synopsis of my interpretation of "Tristan and Isolde"

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synopsis of my interpretation of "Tristan and Isolde"

Post by alberich00 » Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:58 am

Dear members and visitors to's discussion forum:

Well over a decade ago I posted an introduction to the content and scope of my prospective book on Wagner's seven repertory operas and music-dramas from "The Flying Dutchman" through "Parsifal" (the four-part "Ring" reckoned here as a single work), "The Wound That Will Never Heal," at Included in this introduction were thumbnail sketches of my interpretations of all seven works, so that readers could obtain an overview of how I construe these artworks as conceived by Wagner within one single conceptual frame of reference. I am posting in this discussion forum my synopses of Wagner's seven canonic operas and music-dramas, from 'Dutchman" through "Parsifal," so readers can see in brief how I relate one artwork to another in context.

Here is the synopsis of my interpretation of "Tristan and Isolde":

Tristan is interpreted in light of Wagner’s observation in Epilogue to the ‘Nibelung’s Ring’ that Tristan is in essence the same story as Twilight of the Gods, a variant of the same myth. Tristan, like Siegfried Wagner’s metaphor for the artist-hero, unwittingly exposes the secret of his unconscious artistic inspiration, and thus exposes the secret of his true identity which the heroine Isolde’s love keeps for him, to his audience, by giving his muse Isolde to King Marke (like Gunther Wagner’s metaphor for his own audience). Isolde’s anger at Tristan stems primarily from the fact that she had kept the secret of his identity through her silence, a secret he has glibly now exposed for all the world to see, thus tearing open again the wound she had temporarily healed. Tristan, like Siegfried and Parsifal Wagner’s metaphor for the unconsciously inspired artist who has fallen heir to man’s religious longing for redemption from reality, has also like them fallen heir to the sin of world- renunciation, religious pessimism. This sin’s archetype is Wotan’s original sin against (denial of) Erda’s - Mother Nature’s - knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, which brought down upon Wotan Alberich’s curse. Wotan represents the historical Folk who invented their God as the antithesis to, and substitute for, Mother Nature (Erda). Thus Tristan, Siegfried, and Parsifal regard themselves in various ways as responsible for their mothers’ death (i.e., figuratively, for “killing” Mother Nature, as Feuerbach put it), either by being born through her death (Tristan and Siegfried), or killing her through neglect (Parsifal’s mother died of a broken heart because he abandoned her to seek out the Grail knights). One thinks here of Orestes’ matricide, and Athena’s role in redeeming him. The artist-hero Tristan suffers from the fact that he is growing conscious of having perpetuated this sin, which is punished by an unhealing wound, and wishes to end his life. Tristan, Siegfried, and Parsifal – each in different ways – confuse the heroine-muse (their lover or, in Parsifal’s case, his potential lover Kundry) with their mother, because the art which the muse inspires them to create is a surrogate for man’s true mother, Nature, and also because man’s unconscious mind, according to Feuerbach, is Mother Nature in man.
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