Complexity and Ambivalence in Nietzsche’s Relationship with Wagner


Abstract
This review essay expands on two excellent collections dealing with Nietzsche and Wagner and is drawn from the proceedings of conferences in the bicentennial year of Wagner’s birth. It points to four areas underplayed in the contributions. The first involves Nietzsche’s adoption of Wagnerian ideology, especially anti-Judaism, in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The second deals with Nietzsche’s actual activities and sentiments regarding the inaugural Bayreuth festival in 1876 and his later reports of these activities and sentiments. A third topic concerns the break from Wagner, its likely causes, and its stylization in Nietzsche’s recollections from the 1880s. And lastly the essay examines the ambivalence toward Wagner in Nietzsche’s writings from 1888 as part of an autobiographical imperative. In general, the collections reviewed place too much trust in Nietzsche’s own accounts of the relationship with Wagner and fail to recognize that, especially in the 1880s, the philosopher is engaged in a process of self-fashioning to bring his current views into harmony with a history embellished and manipulated to give the appearance of linear development and consistent beliefs.
Keywords Anti-Judaism  Wagner
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DOI 10.1515/nietzstu-2018-0020
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