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The Total Work of Art in European Modernism$
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David Roberts

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450235

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450235.001.0001

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Religion and Art: Parsifal as Paradigm

Religion and Art: Parsifal as Paradigm

(p.101) 5 Religion and Art: Parsifal as Paradigm
The Total Work of Art in European Modernism

David Roberts

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes the total work as symbol. Wagner’s Parsifal, one of the most important inspirations for the European symbolist movement, stands as the paradigm of the restoration of the symbolic function of art and of the will to the resacralization of the stage. It discusses how Wagner’s path from the festival of the revolution to a renewal of art religion takes us from the unique celebration of the revolution in a temporary theatre constructed for the occasion, as envisaged by Wagner in 1851, to the establishment and institutionalizing of a festival theatre, a temple of art, intended as a site of pilgrimage and sacred performances. It also argues that Parsifal is the pivot on which Ernst Bloch’s philosophy of music turns, forming the bridge between the history of music, which culminates in Wagner’s last work, and the theory of music, which takes the form of a speculative aesthetics.

Keywords:   work of art, symbol, Richard Wagner, Parsifal, European symbolist movement, art religion, Ernst Bloch, philosophy of music

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