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Wagner Beyond Good and Evil$
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John Deathridge

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254534

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254534.001.0001

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Fairy Tale, Revolution, Prophecy Preliminary Evening: Das Rheingold

Fairy Tale, Revolution, Prophecy Preliminary Evening: Das Rheingold

(p.47) 4. Fairy Tale, Revolution, Prophecy Preliminary Evening: Das Rheingold
Wagner Beyond Good and Evil

John Deathridge

University of California Press

This chapter presents an account of Das Rheingold. It discusses its conception, critique, and the eventual fading away. Wagner read the writings of the French socialist thinker Proudhon and many others in which the curse of capital and the resulting objectification of human labor are discussed. As a result, the Ring began in the late 1840s as an allegorical comment on social unrest. It soon turned into a parable of human destiny dominated by riddles and emotional conflict that dissolved politics into philosophical poetry. To most modern audiences, the gods and heroes in the Ring are remote and difficult to understand. The metaphors and prophecies in Das Rheingold are a kind of blueprint for the mythical discourse in the rest of the Ring and help to build up the sense of inevitable end that colors the story of Wotan throughout the cycle. It begins and ends with a nature myth, portrayed as the “goddess of truth.”

Keywords:   Wagner, Das Rheingold, the Ring, nature myth, philosophical poetry

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