Wagner Androgyne : A Study in Interpretation

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1993-04-01
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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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 who 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.

Table of Contents

Note to the English Edition
Bibliographical Note
Androgyny and the Ring: From Theory to Practice
Introduction to Part One: Mythic Narrative, Theoretical Discoursep. 3
The Theoretical Essays of 1849 to 1851p. 12
Wieland the Smithp. 43
The Ring as a Mythic Account of the History of Musicp. 53
Art as a Metaphor of Itselfp. 91
Music and Poetry: The Metamorphoses of Wagnerian Androgyny
Introduction to Part Twop. 99
Wagnerian Androgyny and Its Romantic Counterpartp. 102
Musica Triumphans (1851-1873)p. 128
The Return of Androgyny (1878-1883)p. 163
Conclusion to Part Twop. 173
Wagner and Androgynous Hermeneutics
Psychoanalyzing Wagnerp. 181
Animus-Animap. 219
Androgynous Structuralismp. 236
Marxism, Feminism, and Romanticismp. 254
Deconstruction or Restoration of Meaning?p. 263
Epilogue: Interpreting Wagner in the Age of Doubtp. 275
Catalog of Wagner's Writingsp. 303
Notesp. 323
Referencesp. 339
Indexp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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