Order paperback of my "Ring" book for $40.00: the most comprehensive/original interpretation in print

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

Moderators: alberich00, Justin Jeffrey

Post Reply
Site Admin
Posts: 541
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Order paperback of my "Ring" book for $40.00: the most comprehensive/original interpretation in print

Post by alberich00 » Sat Mar 11, 2023 5:36 am

Dear Visitors and Members of the www.wagnerheim.com discussion forum:

My recently published 614 page allegorical interpretation of Wagner's "Ring" entitled "The Wound That Will Never Heal" is at last affordable. You can order the paperback version of my book for $40.00 from my publisher Academica Press by going to orders@academicapress.com, or from other online booksellers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble for the same price. Order it now so you can study it prior to the Bayreuth Festival or other productions of Wagner's "Ring" this year of 2023.

My book contains something new about Wagner's "Ring" or its relationship to Wagner's 6 other iconic operas and music-dramas (from "Dutchman" to "Parsifal") on every page, and solves dozens of conundrums which have challenged Wagner scholarship for well over a century. Also, it's the only interpretation of the "Ring" in print which can make sense of the entirety of the "Ring" libretto and Wagner's employment of his musical motifs to enhance its meaning: virtually all others omit discussing significant portions of the "Ring" libretto and its music. What my book offers is a unified, allegorical vision of the "Ring" as a whole which places it in the context of Wagner's other operas and music dramas.

This paperback version has several advantages:

(1) It's much lighter than the hardback, so you can carry it into the opera house.

(2) It has incorporated my corrections to typos and a few more serious mistakes (like inadvertently getting the name of a character or the location of an incident wrong) which I discovered in the original hardback version which was published in 9/2021.

(3) But like the original hardback version, it contains the most comprehensive list of musical motifs in the "Ring" in the literature, 193 numbered motifs, which are embedded in the extensive passages I quoted from the libretto where they occur in the musical score. This comprehensive list of 193 numbered musical motifs can be found in the Motif Guide at the back end of my book. This includes detailed descriptions of each motif's allegorical/dramatic significance, and each one's musical notation, as well as the page number of my book at which each motif's first definitive occurrence can be found in the context of passages I've quoted from the libretto.

(4) Dr. Allen Dunning provided me with the musical notation for the 23 new motifs I added to his original list of 177 whose musical notation can be seen, and sound files heard, at www.wagnerheim.com. However, he didn't provide sound files. The great news is that a volunteer, a conductor of orchestras and lecturer on musicology, is now working with me to produce sound files which accurately reproduce the way my newly introduced motifs sound at their first occurrence. At the earliest opportunity I'll have these added to the 177 (minus the 6-7 motifs I omitted from Dunning's original list of 177) sound files at www.wagnerheim.com. However, this will be costly so I'm seeking financial help to have them added.

Your friend from www.wagnerheim.com,

Paul Brian Heise

Endorsements of Paul Brian Heise’s interpretation of Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung and other canonical operas and music-dramas

Robert Donington (deceased)
Author of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ and its Symbols.
“May I thank you warmly for your showing me your long and lucid Prolegomenon to ‘Then, I myself am the world?’ [one of my studies of the conceptual, allegorical unity underlying Wagner’s mature music-dramas] ... your own insights, so long and rigorously pursued, have led you to a stance more questioning than most ... It does me good to know that someone of your inquiring mind is at work in such a field.” (Letter 3/13/86)

Andrew Gray (deceased)
Translator of Wagner’s Mein Leben (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983).
“You have already done—even at this stage—what Donington did 20 years ago — given Wagner interpretation a new dimension. But you are even more original, and suggestive ... . RW’s spirit beams at you.” (Letter 11/28/83—regarding my The Doctrine of the Ring)
“You are the vanguard of a major reassessment.” (Letter 3/29/90)
“... there are many who have been obliged to consign whole segments of W’s work to the category of excess baggage, because we couldn’t incorporate them into the sense of the whole. You remedy this for us all.” (Undated letter from the 1990’s)

Bryan Magee (deceased)
Author of Wagner and Philosophy (The Tristan Chord), Aspects of Wagner, and Schopenhauer;
former member of the House of Commons; former Professor of Philosophy at Oxford.
“If Heise demonstrates this conceptual coherence he will have illuminated the works for all of us ...” (Letter 2/14/90 to Andrew Gray, concerning my controversial claim that my interpretation can reveal the allegorical logic underlying Richard Wagner’s operas and music- dramas)

Barry Millington
Chief music critic for the London Evening Standard, the editor of The Wagner Journal and author or editor of seven books on Wagner, including The Wagner Compendium, The Ring of the Nibelungen: A Companion and the New Grove Guide to Wagner and his Operas.
“I am ... particularly sympathetic to your Feuerbachian approach: there is no doubt in my mind that elements of Feuerbach's philosophy remained with Wagner long after the initial enthusiasm had dissipated. You take this even further: considerably further than anyone else to my knowledge ... .” (Email 1/23/2017, granting permission to quote his one page review of my Ring interpretation in the discussion forum at my website www.wagnerheim.com, and wishing “good luck with the continuation of your project!”)

Roger Scruton (deceased)
Author of three books on Richard Wagner: (1) Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (2003), (2) The Ring of Truth: the Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (2016), (3) Wagner’s Parsifal — The Music of Redemption (2020).

“Briefly put, The Ring, on Heise’s interpretation, is an exploration of man’s religious sense, of the human need for the transcendental, and of the hope for redemption that endures even in our time of cynicism and materialist frivolity, and which can be satisfied, now, only through the truthful enchantment conveyed to us by art. / In developing that theme Heise has made, it seems to me, one of the most important contributions to Wagnerian scholarship that we have seen.”
“Heise’s book is not an easy book. But it is a deep book. All Wagnerians know that The Ring is full of enigmas. But the enigmas are resolved by Heise in a most pleasing, intense and persuasive way. ... I don’t agree with all that he says. But he awakens interest, argument, dissent and wonder at every point, linking the text minutely to the musical realisation, and bringing this great work to life in a way that I hope you will appreciate as much as I have.” (Quotations from Roger Scruton’s Introduction to www.wagnerheim.com by kind permission of his widow Sophie Scruton.)
“Everybody with ears knows that the Ring is full of meaning ... . Yet what exactly does it mean? I have wrestled with this question for many years, have been helped by this or that critical discussion or this or that striking performance. But much became clear to me when I discovered what is probably the only complete commentary on the Ring, which goes step by step through the text and the music, and explores some of its many allegorical meanings with relentless devotion and ardor. This is the commentary composed over many years by Paul Heise, which he has now made available to the public on his remarkable website www.wagnerheim.com.” (From ‘The Ring of Truth’, May, 2011 issue of The American Spectator.)
[p. 10] “ ... in an early and highly influential commentary Bernard Shaw gave an allegorical reading of the Ring cycle. More recently, in one of the most thorough accounts of The Ring to date, Paul Heise has defended a comparable allegorical interpretation, aligning the characters and actions of the drama with forces at work in forging civilization from the raw material of nature.”
[p. 191] “Heise’s Feuerbachian allegory is more plausible [than that of George Bernard Shaw in his The Perfect Wagnerite].” (Quotations from The Ring of Truth —The Wisdom of Wagner’s ‘Ring of the Nibelung,’ Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2016.)

Dr. William Webster
Former Professor of German Studies at Stanford and contributor to Opera Quarterly.
“... it would seem to claim a unique place for itself as the Wagnerian interpretation to end all interpretations, for the author sees in Wagner’s later music-dramas the key to unlock the riddle of human nature. (...) ... I am of the opinion that a case can be made for at least part of the author’s audacious interpretations of the Ring and the other music dramas.” (Forwarded to me on 10/12/85 by Dr. L.J. Rather (deceased), author of The Dream of Self- Destruction and of Wagner Reading, and former Professor at Stanford University.)

Reviews of Paul Brian Heise’s allegorical interpretation of Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung entitled The Wound That Will Never Heal (published by Academica Press 9/20211):

by Dr. Harvey Shoolman (Philosophy Dept., London Metropolitan University) in a private email);

and by Dr. Paul Bishop (William Jacks Chair of Modern Languages - German, at the University of Glasgow) in the peer-reviewed Journal of European Studies

Dr. Harvey Shoolman (Professor of Philosophy at London Metropolitan Univ., and an eminent authority on the early modern Jewish philosopher Spinoza) granted me permission to share the following portions of two private emails he sent to me in April of 2022 in which he offered his initial response to having read 1/3 of my published allegorical interpretation of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung entitled The Wound That Will Never Heal. His initial critical response to my life’s work contains some of the most impressive commentary on it ever written. He’s promised to write a more detailed review of my book and submit it for publication when opportunity permits, but since April of 2022 he’s had some challenges of a personal nature which so far have thwarted his original intent. His major work on Spinoza is Naturalistic Explanation in Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’: Being Mind-Full of Nature.


“Dear Paul


The truth is this: I began the book about 6 weeks ago and became rivetted. I must confess that I'd assumed the book would be an eminently 'worthy' trawl through the cycle, plodding, predictable, well-intentioned but ultimately bland.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Firstly, the almost visceral passion with which you write about this immense tonal cosmology, the obvious love that you have for Wagner's creation and the literally existential importance it has for you comes through in the writing in a palpable, tissue-energized way that is, in my experience, unique in musicological literature.

Then there are the deep structural insights and the gradual unfolding of a tonal patterning that, in its sheer breadth and cosmogenic ambition leaves the reader breathless. The Feuerbachian connection and philosophical analysis on its own (with appropriate nodding to Cooke's pioneering account) is worth the price of admission. You use the motif of Marie Curie x-ray penetration at the beginning and you indeed go on to deliver by providing a penetrative hermeneutic grid that allows even the untutored (like you I don't read music) reader to appreciate the 'anatomy' of this leviathanic tonal masterpiece in terms of the complexity of the musculature, the nervous system, the skeletal and histological structure of the limitless patterning and weaving that Wagner has wrought.

Another treasure I've imbibed is the extraordinary way you have enlightened me as to the manner in which Wagner treats aesthetic intuition as literally a form of gnosis. Your Feuerbachian interpretation of Wagner's obvious antisemitism, with its root and teleological thrust firmly in the direction of egoistic universality has provided me with much food for thought, specifically in terms of Wagner's 'volkish' understanding of the origins of the religious impulse .

The fact is that I was so enjoying reading the book, was so completely engrossed in it, that I wanted to jealously preserve and ration my immersion in it by setting aside leisure hours and brief weekend and holiday respites from work and writing and devoting those 'spots of time' (as Wordsworth called them), completely to the book. Unfortunately, my enjoyment has been repeatedly interrupted by work-based equivalents of Porlockian intrusion … .

I managed to get about halfway through the Valkyrie before my reading was last interrupted and I plan to carry on my reading enjoyment when we take a week's holiday next month.

What I can say, unequivocally, is that I'm convinced your book is a tremendous hermeneutic achievement and a literal watershed in Wagner studies. Indeed, it's one of the most exciting and innovative musicological reads I've ever experienced. I can't wait to discover how the narrative unfolds. (…)

My best, as ever


In an email from 8/14/2023, Dr. Shoolman, having completed his reading of my book, but also being prevented, due to circumstances beyond his control, from writing and publishing a complete, formal critique of my book, said the following:

I found nothing in your book, in my subsequent reading of it, to in any way change or deflect my previous view that your book is a truly seminal contribution to the Wagner hermeneutic. I'd go further and say it's the most important book on Wagner's 'Ring' since Cooke, and, given that Cooke's was a mere torso of what he intended, then your book is literally non pareil.

Dr. Paul Bishop is the William Jacks Chair of Modern Languages (German) at the University of Glasgow. I copied the following from his write-up in the university website:
Research interests:
Business and commercial applications of modern languages
Intercultural approaches to business and commerice
Intellectual history; modern German thought
Nietzsche, Jung, Klages
German reception of thought of antiquity, esp. in the George Circle 
Austrian and German television, radio, social media

“German Studies
The Wound That Will Never Heal: An Allegorical Interpretation of Richard Wagner’s ‘The Ring of the Nibelung’. By Paul Brian Heise. Washington, DC and London: Academia Press, 2021. Pp. xx + 592. $99.95 (hbk).
On 24 February 1869, Wagner wrote to King Ludwig II of Bavaria: ‘If I wanted to tell you more about Siegfried today, I should have to speak of a dark, sublime and awesome dread with which I enter the realm of my third act. We come here, like the Hellenes at the reeking crevice at Delphi, to the nub of the great world tragedy: the world is on the brink of destruction; the god [i.e. Wotan] seeks to ensure that the world is reborn [...]. Everything here is instinct with sublime terror, and can be spoken of only in riddles’ (cf. p. 287). For many, the thought of some 15 hours of Wagnerian music is sufficient to instil a sense of [336 Journal of European Studies 52(3–4)] terror (whether sublime or not), and even seasoned opera-goers often find it a challenge to deal with the numerous riddles scattered across this Bühnenfestspiel, presented in 3 days preceded by a Vorabend, and in Wagner’s various remarks about the work. Given which, it is natural to turn to expositions that claim to provide an overall account of the Ring, beginning with George Bernard Shaw’s The Perfect Wagnerite (1898) and more recent studies by Robert Donington (1963), Deryck Cooke (1979), Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990) or Roger Scruton (2016). Few, if any, interpretations can, however, offer the kind of remarkable granular detail one finds in Paul Brian Heise’s study The Wound That Will Never Heal, the fruit of years – decades, even – of listening to and reflecting on the operas of Wagner.

To the ‘problem’ of Wagner’s great, four-part music-drama – put simply, just what does it all mean? – Heise provides a ‘solution’ that is at once beguilingly simple and (in its execution) intriguingly complex: namely that as a music-drama the Ring ‘expresses a unified philosophy or world-view through allegory’ (p. 6). This interpretation is set out in the form of 12 theses (or ‘pillars’, as Heise describes them) (pp. 12–3). In short, however, Heise undertakes to substantiate Wagner’s own claim made in 1858 to Mathilde Wesendonck that ‘there was never another man who was poet and musician at once in my sense, and therefore to whom an insight into inner processes has become possible such as could be expected of no other’ (cf. p. 7).

As an allegory, Heise argues, the Ring demonstrates the profound impact on Wagner of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872), the great Left Hegelian thinker famous in Wagner’s time (although less so nowadays) for his doctrine of the humanity of the divine as put forward in The Essence of Christianity (1841). Despite Wagner’s later critique of Feuerbach’s materialistic philosophy and Wagner’s embrace (much to Nietzsche’s annoyance) of Schopenhauer’s pessimism, the Ring translates key notions found in Feuerbach into musical-dramatic form, even down to individual characters in the operas (Alberich, e.g. is read as a metaphor for ‘objective thought’ (p. 33), while Siegfried represents the ‘artist-hero’ (p. 515)). Indeed, Wagner himself insisted on the allegorical nature of his work when he wrote that ‘in this sacred allegory an attempt is made to transmit to worldly minds [. . .] the mystery of divine revelation’ (cf. p. 49). Yet this ‘revelation’, understood as the gospel according to Feuerbach, was that, even if religious faith as conceptual thought is dying out as a result of the scientific advancement in knowledge, our longing for transcendence persists in what Feuerbach called ‘the last refuge of theology’ and defined as ‘feeling’ (cf. pp. 207 and 331–2). Thus the construction by the giants of Valhalla while the gods sleep is said to be ‘an astounding example of Wagner’s talent for translating the most arcane aspects of Feuerbach’s critique of religion into fairy-tale metaphors by employing his musical motifs in the most subtle ways’ (p. 52); after all, for Feuerbach ‘dreaming is the key to the mysteries of religion’ (cf. pp. 47 and 148), and this explains why the sleeping Brünnhilde represents allegorically the unconscious mind of Wotan. From the Feuerbachian unconscious arises a new, Wagnerian dream or the vision of the most heroic deed of all: the creation of the redemptive work of art.

The tension between the Ring-as-Feuerbachian-allegory and Heise’s recognition of the importance, not least in Wagner’s case, of the inner processes of unconscious inspiration, prevents his astonishingly comprehensive study from becoming a totalizing, schematic account. As Wagner once confessed to August Röckel: when in the Ring he believed himself to be showing ‘how a whole world of injustice arises from the first injustice’, he had in fact been ‘unconsciously following a quite different, and much [Book Reviews 337] more profound, intuition’, so that ‘what emerged was something totally different from what [he] had originally intended’ (cf. p. 515). Unlike many critics, Heise invests equal significance in Wagner’s libretto as well as in his music (p. 145), a methodological approach that aligns neatly with his book’s conclusion that the Wagnerian music-drama constitutes a unique vehicle for aesthetic redemption.

While drawing closely on Donington’s Wagner’s ‘Ring’ and its Symbols, Heise notes that his book is not a Jungian interpretation (p. 17); this is true, inasmuch as it does not go in search of archetypes (and, as inevitable in such a search, end up finding them), but its core argument that the un-healable wound of its title is the problematic gift of consciousness is not a million miles away from Jung (who, incidentally, in Symbole und Wandlungen der Libido (1911–1912, Symbols and transformations of libido) examined Wagner’s Siegfried in considerable psychological detail). In Psychologische Typen (1921) Jung draws an insightful link between the motif in Parsifal that ‘nur eine Waffe taugt: / die Wunde schliesst / der Speer nur, der sie schlug’ (‘but one weapon serves: / only the spear that smote you / can heal your wound’) and Schiller’s image in his Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen (1794, On the aesthetic education of the human being) of culture as a painful wound – and his warning against relinquishing a totality in our nature which ‘cunning art has demolished but which a still higher art may re-establish’. (And in the image of a wound we have a link to the figure of Prometheus (pp. 16–7, 62, 78, 161) – an archetypal figure if ever there was one!) The essentially ‘unconscious inspiration’ (p. 223) behind Wagner’s works helps explain the remarkable continuity between the completion of the second act of Siegfried and his return to the composition of its third act in 1869 – a 12-year gap during which he completed the libretto texts and music of Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (pp. 286–7).

This raises another point. Although Heise touches repeatedly, if perhaps somewhat unsatisfactorily, on the thorny issue of Wagner’s anti-Semitism, the real unfinished business of this study is the relation between the Ring and Wagner’s other works, the three canonical operas (Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin) and the other music-dramas (Tristan, Meistersinger, and Parsifal) – and this is to be the subject of a future volume II (p. 529). In the meantime, Heise’s study can be warmly recommended to anyone seeking a better understanding (and a deeper appreciation) of the Ring and who wishes to disengage from its ‘universal message’ what Wagner called ‘the inmost secret of the artist’s thought’ (cf. p. 332).
Paul Bishop”
Site Admin
Posts: 541
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Re: Order paperback of my "Ring" book for $40.00

Post by alberich00 » Wed May 10, 2023 8:13 am

test 5/10/2023
Site Admin
Posts: 541
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Re: Order paperback of my "Ring" book for $40.00 in time for Bayreuth Festival

Post by alberich00 » Fri Jul 28, 2023 8:49 am

test 7/28/2023
Post Reply