Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times, and has fascinated both critics and devotees for over a century and a half. No recent study has examined the meaning of Wagner's masterpiece with the attention to detail and intellectual power that Roger Scruton brings to it in this inspiring account. The Ring of Truth is an exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of the Ring from a writer whose knowledge and understanding of the Western musical tradition are the equal of his capacities as a philosopher. Scruton shows how, through musical connections and brilliant dramatic strokes, Wagner is able to express truths about the human condition which few other creative artists have been able to convey so convincingly. For Wagner, writes Scruton, the task of art is to 'show us freedom in its immediate, contingent, human form, reminding us of what it means to us. Even if we live in a world from which gods and heroes have disappeared we can, by imagining them, dramatize the deep truths of our condition and renew our faith in what we are.'
Love, death, sacrifice and the liberation that we win through sacrifice - these are the great themes of the Ring, as they are of this book. Scruton's passionate and moving interpretation allows us to understand more fully than ever how Wagner conveys his ideas about who we are, and why the Ring continues to be such a hypnotically absorbing work.
The "Ring" cycle may be a European work nearing its 140th birthday, but Sir Roger is surely right to argue that it still has "relevance to the world in which we live". The existential consequences of throwing off the yoke of religion is debated in many countries. Europe is swept by movements seeking to break free from certain structures of society towards some nebulous alternative. Moreover, Sir Roger successfully shows just how important the "Ring" was to the history of music and philosophy. After reading this book, only the most unadventurous reader would turn down the chance to see Wagner's masterpiece. Economist
Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher who has held positions at the universities of London, Oxford, Boston and St Andrews and who has written widely on art, architecture, music and aesthetics. His books include his now classic Short History of Modern Philosophy (1981), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde (2004), Fools, Frauds and Firebrands (1985, republished 2015) an examination of the New Left and its influence on intellectual life in Europe and America. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.