Mythology as Metaphor: Romantic Irony, Critical Theory, and Wagner's Ring

Mythology as Metaphor: Romantic Irony, Critical Theory, and Wagner's Ring

Mythology as Metaphor: Romantic Irony, Critical Theory, and Wagner's Ring

Mythology as Metaphor: Romantic Irony, Critical Theory, and Wagner's Ring

Synopsis

This literary and critical approach to Wagner's Ring provides an original interpretation of the Ring tetralogy and challenges the standard political analyses of the work. The Ring is examined in the tradition of the romantic drama as a reworking of Greek tragedy as theoretically expressed in the second part of Oper und Drama. In the Ring, using myth as a metaphor for history presents a paradoxical world. The innertextual reflection that Wotan performs in his monologue causes the Ring to self-destruct from within. He actually dismantles or deconstructs the text of the Ring. The doom of the gods happens because the Ring has undermined, unworked and dismantled its system of significtion.

Excerpt

This work is a literary-critical approach to Wagner Ring via the concepts of mythology and Romantic irony. This book grew out of a desire to place both the Ring and the drama theory from the second part of Oper und Drama within the German tradition of the successive reinterpretations and reworkings of Greek tragedy. This objective in turn necessitated a discussion of mythology and hermeneutics in the Ring, and in this manner the book evolved into an argument concerning the essential irony of synthetically refabricating myth in the nineteenth century. the notion that Wagner's dramas have Romantic irony places the Ring into the tradition of the Romantic drama, and thus establishes Wagner's affinity to the German Romantic writers in a new way.

The Ring, I will argue, exemplifies the theory that Wagner presents in Oper und Drama by demonstrating the process of mythological refabrication and reinterpretation on the modern stage of reflection or self-consciousness. the basic concepts of the critical method known as deconstruction or post-structuralism, as represented by the work of Jacques Derrida, prove instrumental in my discussion. Thus my approach is diachronic as well as synchronic. I will examine not only literary theory, but also literary history, in elucidating Wagner Ring. My analysis of the Ring will serve not only to place Wagner's work within the context of dramatic and literary history; it will also present a new interpretation of why and how Alberich's ring works the doom of the gods. All translations, unless noted otherwise, are mine. Also, unless noted, I have kept emphasis in the quotations unchanged.

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