Strange Love, Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parsifal

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:
Strange Love, Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parsifal

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Richard Wagner's Parsifal has always fascinated critics who have seen it either as a “superior magic opera” that “revels in the wondrous” or as a “profoundly inhuman spectacle, glorifying a barren masculine world whose ideals are a combination of militarism and monasticism.” This chapter explores the notion of a racist strain in Parsifal in relation to Wagner's racist views and their inseparability from the experience of supposed cultural decay he wanted to share in Parsifal, and not just in a series of seemingly madcap polemics in his late writings. It brings the dramaturgy of Parsifal into sharper focus and suggests that, contrary to what both the left and right flanks in the Western cultural establishment think, a closer look at the way its structure has been entwined with the web of ideas inside it, the less are the concerns about it likely to disappear.

Keywords: Richard Wagner; Parsifal; magic opera; racist; cultural decay

Chapter.  7631 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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