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Nietzsche and Wagner
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This book, first published in German in 1996, presents an absorbing account of the bizarre and fluctuating relationship between the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the composer Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima. Nietzsche was twenty-five when he first met Wagner and his thirty-two-year-old mistress Cosima (daughter of Franz Liszt and at that time wife of the conductor Hans von Bulow) in May 1869. The relationship survived on a combination of mutual intellectual admiration - dominated by the bullying Wagner - and erotic jealousy until the composer's death in 1883 and the philosopher's own descent into madness six years later. Joachim Kohler brings this turbulent relationship vividly to life. He shows - for the first time - how their traumatised childhoods bound Nietzsche and Cosima in submission to the demonic, ageing Wagner, how Nietzsche was enticed into the Bayreuth labyrinth, entrapped in its culture wars and used as a tool in its sectarianism and anti-Semitism. The book sheds new light on Nietzsche's early writings, showing how they were subverted by Wagner to parade his own ideas - of German superiority, of the domination of the masses by a few chosen geniuses, and of the supremacy of art and aesthetics over morals and humanity. The source of Nietzsche's 'Superman' and 'Will to Power' are traced to the pre-fascist ideology of Richard and Cosima Wagner, an ideology later uncomprehendingly idolised by Hitler's Reich. Joachim Kohler, a graduate of the universities of Tubingen, Wurzburg, New York and Stanford, is a writer and publisher. Ronald Taylor is the author of 'Berlin and its Culture', published by Yale University Press.
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