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Strauss, F.H. (1964). Wagner's “Ring” and its symbols, by Robert Donington. London, Faber & Faber, 1963. pp. 325. 42s.. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(2):187-188.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(2):187-188

Wagner's “Ring” and its symbols, by Robert Donington. London, Faber & Faber, 1963. pp. 325. 42s.

Review by:
F. H. Strauss

The author describes what he sets out to convey in this book when he writes: “I shall try to tell the story of the Ring with some of the spontaneous excitement in which we experience it in the opera house; I shall bring in aspects of Wagner's own life-story which may throw light on the symbols. I shall have something to say about the symbols in the music as well as in the myth. My general approach will be on the lines opened up by the work of Jung” (p. 20).

Much in Donington's study appeals strongly to me. I am surprised that someone shared with me the experience of having heard “The Valkyrie” as a child. I sympathize, largely, with the author's musical likes and dislikes in the Ring. I share his approach to the interpretation of works of art, especially his opinion that there is nothing finite about any explanation; and I am impressed by the basic broad-mindedness of his psychological view, a fact to which the bibliography, with critical notes, also bears witness.

Interpretations of the happenings in the Ring are made by what can be termed a classical Jungian method. The dramatis personae are split into shadow, anima, and animus figures, and ample use is made of the interplay between ego and self which, at times, amounts to an ego-self antithesis. Granting the author's premiss that Wotan in “The Rhinegold” is a figure in the prime of life (p. 70), it is, on the whole, convincingly argued that the Ring represents a “process by which Wotan, in his role as representative of the ego, made up his mind to yield to the superior power of the self” (p.

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