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Death-Devoted Heart

Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde

Death-Devoted Heart by Roger Scruton
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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.
Oxford University Press; November 2012
248 pages; ISBN 9780199986989
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Title: Death-Devoted Heart
Author: Roger Scruton
  • News
Wagner's Tristan und Isolde: nothing in music history was the same again - The Guardian (blog)
Fri, 05 Dec 2014 03:43:38 -0800
The Guardian (blog)Wagner's Tristan und Isolde: nothing in music history was the same againThe Guardian (blog)Roger Scruton ...
Optimism and false hope - OUPblog (blog)
Tue, 17 Jan 2012 03:47:21 -0800
Optimism and false hopeOUPblog (blog)I thus approached Roger Scruton's book The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False ...