A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing by Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox

By Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox

The most self reliant thinkers in German highbrow historical past, the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting style to literature, philosophy, theology, feedback, and drama concept. As a playwright, Lessing invented a brand new German dramatic style, the bourgeois tragedy or bürgerliches Trauerspiel, and wrote one of many first winning German tragedies, Miß Sara Sampson, in addition to one of many best 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 concept have motivated such writers as Goethe, Schiller, Hebbel, Hauptmann, Ibsen, Strindberg, Schnitzler, and Brecht. Addressing an viewers starting from graduate scholars to pro students, this quantity introduces Lessing's existence and occasions and areas him in the broader context of the eu Enlightenment. It discusses his pathbreaking dramas, his both innovative theoretical, severe, and aesthetic writings, his unique fables, his cutting edge paintings in philosophy and theology, and his major contributions to Jewish emancipation. the quantity concludes via interpreting the reception of Lessing and his oeuvre in Nazi Germany, within the former East and West Germanys, and in modern severe concept. individuals: 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 collage of Alabama.

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Additional info for A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

Sample text

Through his metonymical friendship with the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786), and through his association with freemasonry, Lessing lived the idea of social, political, and religious equality. In this essay we introduce Lessing’s historical environment, present the important stations and signal events of his life, and introduce his major works. Subsequent contributions to this Companion will expand upon the outline we sketch here. Lessing’s Times Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born on 22 January 1729 in Kamenz, a small, provincial Saxon town northeast of Dresden, close to what is today the Polish-German border.

34 Lessing also delved into philosophy and theology during his time in Breslau, conducted research on the Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677), and developed his own theological standpoint between orthodoxy and rationalism. Lessing’s experiences with the life of soldiers, including those dismissed from service, influenced his later literary production. He came into close contact not only with the cruelty of the battlefield (he accompanied Tauentzien into battle and participated in the siege of Schweidnitz), but also with the frustrations of military bureaucracy, which he later worked into his best-known comedy, Minna von Barnhelm.

He traveled toward Berlin, rested in Wittenberg due to illness, and arrived in the Prussian capital in late 1748. There he found modest shelter with Christlob Mylius, who had already served as Lessing’s mentor in Leipzig before himself leaving for Berlin. ”11 Exchanges of heated letters between the young bohemian and his parents demonstrate that the subject of theater versus theology proved a constant source of irritation. Yet Lessing saw little difference between pulpit and stage: both allowed public influence and served as moral institutions when the written and unwritten laws of society failed to function adequately.

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