The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria
Ludwig II of Bavaria has inspired a fascination like no other 19th century monarch. Best remembered for his patronage of Wagner and the imaginative genius of his extraordinary ""fantasies in stone"", and alternately dubbed ""the Swan King"", the ""Mad King"", and the ""Dream King"", Ludwig’s life and death have long been characterized by mystery, legend, and romance. In this penetrating biography, Christopher McIntosh seeks to unravel these layers of mystery and reveal the man at the core of the legend, shedding new light on the more ambiguous aspects of Ludwig II’s life - his latent homosexuality, supposed madness, and the enduring mystery of his death. Ludwig II’s short life is steeped in tragic irony. Through his idealistic quest for romance and his fixation with Bavarian myths and legends, most tellingly with the Grail stories of Lohengrin - so potently incarnated in Wagner’s operas - the Swan King became more fabled than the very legends he sought to recreate. Yet in his desire to escape from a cloistered upbringing and the stale pattern of his adult life as king and his subsequent neglect of Bavaria at such a fragile period in its history, Ludwig planted the seeds of his own undoing - exposing himself to the treachery of factions unnerved by his eccentricity, extravagance, and luminous vision. Ludwig II’s death marked the passing of the old Bavaria and the birth of a new order, yet his legend lives on, a nineteenth century King Arthur, a man surpassed by his own mythological persona.
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