Chapter

Wagner Lives: <i>Issues in Autobiography</i>

John Deathridge

in Wagner Beyond Good and Evil

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254534
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934610 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520254534.003.0001
Wagner Lives: Issues in Autobiography

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This chapter takes a look at Wagner's own portrayals of his life, some issues they raise, the philosophical spirit in they were attempted, and their effect on the generation that came immediately after him. In terms of genuine autobiography, Wagner's life remains a fragment. The candor of his writings about himself and misunderstandings of their raison d'etre helped to create the myth of two apparently irreconcilable Wagners that is still the line of least resistance in any untroubled admiration of his art. The naive separation of the “so-called genius” from reality, and also from a direct warts-and-all subjectivism well beyond romanticism, was one he rejected. It is exactly this insight, however, together with his skeptical view of the role of autobiography in the nineteenth century that places Wagner's narratives about himself among the most remarkable and under appreciated of modern autobiographical testimonies.

Keywords: Wagner; autobiography; subjectivism; romanticism; testimonies

Chapter.  6901 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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