Written in exile from Germany, this potent study of Europe’s most controversial composer explodes the frontiers of musical and cultural analysis. Measuring key elements of Wagner’s oeuvre with patent musical dexterity, Adorno sheds light on a nineteenth-century bourgeois figure whose operas betray the social gestures and high-culture fantasies that helped plant the seeds of the modern Culture Industry. A foreword by Slavoj iek situates Adorno’s reflections within present debates over Wagner’s anti-Semitism and the moral status of his work, proving why this book remains one of the most important character studies of the twentieth century.
“A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature.”—Susan Sontag
“An astonishing book, comparable only to the later Wagner tracts by Nietzsche … essential reading for anyone seriously involved with the composer, and now we can read it thanks to a superior translation by Rodney Livingstone.”—New York Review of Books