Chamberlain Houston Stewart - Richard Wagner


Author : Chamberlain Houston Stewart
Title : Richard Wagner
Year : 1900

Link download : Chamberlain_Houston_Stewart_-_Richard_Wagner.zip

In my little treatise " Das Drama Richard Wagner s " I announced my intention of writing a larger work on the Bayreuth Meister. Just at the moment when my preliminary studies had advanced so far that I could think of attempting the execution ofmy plan, the publishers, Messrs Friedrich Bruckmann, proposed that I should write the text for an illustrated Life of Wagner. Honourable as this commission was, it had little attraction for me at first. In Carl Friedrich Glasenapp's Life of Richard Wagner the world possesses a classical biography of the great word-tone-poet ; a voluminous autobiography will moreover some day be published ; several excellent little populai- accounts of his life have been written by various authors. A new biography therefore seemed to me scarcely calculated to meet any real requirement. The publishers however agreed to my proposal to compose, not a biography in the narrower sense of the word, but so to speak a picture; not a chronological enumeration of all the events of his life in proper order, but rather a sketch of the entire thought and work of the great man, and so I felt it my duty to postpone the execution of my first design, and to carry out the present work to the best of my abilities. A work of this kind about Wagner does not exist up to the present time. Shall I return to my former intention at some future date ? By the publication of this work its centre of gravity must of course be seriously displaced. Here I have been led, from first to last, by the wish to view Wagner from within, to represent him and the world as he saw them both. This is the only way of knowing a man. Truth is an inward light; the outer light glances back from the surface and dazzles the spectator; but if he take up his position in the shade, and content himself with fanning this inner light, the whole form will become translucent. The onlyobject of the present work was Wagner's individuality, which therefore had to engage my full, undivided attention ; none the less however is it an interesting exercise to regard Richard Wagner from •without, to trace his position in the history of art and in the development of the human mind, to determine the diagonal resulting from the will and the cognition of a rare genius, on the one hand, and the will and cognition of a hundred thousand less gifted men on the other. Perhaps I shall venture upon it some day. The publishers thoroughly understood and at once accepted my proposal with regard to our undertaking; although the initiative came from them the present form of the book is thus our common work. They also acceded to my wish that all superfluous matter in the way of illustrations, such as portraits of singers, caricatures, etc., should be removed; had they wished to speculate on cheap sensation the material would not have been wanting; but on the other hand they spared no pains or sacrifice to procure everything which was really important, and to carry out the pictorial portion of the work technically in such a way as became the dignity of the subject. The obliging spirit in which they were met at Wahnfried, as well as by the Intendants of various courttheatres, and by the Masters' numerous friends both at home and abroad, is evidenced by the list of illustrations. The fact that the " Wagner Museum " bluntly refused all assistance may be mentioned merely for the benefit of collectors of historical material ; not a single item have we lost in consequence of this refusal, and the more laborious search has brought to light many a precious document which might otherwise have remained unknown to us. In H. Hendrich the publishers secured the assistance of one of the very few painters whose imagination is not misled by the picture on the stage, who are able to grasp the central poetic idea, and to reproduce it freely in accordance with the character of their own art. The connection between the thought of the work and the pictures has been supplied by A. Frenz with deep symbolism in his vignettes. As for the text, my thanks are due more particularly to my dear and much honoured friend Carl Friedrich Glasenapp for his disinterested help. I also desire here to express publicly my thanks to my former master and friend of many years' standing, Gymnasiallehrer Herr Otto Kuntze in Stettin. To him I owe my command of the German language, and therewith my ability to write the book; besides this he has undertaken the troublesome work of correcting the proofs. And so may this attempt to sketch in a comprehensive form a comprehensive picture of the great German go forth, and do its part in contributing to a better understanding of one who was a hero both in mind and heart —Out of" the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ; may it find its way to many more hearts. Vienna, November 1895. HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN. ...

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