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Interpreting Wagner

James Treadwell


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In this fresh and inventive book, James Treadwell lays open the rich possibilites for interpretation offered across the full range of Wagner’s art. Focusing on Wagner’s music, dramas, and prose writings, rather than on questions of biography or influence, the book carefully traces the tensions and uncertainties embedded within the composer’s central themes.

Treadwell identifies and pursues the habitual concerns of Wagner’s operas and writings: enchantment, seduction, heroism, victory, transcendence, and sacredness. While Wagner’s work repeatedly and urgently sets itself to deny various or ambiguous interpretations, the operas themselves are nevertheless far more intricate and conflicted than this denial allows for. In this altered light, the dimensions of Wagner’s art are unexpectedly extended, and its enduring vitality is refreshingly reasserted.

Yale University Press, 9780300098150, 304pp.

Publication Date: May 11, 2003