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The Perfect Wagnerite Paperback – January 1, 2012
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Most plays run 80 to 100 pages. You can easily read a play in one sitting or over the course of a few nights of bedtime reading, providing enjoyment and a "break" from novels. As for me, novels, short stories, biographies, autobiographies,poetry, plays, non-fiction are all included in my reading choices.Do open yourself to a wide range of reading. Turn off the television and read, read, read~!
The "interpretation" goes off the rails in the Preface to the Second Edition, in which Shaw defends himself against criticisms of the first edition by saying that "the only protests the book has elicited are protests, not against the opinions it expresses, but against the facts it records...." and then proceeds to conflate actual facts ("their hero was associated with a famous Anarchist in a rebellion") with subjective interpretations ("his picture of Niblunghome under the reign of Alberic is a poetic vision of unregulated industrial capitalism....") He proceeds in the same preface to state that his assignment of Gotterdammerung to the category of "Grand Opera" (as opposed to "music drama") "is to me as much a matter of fact as the Dresden rising." I kept reading, but it doesn't get better.
There is, in my opinion, nothing to be gained from wasting your time on the ideas of someone who can't distinguish objective reality from subjective opinion.
Regarding the "ihn" versus "ihm" controversy in Tristan, Laon does a good job in elucidating Gutman's silly inuendoes. There is another possibility, which is that Wagner was trying to emulate an archaic German, so he may have deliberately chosen the "wrong" grammar (by modern standards) to make the sentence sound like an older pre-modern Germanic tongue. Native German speakers sometimes have difficulty understanding Wagner's texts for that reason. I agree with Laon that Gutman's book is decent on the facts of Wagner's life but is biased and misleading on the interpretation of those facts. It's too bad that such a knowledgeable writer as Gutman could let his personal biases mar what could have been a balanced and thoughtful biography of this controversial musical genius. Gutman's logic appears to run as follows: Wagner was anti-Semitic, Hitler liked Wagner's music and ideas, therefore Wagner was responsible for the Holocaust.
I read this book hoping to understand how Wagner, with all his character flaws, could write such beautiful and psychologically insightful musical dramas. Gutman did not answer my question, except to say that what appear on the surface to be works of genius are really clever attempts by a scoundrel to indoctrinate others into his antisemitism. How is it then that I come away from listening to Wagner with a loathing of anti-Semitism and a overwhelming experience of comapssion for the human family?