I. Warming-up II. Background information III. Structural Analysis IV. Detailed Study of the Text V. Grammar VI. Study of Text II VII. Keys to Exercises
Pre-reading questions:
  1. What is a monster? Have you ever seen one?

  2. What kind of man is comparable to a monster?
Questions to check the understanding of the text:
  1. In what way was Wagner physically odd?
  2. Why did he always take himself as the center of his conversations?
  3. How would he respond to disagreement?
  1. Refer to Para.
  1. He had a short stature with a disproportionately large head. And he had skin disease.
  2. Refer to Para.
  2. He believed he was one of the greatest men in the world, a great composer, a great thinker and a great dramatist combined into one. A man of such arrogance cannot help but take himself as the center of conversations.
  3. Refer to Para.
  3. If anyone showed slight disagreement with him, he would make a lengthy and aggressive speech for hours to prove himself to be in the right. This would force his dazed and deafened hearers to surrender.

  4. What emotional features did he possess?
  5. How does the author justify Wagner's arrogance and extravagance?
  6. In what sense may Wagner be said to be a monster?

  4. Refer to Para.
  5. He was emotionally capricious like a child. Rapture in him could easily turn into extreme melancholy. Heartlessness and callousness were witnessed on different occasions. Moreover, his emotional states always found outward expressions.
  5. Refer to Para. 11 and
  12. The author says that Wagner was among the greatest dramatists, the greatest thinkers and the most tremendous musical geniuses in our world. His immortal works far exceeded in value the tortures his arrogance inflicted upon others and the debts he owed.
  6. Refer to Para.
  13. The tremendous creative power, which propelled him to produce so many memorable works in his little span of life, could have crushed his poor brain and body. However, he miraculously survived and made all the immortal accomplishments. In this sense he was a monster rather than a human being.
Decide which of the following best states the author's purpose of writing: A. To criticize Richard Wagner for his distasteful characteristics. B. To probe into the reasons why Wagner had such unpleasant characteristics. C. To argue that Wagner's contributions and creativity render forgivable his displeasing characteristics. Reference: C
Judge, according to the text, whether the following statements are true or false.
  1. Believing himself to be a mixture of a great dramatist, a great composer and a great thinker, Wagner enjoyed showing himself off but allowed for no disagreement.
  2. He was an emotionally stable man in general though he sometimes showed extreme emotions in life.
  3. Wagner was innocent in terms of liabilities despite the fact he was mostly dependent upon others for a living.

  4. In Wagner's life quite a few women came to him because they were attracted by his high renown ad then left him because they were intolerant of his monstrous personality.
  5. To the author, Wagner's beliefs, words and conducts are all justifiable on the ground of his contributions and creativity, and thus subject to no criticism.
  6. Wagner was a monster in the sense that the tremendous creative power within him worked in an exceedingly constructive manner without crushing his poor brain and body along the way.
  1. T. Refer to Paragraphs 2-
  2. F. Refer to Paragraph 5, which indicates he was emotionally unstable. As a matter of fact, he was described to be emotionally capricious as a child.
  3. F. Refer to Paragraph 7, which states he was taken responsible for large sums of debts.
  4. F. refer to Paragraph
  8. A lot of women came into his life as a result of his pursuit and were abandoned by him in the end.
  5. T. Refer to Paragraph
  6. T. Refer to Paragraph
II. Background Information

  1. About the text: first appeared as a radio talk, entitled A Monster, later published with the title Of Men and Music in the United States in 19
  2. About he author: Deems Taylor, American musician and critic.
美国作曲家,音乐评论家.1885年12月22日出生 于纽约.1906年毕业于纽约大学.在从事一段新 闻工作后,1921-1925年担任《纽约世界》杂志 的音乐评论员,1927-1929年担任《音乐美国》 (Musical America)杂志的编辑.1933年受聘为 哥伦比亚广播公司的音乐顾问.1936-1943年担 任纽约爱乐广播公司的评论员. 泰勒第一部成名的作品是创作于1919年的管 弦乐组曲《透过窥镜》(Through the Looking Glass),此后他受大都会歌剧院之约创作的两部 歌剧《国王的随从》(The King's Henchman, 19
  27)和《彼得艾伯特逊》(Peter Ibbetson, 19
  31),都非常成功.他还创作了其他一些管弦 乐作品和电影音乐,撰写过《人与音乐》(Of Men and Music)等多部著作.1940年,他还曾 在迪士尼的动画片《幻想曲》中担任评论员. 泰勒于1966年7月3日逝世于纽约.
Taylor was born in New York City and educated at New York University (NYU). He initially planned to become an architect; however, despite minimal musical training he soon took to music composition. The result was a series of works for orchestra and/or voices. In 1916 he wrote the cantata The Chambered Nautilus, followed by Through the Looking-Glass (for orchestra) in 1918, earning him public praise and recognition.
Taylor was also a friend of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers, actors and critics that met almost daily from 1919-1929 at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. He briefly dated Dorothy Parker.
In 1921 he secured a job as music critic for the New York World, a post he held when approached by the Metropolitan Opera to suggest a composer to write a new opera. He put forth his own name, and was accepted, the result being The King's Henchman, with the libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Peter Ibbetson followed in 19
  29. Taylor was a promoter of classical music throughout his life, working in broadcasting, and as intermission commentator for the New York Philharmonic. He even appeared in Walt Disney's 1940 film Fantasia as the film's master of ceremonies. Taylor also served as the president of ASCAP for six years.

  3. Richard Wagner: German composer, born in Leipzig on 22 May 1813 and died in Venice on 13 February 18
  83. He did more than any other composer to change music, and indeed to change the art and thinking about it. His life and his music arouse passions like no other composer's. His works are hated as much as they are worshipped; but no one denies their greatness.
瓦格纳的贡献首先表现在对歌剧的革新上,他在猛烈地 鞭挞当时流行的迎合贵族和资产阶级庸俗趣味的歌剧同 时,大胆地提出了歌剧应该和希腊悲剧,莎士比亚戏剧 及贝多芬的交响乐一样,成为进步思想的宣传者.瓦格 纳对音乐的另一个贡献是他撰写了大量的评论和论文, 瓦格纳的文章有的讽刺了所谓 " 上流社会 " 的音乐与 社会风尚,有的则对艺术家的处境表示理解和同情.青 年时期,瓦格纳的思想主要倾向于 " 青年德意志 " , 但他也受到费尔巴哈和巴枯宁的影响,写过许多狂热激 进的文章,甚至参加过德累斯顿的革命. 1848年欧洲 资产阶级革命失败以后,瓦格纳逐渐接受了叔本华,尼 采等人的思想,后来甚至成为种族理论戈比诺的忠实门 徒,开始大力宣传大日耳曼主义,瓦格纳的 " 音乐艺 术 " 也成为德意志帝国主义意识形态和 " 普鲁士精 神 " 的一面旗帜.
瓦格纳是大型管弦乐的创始者,对歌剧艺术有重 大改革.首先,他建议一个歌剧作曲家要参与剧 本创作,作整部歌剧的总导演;其次,他强调预 先确定的和弦是歌剧艺术的基础;第三,他作品 中的内核就是连续旋律的发展,利用翻来复去的 旋律产生柔顺悦耳的音乐效果,乐曲内部很少出 现正常的终止式.瓦格纳探索和发展了前人对铜 管乐器的研究,找到了铜管乐音响的合理基础, 使萨克斯管与管风琴,小号,长号组合在一起, 发出和谐的音响.他的许多作品有着威武骑士的 色彩,充满了金属的辉煌.
他的代表作品有《尼伯龙根的指环》,《莱茵的 黄金》,《女武神》,《齐格费里德》,《诸神 的黄昏》等 11部歌剧,9首序曲,1部交响乐,4 部钢琴奏鸣曲及大量合唱曲,艺术歌曲等,并写 了《艺术与革命》,《歌剧与戏剧》等几部关于 歌剧改革的著作. 作家生平的作品:《漂泊的荷兰人》,《纽伦堡 的名歌手》,《尼伯龙根的指环》,《汤豪舍》
III. Textual Analysis
Part I. Paragraphs 1-9 This part gives an account of the peculiar features of a monster in his appearance and personality. Part II. Paragraph
  10. A transitional paragraph which clarifies who this monster really is. Part III. Paragraphs 11-13 This part justifies all the peculiar behavior of the monster.
Detailed study of Part I.
Comprehension questions:
  1. Does the man's appearance, described in the first paragraph , give one any impression of "grandeur"? Reference: No. He is a little man with the sign of illness, sick in both body and nerves. This is by no means an appearance that may bring one a sense of grandeur. Then what makes the man with such a poor look have "delusions of grandeur"? The only explanation is that he is "a monster of conceit."

  2. What are the further evidences of the monster's conceit? Reference: to prove his conceit, the second paragraph describes him as so egocentric that he cared about nothing but himself; he had such a strong sense of self-appreciation that he saw himself not just as the greatest musician, polemist and philosopher, but also as the world's finest living poet and playwright. And the third paragraph tell that he never expected criticism or allowed disagreement.

  3. What kinds of grammatical devices are used to emphasize the extreme extent of his peculiar conceit? Reference: Inverted sentence: Never for one minute did he look at the world or at people, except in relation to himself. The superlative forms of adjectives: one of the greatest dramatists in the world; one of the greatest thinkers, and one of the greatest composers; one of the most exhausting conversationalists that ever lived; the slightest hint of disagreement; on the most trivial point.

  4. What kind of versatile man is he? Reference: Besides his activity as a composer and a librettist, Wagner wrote an astonishing number of books and articles, in fact about 230 titles. His literary spectrum ranges from theories of opera to political programs. He has been classified as an anarchist and a socialist and, simultaneously, as a proto-fascist and nationalist, as a vegetarian and an anti-Semite….In fact, his name has appeared in connection with almost all major trends in German history of the 19th and 20th centuries.

  5. How does the writer describe him as an emotional person? Reference: He had a mood as changeable as a six-year-old child. For example, he would get mad when something was against his desire, and forgot all about it when something pleasant happened. And he would be grieved on one occasion but become merciless on another.

  6. How was he financially supported? Did he earn himself a good living with his great talents? Reference: He lived on others' money. Through his life, he found many benefactors, among whom King Ludwig II and Otto Wesendonck were two of the most generous ones. In 1864 King Ludwig II, his greatest benefactor, invited him to settle in Bavaria, near Munich, discharging all his debts and providing him with money.
Another generous patron Otto Wesendonck, whose wife was stolen away by Wagner, supported him economically by buying the publishing rights of his works. However, later it turned out that he had to give up his publishing rights because Wagner had sold them again to others. Although these benefactors had provided him with a great sum of money and never got any repayment, Wagner kept living in debts and in a narrow escape from being thrown into jail for debts for he was a lavish spender.

  7. What is his attitude toward love? Reference: It seems that he was a playboy. He divorced with his first wife Minna Planer after 26 years' marriage (183618
  62) and stole away other people's wives, e.g. Jessie Laussot, Mathilde Wesendonck, Cosima von Bǖlow, the last one was the wife of the conductor Hans von Bǖlow, and Liszt's daughter.

  8. Why do you think Wagner made so many enemies? Reference: The reason for Wagner to have made many enemies is also his conceit, because he could not tolerate anyone who disagreed with him, even over some trivial points like weather. He was under such a delusion of grandeur that he would do anything to defeat them in order to defend his image as a perfect genius rather than keep them as friends.
Language work

  1. undersized: too small or smaller than usual, especially because of lack of growth.

  2. delusion: a false belief or opinion Eg. The sick man is under the delusion that he is Napoleon. Delusion of grandeur: a false belief in oneself as a person with great beauty, power, or intelligence, etc.

  3. in relation to: concerning; with regard to Eg. I have a lot to say in relation to your new project.
  4. roll



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