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Wagner: Race and Revolution Hardcover – September 10, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300051824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300051827
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,705,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Laon on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As I see it Rose puts four main arguments. 1 German antisemitism in the 19th century is substantially different from other European strands of antisemitism. I'm not qualified to comment on that, except that Rose doesn't bring out much evidence.
2 German political culture of the 19th century is inherently and ineluctably antisemitic. I'd accept "largely" antisemitic; but Rose wants to make an essentialist case, that you couldn't be a 19th century German radical without being antisemitic, and he fails to support that. Instead we get rhetoric, some of it as heated as Wagner's own.
3 Wagner was always antisemitic, even before 1850, when antisemitic references started to appear in his letters and articles. There it's safe to say that the evidence disproves Rose's case; see, for example, Jacob Katz's "Wagner: The Dark Side of Genius", a book which condemns Wagner's antisemitism on the basis of better research and less tenditiousness. Not only does Rose not actually make his case here, but he couldn't.
4 There is coded antisemitism in Wagner's operas. Here Rose abandons all pretence to academic standards and writes some very silly things. For example he argues that "Die Walku:re" is antisemitic because it depicts incest and adultery sympathetically; but adultery is against the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments is a Jewish document. Wagner's, and "Die Walku:re"'s rejection of the 10 Commandments is therefore antisemitic. Where this leaves Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, and every other opera librettist, poet and dramatist in human history is not clear. By reasoning like this they must all be antisemites.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Abbinanti (tusai1@aol.com) on June 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rose uncovers things we've always known about Richard Wagner, his virulent antisemiticism. He situates Wagner usefully in the philosophic mileau of the 19th Century and revolutionary thinking.However writers like Proudhon,Bauer,The Young Hegelians,and Fichte were relatively insignificant compared to Marx and the impact his thinking had of the ideologies of the 19th Century. Rose should have compared Wagner to Marx to define consummately what the term "revolution" really means. Also all these thinkers save Marx,were reactionary, which is why they appealed to Wagner. Rose's discussion of anarchist Bakunin, Wagner's Dresden Rebellion Days friend is even more problematic since Bakunin was ultimately a political opportunist, who would sell-out to save himself as he did countless times.Wagner was first and foremost a composer of music dramas,operas and his creative philosophic thinking remained energized toward that pursuit,which is why his fascination with 19th Century philosophic thought changed over his life. It actually became more conservative. Despite his early Dresden Days, Wagner was a political imbecile. He couldn't distinguish parties,nor collective wills. Given Wagner's unquestionable dominance in the world of Opera today, the crux of Rose's argument, Wagner's antisemiticism, is indeed a profoundly important one. But I doubt if this discussion will lead toward the banning of his music. The problem of racism in art is perhaps the most important issue facing all those who involve themselves in art. For art deals with communication, one human being speaking to another. One emotion projected outward to humanity. And if this expression emanates from a diseased mind, a racist one, well how can art reflect the highest thought man/woman is capable.Read more ›
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence D. Hochman on February 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
In central and western Europe, Marx's millieu, post-Napoleonic Jews had every characteristic of a class. And the class was a middle or capitalist class. Some Jews were also religious, some were atheists, virtually none were Jewish nationalists/proto-Zionists.

Marx wrote of the class extinction of Jewry, not the physical extinction. That should be elementary. What anti-Semite would speak of the "emancipation" of the Jews by the elimination of "Jewry?" You don't emancipate people that you hate.

There was not a smidgen of bigotry in Marx. A plurality of his colleagues in the First International were Jewish. Though he did not coin it, he would have adopted the wisdom that "anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools."

It is also stupid to speak of the Social Democrats, Communists and national socialists (Nazis) as some sort of threesome, presumably in the context of Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. There was nothing "socialist" about the Nazis. They adopted the word "socialism" because of the popularity of the term and concept. They were not about to name their party "the saviors of dying democratic capitalism," which they were. Only a few idiot-Nazis, like Roehm, took the "socialism" semi-seriously and he was put to death in 1934 in the "Night of the Long Knives."

Larry Hochman
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "letsgetreal" on March 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I think this is an excellent book, contrary to the other reviews listed. It helped me understand several new concepts related to anti-semitism, particularly how Jews were thought of as being responsible for commercializing the German art world and bringing the bourgeois capitalist element to European culture. The book sheds much light on the development of anti-semitism relative to the increasing nationalist and revolutionary spirit in Germany during the first part of the 20th century. Wagner's general psychology and racist attitudes are conveyed very effectively, and his influence on future national socialist ideology is more than apparent. This book added a great deal to my understanding of the roots of European anti-semitism, and I thank the author for this.
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