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Interpretation of Dreams

Harold James, 5 February 1981

Cosima Wagner’s Diaries. Vol. II: 1878-1883 
edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Collions, 1200 pp., £20, January 1981, 0 00 216189 3
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... Cosima von Bülow (née Liszt) met the composer Richard Wagner briefly in 1853, lived with him from 1864, bearing three children, and married him in 1870. She was a devoted wife, who put up with every whim and eccentricity of a being she acknowledged as the embodiment of genius: she had married her first husband after she had heard him conducting the overture to Tannhäuser and realised that genius needed genius to interpret it: in her relation with Richard she was to display her own genius too ...
Wagner in Performance 
edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 214 pp., £19.95, July 1992, 0 300 05718 0
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WagnerRace and Revolution 
by Paul Lawrence Rose.
Faber, 304 pp., £20, June 1992, 9780571164653
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Wagner Handbook 
edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, translated by John Deathridge.
Harvard, 711 pp., £27.50, October 1992, 0 674 94530 1
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Richard Wagner’s Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini’s in Beau-Séjour 
by Edmond Michotte, translated by Herbert Weinstock.
Quartet, 144 pp., £12.95, November 1992, 9780704370319
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... The bewildering variety of interests and standards in Wagner scholarship (or what passes for it) is congenitally resistant to study.’ Thus John Deathridge, the leading Wagner scholar of the English-speaking world, at the beginning of his chapter on Wagner research in the Wagner Handbook ...
The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
Parsifal 
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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Parsifal 
by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... as ‘the Ring of the century’ – an accolade which plainly belongs to the 1951 Wieland Wagner production which inaugurated the ‘New Bayreuth’. Musically, the Boulez Ring cannot compare with Furtwängler’s La Scala performance or Knappertsbusch’s 1957 cycle, both available on record. Moreover, if the New Bayreuth approach to ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... death is the real terminus that yields to no one.’Like anyone who has spent time thinking about Wagner, I have inevitably come back to the subject of boundaries and limits, and in particular to questions about the boundary that lies between Wagner’s works and his listeners, and about the experience, apparently not ...

Orpheus in his Underwear

Harold James, 1 November 1984

My Life 
by Richard Wagner, translated by Andrew Gray, edited by Mary Whittall.
Cambridge, 786 pp., £22.50, November 1983, 0 521 22929 4
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Untimely Meditations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by R.J. Hollingdale, introduced by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £15, December 1983, 0 521 24740 3
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WagnerA Case-History 
by Martin von Amerongen.
Dent, 169 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 460 04618 7
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... In 1892 the English Wagnerphile Mary Burrell tracked down a proof copy of the autobiography dictated by Wagner covering the first 51 years of his life, which had been printed privately in an edition of only 15 for his friends and patrons. She was appalled: she believed the picture Mein Leben gave of Wagner was so unpleasant that the work must have been a forgery by the Master’s enemies ...

‘My dear, dear friend and Führer!’

Jeremy Adler: Winifred Wagner, 6 July 2006

Winifred WagnerA Life at the Heart of Hitler’s Bayreuth 
by Brigitte Hamann, translated by Alan Bance.
Granta, 582 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 1 86207 851 3
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... In this, the first major biography of Wagner’s daughter-in-law, Brigitte Hamann tries very hard to be fair to a subject who, one might think, scarcely deserves it. It would be hard to find a better example than the Wagner dynasty of the continuity between the myth of a glorious Germany and its terrible enactment ...

Count the Commas

Terry Eagleton: Craig Raine’s novel, 24 June 2010

Heartbreak 
by Craig Raine.
Atlantic, 186 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 1 84887 510 4
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... dishevelled syntax are meant to add a touch of the vraisemblable to this woefully wooden dialogue. Richard Wagner, apparently reading from a Teutonic tome laid on a lectern, says to a friend: ‘Schopenhauer says the universe is driven by blind, impulsive will. The World as Will and Idea. He says goodness can only exist, if this will is repressed. But it ...

Let’s Learn from the English

Richard J. Evans: The Nazi Empire, 25 September 2008

Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe 
by Mark Mazower.
Allen Lane, 726 pp., £30, June 2008, 978 0 7139 9681 4
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... As a young man, Adolf Hitler became a devotee of the music-dramas of Richard Wagner, and spent much of his meagre income on tickets for performances of Lohengrin and other pseudo-medieval fantasies. Historians have spent a good deal of energy trying to trace the effects of this youthful passion on the later dictator’s ideas and beliefs ...

Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen, 19 January 1989

Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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Chaliapin 
by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... to the general. This applies just as much to the self-confessed puritans of the genre (Gluck, Wagner, Birtwistle) as to the unapologetic sensualists (Handel, the Italians, Strauss): perhaps only Debussy in Pelléas et Mélisande has successfully transcended this fundamental crudity of impact. In the period since Brecht’s strictures, however, a nouvelle ...

Diary

Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... the cable was a joke of some sort. It might just as well have been an invitation from Cosima and Richard Wagner to come to Bayreuth, or from T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf to spend an afternoon at the offices of the Dial. It took me about two days to ascertain from various friends in New York and Paris that it was indeed genuine, and far less time than ...

Getting the Undulation

Benjamin Lytal: Willa Cather’s Letters, 20 February 2014

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather 
edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.
Knopf, 715 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 307 95930 0
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... an ambitious monthly magazine, when she published her first story collection in 1905. ‘A Wagner Matinee’ is about a former teacher at the Boston Conservatory who, after making a foolish marriage, spends thirty years as a frontier wife in Nebraska. Returning to Boston, she hears a matinee concert and realises that she has wasted her life. Asked by a ...

At Tate Modern

Anne Wagner: Richard Tuttle , 6 November 2014

... It’s easy​ to see why Richard Tuttle’s work has a tendency to rile people – in particular people who insist on believing that sculpture, even if it no longer needs to be solid and substantial, should at least cling to material existence. From early on Tuttle seemed set on refusing such notions; his work came across as impromptu and elusive, a mirage of fragments, shadows and traces, portable, and hardly built to last ...

Soul to Soul

Ian Buruma, 19 February 1987

The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness 
by Peter Dale.
Croom Helm, 233 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 7099 0899 7
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... beween living national languages, like German, and dead languages like French. Fichte, a kind of Richard Wagner of linguistics, rejected such Latinate words as Humanität, Popularität, Liberalität, spread by the effete French and their revolution. Instead, he believed in coining vigorous, native words, expressing the living German soul. Watanabe makes ...

At Tate Britain

Anne Wagner: Hepworth, 27 August 2015

... so as to place her works ‘alongside those of Brancusi, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Pollock, Rothko or Richard Serra’. What else to expect from curators capable of insisting that the true home of modern art was St Ives or Yorkshire? ‘Pretending that it was is complacent, insular and either intellectually dishonest or genuinely stupid.’ How dishonest are ...

What Wotan Wants

Jerry Fodor, 5 August 2004

Finding an Ending: Reflections on Wagner’s ‘Ring’ 
by Philip Kitcher and Richard Schacht.
Oxford, 241 pp., £14.99, April 2004, 0 19 517359 7
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... Wagner’s operas in general, and the Ring cycle in particular, have been goading the criticising classes into print for a century and a half, with still no end in sight, but the sacrifice of all those trees has produced very little in the way of a critical consensus; not even on such basic matters as what the Ring is about ...

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