Dr. Harvey Shoolman (Professor of Philosophy at London Metropolitan Univ., and an eminent authority on the Jewish early modern European philosopher Spinoza) granted me permission to share the 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, which is now available in paperback for $40.00 at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
EMAIL FROM SHOOLMAN 4/18/2022:
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
EMAIL FROM SHOOLMAN 4/19/2022:
It would be a privilege to write a review. At this time I'd have to give some thought as to where I'd prefer to place it (certainly TLS/NYRB are distinct possibilities) … . (…)
I'm very excited about your volume 2. For me, Parsifal is the apex of Wagner's tonal universe and it has always retained an enormous fascination for me. I very much hope you'll give us a richly detailed analysis of it, richer than anyone else has managed to do so far. (…)
My best, as ever
EMAIL FROM SHOOLMAN ON 8/14/2023:
Though Dr. Shoolman has been prevented from completing a formal review of my book and from seeking publication of it due to the intrusion of personal circumstances beyond his control, in his email of explanation from 8/14/2023 he did provide his ultimate assessment of my book's value, describing it as the most important published interpretation of Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" since Deryck Cooke's groundbreaking study "I Saw the World End," published in 1976, and as therefore the most important book on the subject:
"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."
General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung
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