Wagner Androgyne

Overview

That Wagner conceived of himself creatively as both man and woman is central to an understanding of his life and art. So argues Jean-Jacques Nattiez in this richly insightful work, where he draws from semiology, music criticism, and psychoanalysis to explore such topics as Wagner's theories of music drama, his anti-Semitism, and his psyche.

Wagner, who wrote the libretti for the operas he composed, maintained that art is the union of the feminine principle, music, and the ...

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Overview

That Wagner conceived of himself creatively as both man and woman is central to an understanding of his life and art. So argues Jean-Jacques Nattiez in this richly insightful work, where he draws from semiology, music criticism, and psychoanalysis to explore such topics as Wagner's theories of music drama, his anti-Semitism, and his psyche.

Wagner, who wrote the libretti for the operas he composed, maintained that art is the union of the feminine principle, music, and the masculine principle, poetry. In light of this androgynous model, Nattiez reinterprets the Wagnerian canon, especially the Ring of the Nibelung, which is shown to contain a metaphorical transposition of Wagner's conception of the history of music: Siegfried appears as the poet, Brunnhilde, as music, and their union is an androgynous one in which individual identity fades and the lovers revert to a preconflictual, presexual state.

Nattiez traces the androgynous symbol in Wagner's theoretical writings throughout his career. Looking to explain how this idea, so closely bound up with sexuality, took root in Wagner's mind, the author considers the possibility of Freudian and Jungian interpretations. In particular he explores the composer's relationship with his mother, a distant woman who discouraged his interest in the theater, and his stepfather, a loving man whom Wagner suspected was not only his real father but also a Jew. Along with psychoanalysis, Nattiez critically applies various structuralist and feminist theories to Wagner's creative enterprise to demonstrate how the nature of twentieth-century hermeneutics is itself androgynous.

Originally published in 1997.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An extraordinarily helpful volume that will save untold hours of reference time for the student, the general reader, and the literary scholar."--The Modern Language Journal

"A reference work of distinction which all who work in the field of literary studies will find extremely useful if not, indeed, indispensable."--Classical Journal

"I consider this volume nearly as essential for any working poet as a good dictionary."--Judson Jerome, Writer's Digest

"A work of scholarship, much humour and literary value."--The Times Literary Supplement

"No handier one-volume compendium is now available to provide so much useful, authoritative material on the history, theory, and craft of imaginative writing."--Books Abroad

"Nattiez's study--an exposition of the aesthetic of androgyny, its place in nineteenth-century thought, and its particular manifestation in Wagner's oeuvre--is breathtaking in the depth of its research and thoroughly persuasive in the connections it traces in the history of ideas. . . . A dazzling display of argumentation, . . . [offering] countless insights both profound and fascinating."--Barry Millington, Opera

"Nattiez's synthetic approach to Wagner's theory and practice . . . coupled with his profound understanding of the composer's life, make this volume a major contribution to Wagnerian studies. . . . It is a highly enriching and most comprehensive treatment of Wagner the artist and the human being."--Steven R. Cerf, Wagner Notes

"The book provides an analysis of Wagner that is both detailed and erudite. Nattiez is especially successful in describing the intellectual world in which Wagner worked. . . . Wagnerians and scholars of contemporary hermeneutics will find much to enjoy here."--Peter J. Rabinowitz, Opera Quarterly

Barry Millington
Breathtaking in the depth of its research and thoroughly persuasive in the connections it traces in the history of ideas....A dazzling display of argumentation... [offering] countless insights both profound and fascinating. -- Barry Millington, Opera
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691606026
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/2014
  • Series: Princeton Studies in Opera Series
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Note to the English Edition
Bibliographical Note
Pt. 1 Androgyny and the Ring: From Theory to Practice
Introduction to Part One: Mythic Narrative, Theoretical Discourse 3
Ch. 1 The Theoretical Essays of 1849 to 1851 12
Ch. 2 Wieland the Smith 43
Ch. 3 The Ring as a Mythic Account of the History of Music 53
Ch. 4 Art as a Metaphor of Itself 91
Pt. 2 Music and Poetry: The Metamorphoses of Wagnerian Androgyny
Introduction to Part Two 99
Ch. 5 Wagnerian Androgyny and Its Romantic Counterpart 102
Ch. 6 Musica Triumphans (1851-1873) 128
Ch. 7 The Return of Androgyny (1878-1883) 163
Conclusion to Part Two 173
Pt. 3 Wagner and Androgynous Hermeneutics
Ch. 8 Psychoanalyzing Wagner 181
Ch. 9 Animus-Anima 219
Ch. 10 Androgynous Structuralism 236
Ch. 11 Marxism, Feminism, and Romanticism 254
Ch. 12 Deconstruction or Restoration of Meaning? 263
Epilogue: Interpreting Wagner in the Age of Doubt 275
Catalog of Wagner's Writings 303
Notes 323
References 339
Index 353
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