The Wagnerian Illusion
(“L’illusion wagnérienne”, Portraits et souvenirs, Société d’édition artistique, 1899, 206–220)
This chapter presents a personal reflection regarding the style and music of Wagner. It argues that so long as commentators confine themselves to describing the beauties of Wagner's operas, one has no quarrel with them; and if they exhibit a tendency to bias and hyperbole, then there is nothing surprising in that. But as soon as they get down to details, wanting to explain to people how music drama differs from lyric drama, and that from opera, why music drama must necessarily deal in symbols and legends, and such questions that initiate people into all these fine things, one no longer understands anything about the subject at all.
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