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Comment: Publisher: University of Nebraska Press 1995.
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Binding: hardcover
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Description: 0803247753 Hardcover. 8vo. 439pp. Condition: Book - Fine; Dustjacket - Fine.
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Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination (Texts and Contexts) Hardcover – April 28, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: Texts and Contexts
  • Hardcover: 447 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; y First printing edition (April 28, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803247753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803247758
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.6 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Nobody in their right mind denies that Wagner was an anti-Semite, and a virulent one at that. But is there actual evidence of anti-Semitism in the works themselves? . . . Weiner’s brilliant book gathers the evidence more meticulously and comprehensively than any has done before, and is essential reading.”—Barry Millington, Opera
(Barry Millington Opera )

“A serious attempt to place Wagner’s dramatic work into proper context both in the field of music and in the repertoire of antisemitic literature—and it deserves to be studied carefully.”—Cecil Bloom, Judaism Today
(Cecil Bloom Judaism Today )

“A tremendous advance in the study of Wagner and the cultural influences that informed his work.”—Hillary Hope Herzog, Modern Language Notes
(Hillary Hope Herzog Modern Language Notes )

“An immensely informative cultural history.”—German Life
(German Life )

“Certainly the most important work on Wagner that I have read in the last decade. It opens up fresh approaches and is likely—no, certain—to have a major impact on Wagner studies as well as the history of antisemitic mentality.”—Paul Lawrence Rose, author of Wagner: Race, Revolution and Redemption
(Paul Lawrence Rose )

About the Author

Marc A. Weiner is a professor of Germanic studies and film studies at Indiana University and the author of Undertones of Insurrection (Nebraska 1993).

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
38%
4 star
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See all 13 customer reviews
No, because Weiner's rules apply only when he wants them to.
Laon
He seems to believe that overt racism in Wagner's dramas was so obvious to early audiences that no one felt the need to write about it or discuss it in any way.
Monte
The most naked flaw of the book is that its rather simple themes are described in graduate school vocabulary of the most indulgent kind.
L. Byron

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
The people who say this book is nonsense aren't necessarily "screeching", as a reader from New Orleans says.
(Though the "reader from New Zealand" who seems to be expressing support for the losing side during WWII is the kind of Wagner fan who embarrasses Wagner fans.)
Anyway the New Orleans reader quotes as "facts", the only two pieces of "evidence" that Weiner cited to show that audiences in Wagner's lifetime recognised coded antisemitic messages in the operas.
"Fact 1" is that there were protests against "recognizable antisemitism" at the _Die Meistersinger_ premieres at Mannheim and Vienna in 1869. But that's not a fact.
The protests weren't against _Meistersinger_, but were against Wagner's disgraceful re-publication, early in 1869, of the antisemitic essay _Das Judentum in Musik_. All Wagner productions current that year (except in Berlin) suffered a backlash. In Breslau Wagner's _Lohengrin_ was withdrawn after protests from the local Jewish community, and the reception of Wagner's _Rienzi_ in Paris was "harmed". Serves Wagner right, too.
Weiner didn't allege there was any antisemitism in either _Lohengrin_ or _Reinzi_ (and obviously he would have if he thought it could be done) but they were still part of the same wave of protest, in 1869, that also included the Mannheim and Vienna _Meistersinger_.
That is, the protests were not about or caused by any of the three Wagner operas that were campaigned against in 1869, but were to do with offence properly taken at Wagner's essay.
For background to the 1869 republication of _Das Judentum_ and the hostile reaction it caused, see Jacob Katz, _The Darker Side of Genius: Wagner's anti-Semitism_, pp 70-77.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Laon on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book's thesis is that Wagner's "good" characters, especially in the "Ring" and "Meistersinger" are all Aryans, while his bad characters are all Jews. This ignores the fact that the "Ring" depicts a struggle between love and the will to power, in which both gods and Nibelungs value power over love, and are morally equivalent. The gods are not "good", nor the Nibelungs "evil". And Wagner is on the side of love, not power. (The Nazis came to realise the gulf between their views and Wagner's, banning performances of both the "Ring" and "Parsifal" throughout the Third Reich, because they contained pacifist and anti-militarist messages. Hitler's admiration for Wagner has been much exaggerated; there's some evidence that he preferred Bruckner.)
Weiner's basic misunderstanding of Wagner's ideas suggests limited acquaintance of, or understanding of, the texts he's attacking. And his arguments are of a standard you'd expect to find in alien abduction books, not scholarly texts.
For example, on page 90 he argues that his "Aryan" characters are associated with noble animals, including the "magic, superior dragon". On page 91 he remembers that Alberich*, who Weiner thinks is an antisemitic caricature, is associated with dragons because he once turned himself into one. So only a page later Weiner calls dragons ignoble "inferior" animals, because that suits his argument. Similarly, "ravens" are noble and therefore Aryan, according to Weiner, when they are associated with Wotan; but he forgets that in "Meistersinger" Walther compares Beckmesser to a raven.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Monte on May 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historians first. Weiner's total lack of contemporary citations backing his thesis as been well documented by earlier reviewers. But what is more shocking and contemptible is his response to critics in his postscript to the paperback edition. Weiner says people who "insist...upon a more positivistic documentation (chronicling the reception of the works in the nineteenth century)..." have somehow missed his point. He seems to believe that overt racism in Wagner's dramas was so obvious to early audiences that no one felt the need to write about it or discuss it in any way. The trouble with this, of course, is that if lack of evidence becomes the best evidence anything can be "proved". It's absurd.

Now academics. Weiner refers to Wagner's prose works as "essayistic productions" eight times! Not satisfied, he also sites their "ideational content". The book is littered with this silliness. (Note the "positivistic" cited above.) Is it any wonder that academia has the reputation of pointy-headed obfuscation? And we also have a "mute point" (p. 322) which I suppose can be charitably blamed on spell-checker or an overworked grad student editor.

Amazon's spell checker has tagged "positivistic" "ideational" and "essayistic". I rest my case. I hope Amazon doesn't reject this review for too many "misspellings".
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Kimsey on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
The title of this review is perhaps appropriate, as only one with the approximate intelligence of Elmer Fudd would give any merit to this convoluted, highly questionable stab at serious scholarship. And no, I'm not a hopeless Wagnerian who tailgates at the elitist festival at Bayreuth or who owns 50 different copies of Die Feen on CD. Wagner's anti-Semitism was real enough, but this book goes so far over the deep end that in the end it actually comes close to redeeming the accused (to a certain extent).
While not as obviously venomous as Paul Lawrence Rose's Wagner: Race, Revolution & Redemption, RW & the Anti-Semitic Imagination is just as questionable. Weiner's thesis is that all of the unpleasant characters in Wagner's later operas, with their appearance, smells & voices, are clandestine Jews. Weiner uses such airtight evidence as using another composer's (Mussorgsky) alleged anti-Semitic work to prove that Wagner was doing the same. I hope Mr. Weiner is never my attorney.
One of Weiner's favorite examples in trying to prove his thesis is The Ring's Alberich. Alberich is short, ugly, greedy, manipulative, and cruel to his own race. According to Weiner, this is proof positive that this character is a metaphor for Jewish people. Well....the Nibelungen, the race that Alberich enslaves with the ring & is a member of, were peaceful & not portayed by Wagner in a bad light before Alberich used the nasty little trinket. I suppose it never occurred to Weiner that the Nibelungen were depicted as dwarves in the saga centuries before Wagner even set the tale to music. Of the Nibelungen, only Alberich, Mime, and Hagen are shown as ruthless. The rest are downtrodden. Incidentally, Alberich is the only major character to survive the whole Ring cycle.
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