Preface  pp. xi-xx


By Thomas S. Grey

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It has long been customary to preface books on Wagner with apologies, and apologetics, for “yet another” – sometimes accompanied by vague comparative statistics about Jesus and Napoleon. Since these statistics (which have usually sounded suspiciously obsolete anyway) have been revealed as yet another mythical Wagnerian motif, and since the apology can by this point be taken as read, I shall concentrate briefly on the apologetics.

Until recently it could be said that Wagner's prose writings, after spawning a sizeable quantity of adulatory mystification in the days of the Bayreuther Blätter, the Revue Wagnérienne, or The Meister, and a more sinister if less exhaustive phase of exegesis over the next generation, had eventually succumbed to a state of near-total scholarly disregard (even if the fundamental articles of their musical-dramatic creed had since become sedimented into a universal critical consciousness). Over the last several decades the situation has changed, however. The same period that saw the critical and academic rehabilitation of Verdi and Rossini, across the 1960s and 70s, also witnessed a revival of serious critical interest in Wagner's literary oeuvre. (I am not proposing any secret, deep-structural link here, aside from the fact that this was a time of much academic rehabilitation in general.)