Degeneration And Evolution - A Reply to my Critics

By Max Nordau



Richard Wagner (7551 bytes)

The Wagner Library

Edition 1.0

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About this Title


Degeneration And Evolution - A Reply to my Critics
By Max Nordau

The North American Review
Volume 161 Issue 464
Pages 80-90
Published in 1895

Original Page Images at Cornell University Library

Reading Information

This title contains 538 words.
Estimated reading time between 2 and 3 minutes.

Page numbers are indicated using square brackets, like [62], while footnotes are indicated using parenthesis, like (1).

Degeneration And Evolution.

A Reply to my Critics.

By Dr. Max Nordau.

THREE critics have raised their voices against me in this magazine. I desire, first of all, to pay my compliments to Mr. Hazeltine. My dealings with him shall be reserved for the end. Mr. Cox and Mr. Seidl pair together exceedingly well. They are closely allied intellectually. Both possess the identical four characteristics that mark them as members of the same family. They write in bad faith, they are vulgar, they are ignorant, and they are incapable of argumentation. Whenever I detect these features in critics, I am accustomed to pass them by with a shrug of the shoulder. They have no claim upon recognition. And in answering them, I do so merely out of respect for the place where their production appeared and for the public which has done them the honor of reading it.

[Gap: The first reply does not concern Wagner. (8 pages) ]



I HAVE but little to say to Anton Seidl. In his three pages of frightful ejaculations I have found only two statements which have demonstrated themselves as correct. I am said to have used Praeger's biography as a prop for my assertions concerning Wagner. My chapter on Wagner covers forty-three pages. Praeger is mentioned in it only once. That passage is, "For Wagner's persecution mania we have the testimony of his most recent biographer and friend, Ferdinand Praeger, who relates that, for years, Wagner was convinced that the Jews had conspired to prevent the representation of his operas." This is the only reference to Praeger, who is not mentioned before nor afterward, whose book I have not used in any other place, from whom I have taken no other allegation. And those few lines afford Anton Seidl a pretext to maintain that I drew materials from him "to substantiate my silly accusations." I would not have needed to have recourse to Praeger even for the information that Wagner imagined himself persecuted by the Jews, as there is other testimony in great abundance to the same effect.

The second statement is that I "cite Nietzsche as a competent critic of Wagner's dramatic poetry, but reject Nietzsche as of imbecile judgement in critizing Wagner, the musician." I was speaking of the part which the salvation idea played with Wagner and said, page 184: "Nietzsche has already remarked this and makes merry over it, with repulsively superficial witticisms." And thus I cite Nietzsche as a "competent critic of Wagner's dramatic poetry"! Any other reader than Anton Seidl would understand this passage to mean that "Wagner's [90] salvation-stupidity was so palpable that even a lunatic like Nietzsche could not help perceiving it."