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Understanding Wagner

There is a chasm between the popular perception of Wagner and the reality. Wagner is one of music's great thinkers

By Michael Prowse   December 2000

one of my formative experiences was reading Bryan Magee’s short book on Karl Popper in a single session. I was in my early 20s and had never imagined that philosophy could be so exciting. Magee’s clear prose and infectious enthusiasm opened up a new world for me. I began to read many other philosophers. Later, I read Magee’s book on Arthur Schopenhauer and was intrigued by an appendix on Wagner.

Since I now count both philosophy and Wagner’s operas as significant sources of pleasure, I have reason to be grateful to Magee. His latest book marks the culmination of his…

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