Winnie and Wolf

Front Cover
Arrow Books, 2008 - Art appreciation - 361 pages
9 Reviews

Winnie and Wolf is the story of the extraordinary relationship between Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler that took place during the years 1923-40, as seen through the eyes of the secretary at the Wagner house in Bayreuth.

Winifred, an English girl, brought up in an orphanage in East Grinstead, married at the age of eighteen to the son of Germany's most controversial genius, is a passionate Germanophile, a Wagnerian dreamer, a Teutonic patriot.

In the debacle of the post-Versailles world, the Wagner family hope for the coming, not of a warrior, a fearless Siegfried, but of a Parsifal, a mystic idealist, a redeemer-figure. In 1923, they meet their Parsifal - a wild-eyed Viennese opera-fanatic in a trilby hat, a mac and a badly fitting suit. Hitler has already made a name for himself in some sections of German society through rabble-rousing and street corner speeches. It is Winifred, though, who believes she can really see his poetry. Almost at once they drop formalities and call one another 'Du' rather than 'Sie'. She is Winnie and he is Wolf.

Like Winnie, Hitler was an outsider. Like her, he was haunted by the impossibility of reconciling the pursuit of love and the pursuit of power; the ultimate inevitability, if you pursued power, of destruction. Both had known the humiliations of poverty. Both felt angry and excluded by society. Both found each other in an unusual kinship that expressed itself through a love of opera.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
3
3 stars
0
2 stars
4
1 star
1

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mattparfitt - LibraryThing

If you're interested in Wagner's operas -- and especially if you're troubled by their association with Nazism and anti-semitism -- this is a fascinating book. I won't claim any expertise concerning ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PLReader - LibraryThing

A rather disjointed but moving story of the Wagner family. It was hard to understand the background without constant reference to both a dictionary and an encyclopedia. I thought that this book was an ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2008)

A. N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has held a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is an award winning biographer and a celebrated novelist, winning prizes for much of his fiction. He lives in North London.

"From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information