Tolstoy McStudge

Sarah Dimento has the honour to inform us that Tolstoy agrees with Smiggy McStudge about Wagner:

The actor with the horn opens his mouth as unnaturally as the gnome, and long continues in a chanting voice to shout some words, and in a similar chant Mime (that is the gnome’s name) answers something or other to him. The meaning of this conversation can only be discovered from the libretto; and it is that Siegfried was brought up by the gnome, and therefore, for some reason, hates him and always wishes to kill him. The gnome has forged a sword for Siegfried, but Siegfried is dissatisfied with it. From a ten-page conversation (by the libretto), lasting half an hour and conducted with the same strange openings of the mouth, and chantings, it appears that Siegfried’s mother gave birth to him in the wood, and that concerning his father all that is known is that he had a sword which was broken, the pieces of which are in Mime’s possession, and that Siegfried does not know fear and wishes to go out of the wood. Mime, however, does not want to let him go. During the conversation the music never omits, at the mention of father, sword, etc., to sound the motiv of these people and things.

It is not known at present whether Tolstoy was a McStudge by blood, by marriage, or by adoption, or whether he merely learnt his craft at the prestigious Studzhnik Institute in St. Petersburg.


  1. I’m not clear on this. Does McStudge say that the Ring Cycle was the turning point in opera because of the way it was written, or because of the way it was received? Does he hold that the Ring Cycle is bad as is, or that its reception was disingenuous snobbism that had nothing to do with the quality of the opera itself?

    • So far as I can make out, the McStudge believes that the Ring’s reception was disingenuous snobbism, and that this is shown by the fact that some of the worst parts of it were the most highly praised. And he approves of this very strongly, because nothing offends a McStudge like seeing someone appreciate good art because it is good.

      Tolstoy, on the other hand, seems to have thought that the Ring was dreck from beginning to end. But he thought that about nearly all works of then-current art and literature (including his own).

  2. Tolstoy famously wrote a book-length attack on Shakespeare: I’ve never read it, but that might also be a place to look for a McStudge connection.

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