When Rilke died in 1926, his reputation as a great poet seemed secure. But as the tide of the critical avant-garde turned, he was increasingly dismissed as apolitical, too inward. In Rilke: The Last Inward Man, acclaimed critic Lesley Chamberlain uses this charge as the starting point from which to explore the expansiveness of the inner world Rilke created in his poetry.
Weaving together searching insights on Rilke’s life, work and reception, Chamberlain casts Rilke’s inwardness as a profound response to a world that seemed ever more lacking in spirituality. In works of dazzling imagination and rich imagery, Rilke sought to restore spirit to Western materialism, encouraging not narrow introversion but a heightened awareness of how to live with the world as it is, of how to retain a sense of transcendence within a world of collapsed spiritual certainty.