The music-dramatic core of the book is framed by sections designed to place Wagner’s late works within the context of the political and ethical ideas of his time. The Prologue offers a genealogy of the principal worldviews available to Wagner and his contemporaries and shows how they related to one another. The options I describe are of diverse age, some with roots going as far back as the antiquity (the Judeo-Christian religious outlook), some characteristic of the modern age (the Enlightenment), some arising even more recently in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (the main currents of the Counter-Enlightenment that proceed under the banners of History, Nation, and Will). Deposited at different times, they all actively shaped the landscape in which Wagner found himself and left traces on his music dramas.
Keywords: Christianity, Counter-Enlightenment, Charles Darwin, Enlightenment, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Arthur de Gobineau, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Gottfried von Herder, historical determinism, irrationalism, Immanuel Kant, Heinrich von Kleist, Karl Marx, nationalism racism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Arthur Schopenhauer
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