The Ring of Truth

The Ring of Truth

The Wisdom of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung

Summary

Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times, and has fascinated both critics and devotees for over a century and a half. No recent study has examined the meaning of Wagner's masterpiece with the attention to detail and intellectual power that Roger Scruton brings to it in this inspiring account. The Ring of Truth is an exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of the Ring from a writer whose knowledge and understanding of the Western musical tradition are the equal of his capacities as a philosopher.

Scruton shows how, through musical connections and brilliant dramatic strokes, Wagner is able to express truths about the human condition which few other creative artists have been able to convey so convincingly. For Wagner, writes Scruton, the task of art is to 'show us freedom in its immediate, contingent, human form, reminding us of what it means to us. Even if we live in a world from which gods and heroes have disappeared we can, by imagining them, dramatize the deep truths of our condition and renew our faith in what we are.'

Love, death, sacrifice and the liberation that we win through sacrifice - these are the great themes of the Ring, as they are of this book. Scruton's passionate and moving interpretation allows us to understand more fully than ever how Wagner conveys his ideas about who we are, and why the Ring continues to be such a hypnotically absorbing work.

Reviews

  • a masterpiece, all told the best book on Wagner I have ever read
    Michael Tanner, Literary Review

About the author

Roger Scruton

Sir Roger Scruton, who died just after completing this book, was a writer and philosopher who held positions at the universities of London, Oxford, Boston, St Andrews and Buckingham and who wrote widely on art, architecture, music and aesthetics. His books include his now classic Short History of Modern Philosophy (1981), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde (2004) and The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung (2016). He was a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
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