The Playwright as Perfect Wagnerite: Motifs from the Music Dramas in the Theatre of Bernard Shaw


Arthur Ganz


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Let us begin with some hypothetical circumstances - for the moment dissociated from the names of the persons whom in fact they concern. A young man, brought up in a musical household and especially knowledge about opera, determines upon a career as a writer. As he makes his way in the literary world, he becomes a music reviewer, the liveliest and most perceptive of his day. He also becomes the champion of a musico-dramatic artist, the grandiosity of whose conceptions and the novelty of whose techniques make him, even at the culmination of his career, a figure of controversy. So passionate does the young writer's advocacy of his hero become that he produces a book explicating the composer's major work (ingeniously if somewhat perversely in terms of the socialism to which our writer has become committed). He then turns to dramatic criticism and at last finds his true métier as a playwright. Nevertheless - and here we come to the crux of our hypothesis - despite the young writer's long public admiration for an artist who was not only a composer but one of the seminal dramatic theorists and practitioners of the age, the older composer-dramatist has no discernible influence on the young playwright's work.

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