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Rein Gold Reviews

Rein Gold by Elfriede Jelinek, Gitta Honegger

Rein Gold

Elfriede Jelinek, Gitta Honegger

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publication date: 13 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9781913097448

2004 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Elfriede Jelinek's REIN GOLD reconstructs the events of Wagner's epic Ring cycle and extends them into the present day. Originally written as a libretto for the Berlin State Opera, REIN GOLD is a 'buhnenessay', an essay for the stage, on the birth and eventual death of capitalism.

2 stars out of 5
Peter Conrad
28 Feb 2021

"Imagine a Wagner opera without the music – seven hours of dense verbal repetition, lacking the benefit of an oceanic orchestra and exultant singing voices"

Jelinek is certainly fluent: she once compared writing to projectile vomiting, which warns readers to dodge the ejecta when opening one of her books. The Nobel award noted her “musical flow of voices and counter-voices”. Yes, the characters in Rein Gold do make deft contrapuntal patterns with ideas, and their twin streams of consciousness gush, eddy and sometimes drool or drivel like the river in the Ring – but they lack the lyricism that humanises Wagner’s war-whooping Brünnhilde and renders the stricken Wotan tragic. Self-exiled from opera, B and W are woefully unable to sing.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Catherine Taylor
7 Jan 2021

"Intertextual monologues that bring Wagner’s epic ‘Ring’ cycle into the modern age"

In book form, translated with verve by Gitta Honegger, it becomes a series of monologues without paragraph breaks: a frequently discordant assault on the senses. ... The humour is wry and playful, until it isn’t. Jelinek’s list of sources is diligent up to a point: “Some Sigmund Freud, but I don’t remember what.” Rein Gold does, however, present issues in terms of concentrated reading. Ultimately it is a libretto that needs staging and music — or even a page break — to bring it fully alive.