Cover image for Death-devoted heart : sex and the sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde
Death-devoted heart : sex and the sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde
Scruton, Roger.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxord ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
vi, 238 pages ; 22 cm
Wagner and religion -- The story of Tristan -- Wagner's treatment of the story -- The music of Tristan -- The philosophy of love -- Tragedy and sacrifice -- Love, death and redemption -- Epilogue : From romance to ritual.
Reading Level:
1440 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.W14 S47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A tale of forbidden love and inevitable death, the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde recounts the story of two lovers unknowingly drinking a magic potion and ultimately dying in one another's arms. While critics have lauded Wagner's Tristan and Isolde for the originality and subtlety ofthe music, they have denounced the drama as a "mere trifle"--a rendering of Wagner's forbidden love for Matilde Wesendonck, the wife of a banker who supported him during his exile in Switzerland. Death-Devoted Heart explodes this established interpretation, proving the drama to be more than just a sublimation of the composer's love for Wesendonck or a wistful romantic dream. Scruton boldly attests that Tristan and Isolde has profound religious meaning and remains as relevant today as it wasto Wagner's contemporaries. He also offers keen insight into the nature of erotic love, the sacred qualities of human passion, and the peculiar place of the erotic in our culture. His argument touches on the nature of tragedy, the significance of ritual sacrifice, and the meaning of redemption,providing a fresh interpretation of Wagner's masterpiece. Roger Scruton has written an original and provocative account of Wagner's music drama, which blends philosophy, criticism, and musicology in order to show the work's importance in the twenty-first century.

Author Notes

Roger Scruton is a well-known writer, philosopher, journalist, and former professor of philosophy. He has written more than thirty books on aesthetics, culture, and politics

Table of Contents

1 Wagner and Religionp. 3
2 The Story of Tristanp. 15
3 Wagner's Treatment of the Storyp. 35
4 The Music of Tristanp. 75
5 The Philosophy of Lovep. 119
6 Tragedy and Sacrificep. 161
7 Love, Death, and Redemptionp. 177
Epilogue: From Romance to Ritualp. 195
Appendix Table of Motivesp. 199
Notesp. 209
Selected Bibliographyp. 225
Indexp. 233