Review: 'Beyond Reason: Wagner contra Nietzsche,' by Karol Berger
Journal of Musicological Research
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Karol Berger’s Beyond Reason: Wagner contra Nietzsche is an ambitious synthesis of biographical, analytical, and critical perspectives on Richard Wagner’s post revolutionary (i.e., post-1849) music dramas. Berger situates these works in dense, threaded contexts of history, literature, and philosophy, which culminate in a study of the fraught intellectual relationship between Wagner and his famously disillusioned idolater Friedrich Nietzsche. Inevitably, a project of such scope and depth will have its lapses and omissions: Berger deals expansively with Wagner’s post-revolutionary works but makes only passing reference to the pre-revolutionary ones, and the reader must be presumed aware of Wagner’s early assimilation and adaptation of those operatic genres and styles that Berger identifies in the mature works. The sheer length of the study, moreover, may have discouraged the author’s deep engagement with much pertinent, recent writing on Wagner—though Berger does invoke or contest arguments by several modern critics, including Theodor Adorno, Joseph Kerman, Roger Scruton, Lucy Beckett, and—at greatest length—Carl Dahlhaus; the last three in particular provide foils for Berger’s discussions of Wagnerian love, Wagnerian religion, and Wagnerian form and process.
Review: 'Beyond Reason: Wagner contra Nietzsche,' by Karol Berger.
Journal of Musicological Research, 37(2),