Staging the Absolute: The Total Work of Art from Wagner to Mallarmé

David Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Heidegger places Wagner's will to the total work of art at the centre of the long 19th century. Nietzsche's and Mallarmé's responses to Wagner reflect all the ambiguities of modernism's myth of absolute creation: the dreams of a new mythology and a new community are shadowed by the knowledge that the gods are nothing more than our fictions. Nietzsche and Mallarmé continue and critically interrogate the two distinct lineages of the total work of art deriving from German romanticism and the French Revolution respectively, at the same time as they anticipate the contrary constructions of the sacred in society in Le Bon and Durkheim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-106
Number of pages17
JournalThesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • aesthetic illusion
  • art
  • Gesamtkunstwerk
  • myth
  • religion
  • total work of art

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