Something More Profound than Prejudice

As Wagner illustrates, anti-Semitism is more than a mere dislike of Jews—it’s a metaphysical condition that shapes the very way the world is perceived.

January 12, 2015 | Edward Rothstein
About the author: Edward Rothstein is Critic at Large at the Wall Street Journal. His essays in Mosaic include “The Problem with Jewish Museums” and “Jerusalem Syndrome at the Met.”
This is a response to Wagner and the Jews, originally published in Mosaic in January 2015

A 2010 production of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal in Stuttgart, Germany. MICHAEL LATZ/AFP/Getty Images.

Reading Nathan Shields’ powerful essay, “Wagner and the Jews,” reawakened memories from two decades ago when I attended the Bayreuth festival as a music critic. My most potent recollections are not of the performances I heard of Wagner’s music; nor do I recall any great revelations about the mind of the master who designed and built this self-aggrandizing temple. But I was left with three sensory impressions, and they have proved indelible.

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