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Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde (edition 2003)

by Roger Scruton

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251428,870 (3.67)2
Member:williecostello
Title:Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde
Authors:Roger Scruton
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2003), Edition: Third printing, Hardcover, 248 pages
Collections:Your library, Toronto Library, Toronto Library (Main Floor)
Rating:*****
Tags:Philosophy, 19th Century, Secondary Literature, Ethics, Aesthetics, Music

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Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde by Roger Scruton

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Death-Devoted Heart is an astounding study of Wagner's classic opera---part musical analysis, part literary criticism, and part philosophical tract. As such, it's also a very difficult book, requiring a fairly advanced knowledge of (or at least tolerance for) music theory, comparative literature, and the finer points of German philosophy. However, if you do feel comfortable with these various areas, Scruton is the perfect guide, and presents an all-encompassing interpretation of Tristan that is both eye-opening and level-headed. (It's all the more impressive that he accomplishes this in a book, without any accompanying audio.) Though I wasn't completely won over by the book's presentation or Scruton's style, I was very persuaded by his views, both musical and philosophical. In short, Death-Devoted Heart is a book I am sure I will be returning to again and again, both for its insight into Wagner and his music, and for its unparalleled discussion of erotic love. ( )
  williecostello | Jan 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195166914, Hardcover)

A tale of forbidden love and inevitable death, the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde recounts the story of two lovers unknowingly drinking a magic potion and ultimately dying in one another's arms. While critics have lauded Wagner's Tristan and Isolde for the originality and subtlety of the music, they have denounced the drama as a "mere trifle"--a rendering of Wagner's forbidden love for Matilde Wesendonck, the wife of a banker who supported him during his exile in Switzerland.

Death-Devoted Heart explodes this established interpretation, proving the drama to be more than just a sublimation of the composer's love for Wesendonck or a wistful romantic dream. Scruton boldly attests that Tristan and Isolde has profound religious meaning and remains as relevant today as it was to Wagner's contemporaries. He also offers keen insight into the nature of erotic love, the sacred qualities of human passion, and the peculiar place of the erotic in our culture. His argument touches on the nature of tragedy, the significance of ritual sacrifice, and the meaning of redemption, providing a fresh interpretation of Wagner's masterpiece. Roger Scruton has written an original and provocative account of Wagner's music drama, which blends philosophy, criticism, and musicology in order to show the work's importance in the twenty-first century.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:51 -0400)

In this text, Roger Scruton argues that 'Tristan and Isolde' has profound religious meaning, as relevant today as it was to Wagner's contemporaries. Both philosophical and musicological, his analysis touches on the nature of tragedy, the significance of ritual sacrifice and the meaning of redemption.… (more)

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