Sep 1967 • Vol. XXIX No. 4 Book ReviewsSeptember 1, 1967 |

Of Eros, Heroes, and Neros

Richard Strauss: The Life of a Non-Hero by George R. Marek. Simon and Schuster, $7.95. In February 1902, Gustav Mahler wrote prophetically to his wife about Strauss that "my day will dawn when his sun has set." Even Time, that cultural bellwether, has recently come to the same conclusion, based characteristically on record sales, and has decided that the current "full-scale Mahler boom" (about ten years old, in fact) is attributable to Mahler's being so "high-strung," which is rather like calling the Atlantic Ocean ''moist." Strauss, too, was fairly high-strung, as any five minutes of Salome or Elektra will attest, but in a way that is somehow considered vieux jeu. While Mahler has become the avatar of modern existentialist Angst, Strauss is seen merely as the embodiment of Wilhelmine German bluster and arrogance, a second-grade neurosis not much in favor these days outside the United Arab Republic. He was chosen by Barbara Tuchman in The Proud Tower as the Dantesque persona

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