December 18th, 2005

belzoni

[Eliptony Core Sample] Ber-Bor

Besack, Michael, The Esoteric Wagner: An Introduction to 'Der Ring Des Nibelungen' (Regent Press, 2004)

Good luck finding this one, folks. I scored a pre-press review version (labeled "IN LIEU OF GALLEYS") at Powell's a few months back. My academic knowledge of opera is scant at best, but from what I can puzzle out, Besack seems to be taking a neo-Jungian approach to Wagner, which is fair enough what with both of them being crazy Aryanists and all. This book starts a lot of game, even in some fairly worked-over country, but I haven't yet figured out what Besack's actually driving at. At various points, he claims that the Ring cycle follows Kabbalistic patterns of "metahistory," which strikes me as pretty unlikely but not, I suppose, impossible for a masterpiece composed by a well-read mystic in 19th century Germany. Along the way, there is much stern tail-chasing through the sort of Hamlet's Mill kind of mythographic underbrush one gets nowadays -- René Guénon, Frances Yates, and Karl Kerényi all get shout-outs, and there's a whole chapter forbiddingly titled "The Tantric Thread." Think a rough-hewn, Teutonic White Goddess, about a Romantic masterpiece rather than a Welsh riddle-poem, and you'll have the flavor of this weird knurl of taffy. And hey, props to Besack for giving us an index -- a desideratum ignored more often in eliptony than in RPG books, if you can believe it.

Honorable Mentions: Bondeson, Jan, The London Monster; Bord, Janet and Bord, Colin, The Secret Country