(K. Brent Tomer),
The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. By Roger Scruton. Allen Lane; 400 pages; £25.
IT IS gargantuan in every way. The “Ring of the Nibelung”, known as the “Ring” cycle, lasts about 15 hours and is performed over four evenings. A new instrument, the “Wagner tuba”, was invented for it; a concert hall, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, constructed for its premiere. Its composer, Richard Wagner (1813-83), began writing the opera in 1848, a year when Europe was torn by nationalist and democratic revolutions, but did not finish it until 26 years later. The finished product is considered the finest piece of musical theatre ever written, a sweeping artistic expression of a period in which the world was swiftly moving towards modernity. Sir Roger Scruton, a newly knighted English philosopher, tries to make sense of it in his latest book, “The Ring of Truth”.
Based on a knitting together of German and Icelandic tales, the opera revolves around a ring, fashioned in gold from the Rhine by Alberich, a dwarf, that grants the power to rule the world. The struggles over the ring lead to love,…Continue reading