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Critical Chronological Anthology of the Writings of Ludwig Feuerbach, and the Writings and Recorded Remarks of Richard Wagner

(In English Translation from the German by various translators)


The passages included in this anthology were selected on the basis of their potential or actual value as aids to understanding Wagner’s canonical operas and music dramas (i.e., from The Flying Dutchman through Parsifal), and his creative process in general. I have arranged them in chronological order so that one may grasp the development of Feuerbach’s and Wagner’s thought

Ludwig Feuerbach’s argument in favor of atheism, and his insights into the psychology of religious belief, had such a pervasive influence on Wagner, that there are literally hundreds of paraphrases in Wagner’s writings and recorded remarks of corresponding passages from Feuerbach’s writings in four books completed between 1830 and 1848. And the influence of Feuerbach on all of Wagner’s canonical operas and music-dramas, with the possible exception of The Flying Dutchman, is incalculable. This influence extends even to those music-dramas which Wagner wrote after his self-proclaimed conversion from Feuerbach’s optimistic philosophy to Schopenhauer’s pessimistic philosophy in 1854, namely, Tristan and Isolde, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, and Parsifal. I have therefore included in this anthology all those passages from the writings of Ludwig Feuerbach which seem to have influenced Wagner’s writings, recorded remarks, and his opera and music-drama librettos (and therefore also Wagner’s music). In The Wound That Will Never Heal I have drawn attention to numerous instances of Wagner’s debt.

In order to demonstrate Wagner’s debt to Feuerbach, and also in order to provide a guide to the reader of this anthology, I have placed my abbreviation for Feuerbach, {FEUER}, before every passage in the portion of this anthology devoted to Wagner’s writings and recorded remarks, in which Wagner was either clearly paraphrasing a specific passage from Feuerbach’s writings, or in which we can detect a general influence of Feuerbach’s philosophy on Wagner’s thought.

Though there are hundreds of passages in the Wagner anthology in which a direct influence can be detected, Wagner rarely pays credit to Feuerbach for specific insights. Especially after Wagner came under Schopenhauer’s influence in 1854, Wagner’s thinking often ran counter to Feuerbach on one point, while nonetheless embracing Feuerbach on another point without attribution. Sometimes Wagner even credits Schopenhauer for an insight Wagner originally derived from Feuerbach. In order to help the reader sort this out, wherever Wagner seems to be reacting specifically against Feuerbach, I have placed {anti-FEUER} before such passages in the Wagner anthology.

It may be assumed in most instances that Wagner’s anti-Feuerbach passages from about 1878 onward also run counter to Nietzsche’s philosophy. My reason for correlating Nietzsche with Feuerbach is that in virtually every passage in which Wagner expresses his hostility to Nietzsche’s

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