Richard Wagner and his Poetical Work From Rienzi to Parsifal: (English Edition) by Judith Gautier

Richard Wagner and his Poetical Work From Rienzi to Parsifal: (English Edition)

byJudith Gautier

Kobo ebook | September 30, 2014

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Will the reader kindly look upon the first pages of this book as a fragment of reminiscences, which I hope some day to publish; not that my life in itself is worth relating, but it has been frequently brought in contact with that of celebrated artists. It treats here of certain experiences only, written as if for myself,—reminiscences gathered during several years of uninterrupted relations with Richard Wagner. The books already published on the master, in every language and every style, either to combat or glorify him, would fill a shelf; the catalogue of these criticisms, studies, and biographies would form a volume. Thus, the subject of his defeats, victories, and what is termed his musical system, has been exhausted; repetition is therefore useless.
Beside this, I have of late renounced all idea of proselytism; after a long struggle I abandon the contest, at the moment when, to many, victory seems most probable. I have reasons for this which I do not care to indicate, but which seem to me decisive. What I have for so long a time taken to be the customary and fatal resistance, the instinctive hatred which is experienced by every public in every country for the innovations of genius, is, I fear, in France something even more. Our quick intelligence, so light, so mobile, so disposed to mockery, deprives us of that quality so indispensable to the comprehension of master works—simplicity. We cannot refrain from finding something to ridicule in grand sentiments, sublimity, and noble or terrible passions; what pleases us above all is graceful, spirited art, slightly sentimental, quick observation, and arrows of satire; also, no people can rival us when comic operas, vaudevilles, and comedies of manners are in question.
Art is for us an amusement. We frankly weary of anything serious, and if by chance we happen to admit a masterpiece upon the scenes, it is simply on the score of curiosity. Does a theatre exist in Paris, this world's capital, where the great works, lyrical and dramatic, of the entire world may be represented? Who troubles himself about Calderon, Schiller, Goethe, Shakspeare? While absurd fairy scenes and miserable comedies, in which the only discoverable merit is the play or personality of the actors, and scenes of disgraceful realism, remain upon the boards during a whole year, Othello drags painfully on, barely reaching the twentieth representation. It will, perhaps, be urged that the Frenchman dare not travel, and that works of art created outside of his own little world do not interest him. And Victor Hugo! Is there any sort of indignity or outrage which has been spared him in his own country? It is true, that after sixty years of contest, his glory radiates at last splendid and triumphant. Well, where is Victor Hugo's theatre? Has the new generation ever seen the representations of this master's greatest works? "Les Burgraves," "Cromwell," and "Le Roi qui S'Amuse." This last drama, it is true, is about to reappear upon the stage. But fifty years will have intervened between its first and second representations. Why hope that Richard Wagner should stand a better chance of vanquishing the native antipathy of the French public to serious works than Shakspeare, who after three hundred years has not yet triumphed among us; than Victor Hugo, the greatest glory of France? Are the enchantments of music capable of working this miracle? It is possible, but I no longer hope for it. The success of Lohengrin in Paris is probable, but we shall go no farther. Neither the great Scandinavian epopée, nor the metaphysical loves of Tristan and Isolde, nor the mysticism of Parsifal will reach us. For this reason, recognizing the generous error in which I have so long persisted, I renounce all sterile efforts, and, blessing the invention of railroads, I go bravely toward the mountain which cannot be brought to me.

 

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Title:Richard Wagner and his Poetical Work From Rienzi to Parsifal: (English Edition)Format:Kobo ebookPublished:September 30, 2014Publisher:BOSTON A. WILLIAMS AND COMPANYLanguage:English

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ISBN:9990045893020

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