One of the first posts I made at Occam’s Razor was about J.R.R. Tolkien’s indebtedness to German Romanaticism, so I was very pleased when I started reading Collin Cleary’s series on Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. It’s a five part series and, as of tonight, he’s put up the first three installments, which I’ve anxiously been reading in bed every night on my Blackberry:
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition: Part 1: The Origins of Der Ring des Nibelungen
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition: Part 2: The Story of Der Ring des Nibelungen
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition: Part 3: Wagner’s Use of Source Materials for the Ring
This is some really good stuff. Collin Cleary presents one of the most lucid and probing accounts of the Ring cycle I’ve ever read.
My only one minor quibble with the series, so far, is that he makes too much fuss about the “German” sources vs the “Scandinavian” sources. If one but takes a step back, they’re all Germanic in the broad sense — closely related tribes going back to the Völkerwanderung.
That said, I cannot wait to read the next two installments. You should set aside some time to read this series. If you know nothing of the Ring cycle, this will serve as an accessible introduction.