London: Schott, 1877. First Edition. 1/2 cloth. 1st collected edition in English, complete in 356 pages (a copy with less pages is missing something). The Rhein–Gold, The Walkyrie, Siegfried, and Dusk of the Gods, preceded in English only by the privately printed individual librettos (a hastily gathered, abridged assembly, of 238 pages total, published to secure copyright). Our edition (issued to accompany Wagner’s conducting of the cycle in London) has all 4 parts with all the stage directions and dialogue. Contemporary half cloth, marbled boards, printed paper label, near fine, complete with the volume half–title, the 4 half–titles for the individual parts, and the coda (To Richard Wagner). Ex–Edw. Schuberth, with his company’s oval stamp to the general half–title. Near fine. Item #95
The source was the prodigious German epic poem Das Nibelungen Lied, anonymously written by an unknown massive–aggressive in the 12th century about events in the 5th or 6th. It recounts the deeds of Siegfried the Dragon Slayer (the Germanator), his betrayal and murder, and the revenge of his wife Kriemhilda (the real heroine). In 1816 Professor of philology Karl Lachmann began a careful study of the 11 known, more or less complete, manuscripts, then ordered them chronologically, collated, corrected, translated and amalgamated them, to finally produce the version in Middle High German. It remains a foundational pillar of European literature, but it was Wagner (1813–1883) who transformed it into an opera (the only venue where people die of love) by first revisiting Lachmann, then brooding upon it, and finally escalating, the dramatic, harmonic, and most famously, the instrumental forces beyond any of his predecessors, setting a new and basic, though often ignored, challenge for his successors. The Ring Cycle exemplifies his theories, and it’s conjoining with national epic poetry, was the appropriate agent for a masterwork.