Last week I turned in the manuscript of my third book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music. Having spent nine years writing it, I’m now not entirely sure what to do with myself. To be sure, much work remains: copy-editing, fact-checking, determining the placement of more than a hundred illustrations. But the work on my end is largely done. The publication date is September 2020.
I say in the prelude that working on this book was the great education of my life. It took so long partly because I enjoyed the process of research so deeply. The central topic is Wagner’s impact on non-musical artists, from his own lifetime forward. The list of Wagner-inflected poets, novelists, painters, dancers, architects, theater designers, and filmmakers is almost infinitely long. It begins, roughly, with Baudelaire, encompasses such titanic modernist novelists as Proust, Mann, Joyce, Woolf, and Cather, and continues into the present, with the likes of Terrence Malick and Werner Herzog finding new images for Wagner on film. Add to this the composer’s effect on philosophy, from Nietzsche to Alain Badiou, and, of course, his huge political ramifications, which are not limited to Hitler and the far right. The education consisted in reading, re-reading, viewing, and reconsidering a vast swath of cultural production. I’m not sure how many hundreds of books I read in the process, but I am much the better for it, and I hope that the book reflects a maturation of perspective.
It’s not yet clear how many pages Wagnerism will consume, but it will be longer than The Rest Is Noise, which was not a short book. If it turns out to be anything other than an unreadable monster, Eric Chinski, my heroically patient and exacting editor, should take most of the credit. A great many scholars and critics have helped me along the way; I will do my best to give thanks to all in the Acknowledgments. The book will be dedicated to the memory of my beloved and brilliant friend Andrew Patner, who had many doubts about Wagner but who loved Meistersinger. May it be worthy of him.
Here is the table of contents:
PRELUDE: Death in Venice
1. RHEINGOLD: Wagner, Nietzsche, and the “Ring”
2. TRISTAN CHORD: Baudelaire and the Symbolists
3. SWAN KNIGHT: Victorian England and Gilded-Age America
4. GRAIL TEMPLE: Esoteric, Decadent, and Satanic Wagner
5. HOLY GERMAN ART: The Kaiserreich and Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
6. NIBELHEIM: Jewish and Black Wagner
7. VENUSBERG: Feminist and Gay Wagner
8. BRÜNNHILDE’S ROCK: Willa Cather and the Singer-Novel
9. MAGIC FIRE: Modernism, 1900 to 1914
10. NOTHUNG: The First World War and Hitler’s Youth
11. RING OF POWER: Revolution and Russia
12. FLYING DUTCHMAN: “Ulysses,” “The Waste Land,” “The Waves”
13. SIEGFRIED’S DEATH: Nazi Germany and Thomas Mann
14. RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES: Film from “The Birth of a Nation” to “Apocalypse Now”
15. THE WOUND: Wagnerism after 1945
from Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise https://ift.tt/2oe0f0A