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The Perfect Wagnerite

The Perfect Wagnerite by George Bernard Shaw
By: (1856-1950)

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring (originally published London, 1898) is a philosophical commentary on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, by the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw. Shaw offered it to those enthusiastic admirers of Wagner who "were unable to follow his ideas, and do not in the least understand the dilemma of Wotan." He interprets the Ring in Marxian terms as an allegory of the collapse of capitalism from its internal contradictions. Musicologically, his interpretation is noteworthy for its perception of the change in aesthetic direction beginning with the final scene of Siegfried, in which he claimed that the cycle turns from Musikdrama back towards opera. (Introduction by Wikipedia)

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THE PERFECT WAGNERITE: A COMMENTARY ON THE NIBLUNG'S RING

by Bernard Shaw

Preface to the First German Edition

In reading through this German version of my book in the Manuscript of my friend Siegfried Trebitsch, I was struck by the inadequacy of the merely negative explanation given by me of the irrelevance of Night Falls On The Gods to the general philosophic scheme of The Ring. That explanation is correct as far as it goes; but, put as I put it, it now seems to me to suggest that the operatic character of Night Falls On The Gods was the result of indifference or forgetfulness produced by the lapse of twenty five years between the first projection of the work and its completion. Now it is clear that in whatever other ways Wagner may have changed, he never became careless and he never became indifferent. I have therefore inserted a new section in which I show how the revolutionary history of Western Europe from the Liberal explosion of 1848 to the confused attempt at a socialist, military, and municipal administration in Paris in 1871 (that is to say, from the beginning of The Niblung's Ring by Wagner to the long delayed completion of Night Falls On The Gods), demonstrated practically that the passing away of the present order was going to be a much more complicated business than it appears in Wagner's Siegfried... Continue reading book >>


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