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Wagner's 'Ring' and its Symbols: The Music and the Myth [Paperback]

Professor Robert Donington O.B.E.
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 14.13 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Wagner's 'Ring' and its Symbols: The Music and the Myth + Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung: A Companion + Wagner's "Ring": Turning the Sky Around, An Introduction to The Ring of the Nibelung
Price For All Three: 38.08

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Product details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 3rd edition (26 April 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571048188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571048182
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This excellent study of Wagner's ring cycle brings ideas from many different disciplines and integrates them into a scholarly and thought provoking book. Although the writing is clear and direct, it is conceptually and emotionally dense and is best taken in short chunks. This is a book which can be read over and over again and can be returned to as a reference.
In structure, the book describes each scene of the whole Ring Cycle in sequence. The basic structure and elements of the scene are described, annotated with detailed comments about the music, including a discussion of the various 'leitmotifs'. The author illustrates how the meaning of the leitmotifs changes in different scenes, especially when they are transformed or combined with other themes. He also illustrates how Wagner's own views on music and his bigraphical details may have influenced the structure and themes of the Ring Cycle, discusses the various sources from which Wagner drew the myths used in the operas and how the operas themselves developed over time.
All of this is given an added layer of structure, meaning and coherence by using the concepts of Jungian Depth Psychology, including archetypes, the concept of the self as an organising principle and the Jungian concepts of transformation and change (especially the emergence of the conscious mind from a state of unconsciousness).
There is an appendix of musical themes (leitmotifs) in standard musical notation.
I am now buying a new copy of this book because my previous copy has worn out (although the binding is relatively robust)and I am delighted that it is still in print. It is a book which both desrves and rewards study!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing some kind of sense to the Ring 3 April 2009
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My relationship to Wagner's Ring has been deepening over the last eight or nine years. In that time, while I have absolutely loved the music and found myself responding to the drama, somewhat, I nonetheless found myself rather ambivalent towards its characters, all busily ripping and bumping each other off. Even the good guys, the 'heroic' Gods and humans, are not particularly nice people. So whilst utterly enthralled by the music I found that the drama itself did not make moral sense. Then I received a recommendation for this book on the Amazon classical music forum and, at last, it starts to make sense. In all, this is one of two books that I think are required to fill in the picture, the other being Brian Magee's Wagner and Philosophy.

So this book is a Jungian analysis of the Ring mythology. I'm not sure what the modern status of Jungian psychology is. I made a fairly deep study of it in my younger days, but it's something I let go of for several reasons as I grew older. In particular, I would imagine that the centrality of the Religious impulse to the Jungian model has probably seen a decline in the standing of Jungian thinking in the light of the modern ascent of atheism. This book only provides the very briefest grounding in Jungian concepts and I'm not sure how it would read to someone who did not have the basics of the Jungian framework under their belt.

Briefest possible introduction to Jung then: Jung was a pupil of Freud who became deeply interested in the common themes that emerge again and again in World mythology, and the similarities between the language of myth and dreams.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By KC
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not an easy read, this is a book for the intellectually inclined. I found this book rewards careful scrutiny. If you are a wagnerite Donnington opens up the four operas that constitute the Ring in a fascinating way. Psychological insights into the myths that Wagner adapted are also insights into the readers own life. This is a fascinating book on more than one level and is a compelling read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and enriching read 10 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Donington's book is a detailed scene by scene analysis of Wagner's Ring Cycle with all its motives. It makes for a relatively easy and rewarding read. In order to enrich my experience of Wagner operas, I know I will keep referring back to it in the future.
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