Reviews for Finding an Ending : Reflections on Wagner's Ring


Choice Reviews 2005 April
Much has been written about Wagner, especially in recent years, but the works on his philosophy are either incomplete or somewhat negative. Kitcher (Columbia Univ.) and Schacht (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), both philosophy faculty, examine the link between Wagner's philosophy and music and in so doing broaden understanding of both the musical expression and the philosophical validity of the Ring cycle's many complicated issues. The authors focus on authority and judgment, the justification of human existence, and the power of love. Although the five chapters that provide background are not insignificant, an earlier exegesis of the philosophical principles would have provided a better framework. Not until chapter 6 ("Meaning and the Ring") do the authors detail the crux of their argument and lay out a cohesive philosophical argument for the undergirding of the entire Ring cycle. Subsequent chapters deal with issues that have their genesis in specific characters or situations. An appendix provides a helpful synopsis of the Ring cycle's plot (no easy feat). The bibliography focuses on writings about Wagner himself and his philosophy. An unprecedented philosophical treatise, at least in terms of its completeness, this volume is a must-read for serious students of Wagner. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate and research collections. Copyright 2005 American Library Association.

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Library Journal Reviews 2004 April #2
Both philosophy professors, Kitcher (Columbia Univ.) and Schacht (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) aim to present Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelungs cycle as a philosophically rich and complex work. While neither author has a background in musicology or music theory, it is clear from their arguments, as well as from their annotated bibliography, that the music itself is never far from their minds. They begin with an overview of the philosophical works that shaped Wagner's thinking-a progression that begins with Hegel, moves through Feurebach and Schopenhauer, and culminates in Nietzsche. The excellent first chapter is essentially an overview of these giants' theories, written in clear and understandable language. Instead of moving in strict chronological order through the Ring cycle, the book proceeds character by character, focusing principally on Wotan's challenges and dilemmas and Brunnhilde's transformations. Each chapter contains thought-provoking discussions that will intellectually engage readers, even those who are unmoved, or perhaps repelled, by Wagner's music and ideas. While overlapping considerably with Bryan Magee's The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy, this book plunges more deeply into the intricacies of character development in the Ring itself, touching more lightly upon the details of philosophical inquiry. Recommended for all collections.-Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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