Ella, by Max Ferguson, 1989.
No cars are permitted to drive the path that winds up the mountain. In fair weather,
as now in late April, buses and horse-drawn
carriages convey visitors up the slopes, but con-
ditions of ice and snow close the road to all
except foot traffic. Even after the shuttle drop-
off point, travelers must walk the final, steepest
leg of the journey through a forest of knotty-
rooted firs, ferns, mosses, and toadstools. The
silence is broken only by birdsong, the rustling
of chaffinch or black squirrel through the un-
derbrush, and the tramp of hikers. Like the
fool Parsifal, who wanders into the mountains
of the Grail knights, I marvel, “I scarcely tread,
yet seem already to have come far!”
At last I see the castle, Neuschwanstein,
turreted and crenellated, shining white as a
swan, perched on the edge of the cliff against
the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps. The building
appears as though the product of centuries of re-
construction and renovation, right down to the
architectural irregularities of the asymmetrical
HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?
by Alison Kinney
Alison Kinney is the author of Hood, a cultural history, and she writes a column for The Paris Review
Daily on the art and artifacts of opera fandom. She lives in New York City.
Act One: In the domain of the Grail. Forest, shady and solemn but
not gloomy. Rocky soil. A clearing in the center. On the left a path
rises to the castle. The background slopes down in the center to a
deep-set forest lake.
—Richard Wagner, Parsifal