Art Books Philosophy

Roger Scruton’s “The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung”

Roger Scruton’s The Ring of Truth is now the best introductory and in-depth exploration of the great genius of Richard Wagner’s grandest (and most famous) opera. Scruton’s book provides context to Wagner’s work, summarizes the story of the opera for those unfamiliar with it, then proceeds into a third section of critical engagement with the work itself. Thus, the book breaks down into an introduction to the culture and times of Wagner, the story of the opera, and criticism.

The criticism (i.e., appraisal) is the best part of the book. Scruton doesn’t whitewash the “problems” of Wagner but doesn’t concentrate on them either. For concentration on the personal shortcomings of Wagner distract us from the magnificence of the work he composed. Scruton highlights how love is the central theme of the Ring cycle and how it moves to culminating conclusion in Gotterdammerung with the reality of love as sacrifice. In doing so, Scruton not only summarizes the story, explores important moments, and comments on the music, he helps us unlock the mysteries, imagery, and music that constitute the heart of the Ring cycle and why it is so beloved.

Throughout the work we also witness the extent that Wagner synthesized politics, mythology, philosophy, and theology into his opera—notwithstanding this musical compositions to help tell the story and convey the meaning and emotion to the audience. Here, Scruton shines (as a trained philosopher this shouldn’t be surprising that Scruton is able to help bring together the minefield of 18th and 19th century German philosophy that accompanies Wagner’s work). This helps the reader or Wagner aficionado gain a deeper appreciation of the work than “just the music.” (After all, Wagner composed the work for more than mere musical aesthetics.) For anyone looking for an introduction and good in-depth examination of Wagner’s “The Ring” cycle, this is now the definitive work which is also readable unlike heavy academic treatises.

This review is from my Amazon review of my former professor’s monumental work on Wagner’s greatest masterpiece.

Roger Scruton, The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung


Hesiod, Paul Krause in real life, is the editor of VoegelinView and a writer on art, culture, literature, politics, and religion for numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of The Odyssey of Love and the Politics of Plato, and a contributor to the College Lecture Today and the forthcoming book Diseases, Disasters, and Political Theory. He holds master’s degrees in philosophy and theology (biblical & religious studies) from the University of Buckingham and Yale, and a bachelor’s degree in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.


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1 comment

  1. Dear Hesiod and other visitors to this website:

    I’m contacting you to announce the publication by Academica Press on 9/1/2021 of my allegorical interpretation of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung entitled The Wound That Will Never Heal (614 pages). This is the product of a half century’s study that demonstrates the allegorical coherence of Wagner’s Ring. The introduction was written by Roger Scruton.

    My newly published interpretation of Wagner’s Ring demonstrates that it’s an allegory which dramatizes the evolution of reflectively conscious man from preconscious animal ancestors (Alberich’s Ring being Wagner’s symbol for human consciousness), the gradual decline of religious faith (twilight of the gods of Valhalla) in the face of man’s gradual accumulation of a hoard of objective, scientific knowledge, and Wagner’s (Siegfried and his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Brünnhilde’s) attempt to substitute the Wonder of his secular music-dramas for dying religious faith. 

I recommend my book to you, the most comprehensive conceptual analysis of Wagner’s Ring libretto and his employment of musical motifs in the literature. I’m also requesting that you forward this news to anyone else you believe would be interested, including colleagues, faculty, students, and others.

    If you’re interested, contact me at, and I’ll email you pdf versions of three brief documents that provide context: 

    (1) a description of what makes my study unique in Wagner scholarship, including information on how to order it from my publisher Academica Press to obtain it at the author’s discount of $59.95 (rather than the $100.00 being charged by online booksellers):

    (2) endorsements of my research by prominent Wagner scholars (Robert Donington, Andrew Gray, Bryan Magee, Barry Millington, Roger Scruton, and William Webster).

    (3) a mini-biography. 

    I trust that you will find this of interest, and that you will consider reading The Wound That Will Never Heal.


    Paul Brian Heise of;


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