By Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox
The most self reliant thinkers in German highbrow heritage, the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting style to literature, philosophy, theology, feedback, and drama thought. As a playwright, Lessing invented a brand new German dramatic style, the bourgeois tragedy or bürgerliches Trauerspiel, and wrote one of many first profitable German tragedies, Miß Sara Sampson, in addition to one of many most interesting German comedies, Minna von Barnhelm. In his ultimate dramatic masterpiece, Nathan der Weise (Nathan the clever, 1779), he writes of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, of spiritual tolerance and intolerance and the conflict of civilizations. Lessing's dramas are the oldest German theater items nonetheless played frequently on German and overseas levels. either his performs and his drama thought have motivated such writers as Goethe, Schiller, Hebbel, Hauptmann, Ibsen, Strindberg, Schnitzler, and Brecht. Addressing an viewers starting from graduate scholars to professional students, this quantity introduces Lessing's lifestyles and instances and areas him in the broader context of the eu Enlightenment. It discusses his pathbreaking dramas, his both progressive theoretical, serious, and aesthetic writings, his unique fables, his leading edge paintings in philosophy and theology, and his major contributions to Jewish emancipation. the quantity concludes through analyzing the reception of Lessing and his oeuvre in Nazi Germany, within the former East and West Germanys, and in modern serious conception. participants: Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox, Steven D. Martinson, Klaus L. Berghahn, John Pizer, Beate Allert, H. B. Nisbet, Arno Schilson, Willi Goetschel, Peter Höyng, Karin A. Wurst, Ann Schmiesing, Reinhart Meyer, Hans-Joachim Kertscher, Hinrich C. Seeba, Dieter Fratzke, Helmut Berthold, Herbert Rowland. Barbara Fischer is affiliate professor of German and Thomas C. Fox is professor of German, either on the college of Alabama.
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Additional resources for A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
45 Lessing has here once again updated a classical story, yet commentators have pointed out that in the Roman story, the daughter’s death leads to an uprising, an event Lessing pointedly omits. Is this an indication of resignation, or a call for action? Should not the father have murdered the Prince rather than his own daughter? In a letter to his brother, Lessing himself describes the play as a modernized Virginia retelling, devoid of all political concerns;46 this may indicate that his concerns were indeed elsewhere, or he may have been downplaying the political aspects of the play to avoid censorship.
He adds that he cannot understand why a writer of comedies should not be a good Christian. Comedies, he continues, describe the ludicrous side of vice. 14 Gottsched’s rules for the theater, which Lessing later subjected to scathing ridicule, influenced the latter’s early writing. At a time when German drama compared poorly with that of England and France, Gottsched functioned as an influential German pioneer of theatrical reform. In his Versuch einer Critischen Dichtkunst (Essay in Critical Poetics, 1730) he defined the rules for all literary and dramatic genres, based on morality, reason, and good taste as well as the critical principles of seventeenth-century French drama.
Lessing himself, although able to read, understand and translate Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and English, wrote his extensive oeuvre in the German language. In light of eighteenth-century “Germany’s” extreme political fragmentation, intellectuals viewed German language, philosophy, literature, and especially drama as potential elements of cultural consolidation. Such elements helped educated German speakers to imagine themselves as belonging to a community called Germany. In this sense one can understand the rather optimistic title of the short-lived (1767–68) German National Theater in Hamburg, where Lessing worked as dramaturge, playwright, and LESSING’S LIFE AND WORK 17 literary critic.
A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture) by Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox