The Ethics of Wagner's the Ring of the Nibelung
by Mary E Lewis (9781406703955)

The Ethics of Wagner's the Ring of the Nibelung
Mary E Lewis
Release Date: 01 March 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Category: Literature & Literary Studies
ISBN: 9781406703955
ISBN-10: 1406703958

The The Ring of tlie Nibelung By Mary E. Lewis G. P. Putnams Sons New York and London Ube Itnicfcerftocljer press, W, 18. 1906 COPYRIGHT, 1906 BY MARY B. THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED TO ALL MUSICIANS, BUT IN A SPECIAL SENSE TO THOSE WITH WHOM THIS STUDY WAS MADE. PREFACE ONE who casts a glance backward over the history of the world, noting its advance ment through savagery, barbarism, and civ ilization, to its present state of what Is, comparatively speaking, knowledge and culture, will readily concede that what we call the human consciousness has not always been what it seems to be at present. It has been a growth or evolu tion, and, like the Individual, has passed through the various stages of Infancy, childhood, youth, and maturity. This volume contains the history of the evo lution, or advancement of the thought of the world, as It is set forth in the Music Dramas of the Wagnerian Trilogy, The Ring of the Nibe lung. This work tells a story in which fictitious personages are eventually seen to represent steps or degrees in the ethical progress of mankind And the time will come when they will be re membered only in so far as they are the ex ponents of the moral conditions of an epoch, concrete embodiments in which the past survives In the present and may live in the future. vi Preface This study was made with, and In the interest of, a body of musicians and musically Inclined people. At first the characters of The Ring appeared to the present writer as a motley assem blage of people who moved In a round of inci dents that seemed meaningless or absurd, and, sphinx-like, refused to explain the reasons for their existence. But on closer acquaintance personage after personage, and situationafter situation yielded up a meaning and became intelligible. The author remembers an interesting discus sion in which Wotan, Fricka, and Freia were spoken of as emblems analogous to our Uncle Sam and Columbia. These latter personifica tions do indeed embody certain moral principles that underlie our national life, and may at some future day become as troublesome a subject of analysis as are the figures of The Ring of the Nibelung Students In years to come may be asking Who were Uncle Sam, Brother Jona than, the Goddess of Liberty, and Columbia What did these figures stand for, and what was their relation one to another The Ameri can Eagle may be subject to like inquiries. And, with reference to him, curious investigators In ages to come may ask Did he, like the ravens of Wotan, fly forth daily, and was he a factor in the government of the people As our national emblems stand for moral qualities, so Preface vil also each and every character of The Ring of the Nibelung stands for some moral quality or the lack of it. And Wagners great Trilogy, in its moral aspect, as in other aspects, will be found to represent the common experience of mankind, and to be in agreement with many Scriptural utterances concerning mans origin, his devious yet ever upward course, and his inevitable and ultimate destiny. It may there fore be considered as in line with Whatsoever things are true, and as presenting a panoramic picture of the evolution of the human conscious ness struggling to free itself from the hamper ing conditions of self, until at last, selfless, it is lost in the Divine will. To students of the Trilogy who seek in that work for a logical and coherent ethical doctrine, the question mustoften arise Did Wagner himself in truth mean all that we think he meant The answer to this must lie in the gen eral assertion that one who discovers a principle or announces a truth can hardly realize its every ramification and application of meaning save in a kind of prophetic vision...

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