By Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox

The most self sustaining thinkers in German highbrow heritage, the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting type to literature, philosophy, theology, feedback, and drama idea. 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 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 stimulated 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 locations him in the broader context of the eu Enlightenment. It discusses his pathbreaking dramas, his both progressive theoretical, severe, and aesthetic writings, his unique fables, his cutting edge paintings in philosophy and theology, and his major contributions to Jewish emancipation. the amount concludes by way of reading 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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Extra info for A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

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26 Lessing’s contemporaries were moved to tears, the play received many favorable reviews, and even Diderot was interested in translating it. The plot presents a rewriting of the classical story of Jason and Medea, though Lessing has done away with the trappings of royalty to bring tragedy to the level of so-called ordinary people. In this first German “bourgeois tragedy” it does not matter that Sir William is of the lesser nobility. By moving away from kings and queens, by writing in prose, not verse, by emphasizing not the public sphere, but rather the private one of the family and opening that to tragedy, Lessing articulated the values and sentiments of the rising German bourgeoisie.

15 One of Lessing’s finest early dramas, Der junge Gelehrte compared favorably with Enlightenment comedies by such established playwrights as Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715–1769) or Johann Elias Schlegel 20 BARBARA FISCHER AND THOMAS C. FOX (1719–1749). Lessing sketched this traditional satire as a first draft in Meissen and finished it in Leipzig in 1747–48. The play reveals autobiographical traces in the characters Damis (with hints of the young Lessing in Meissen) and Valer (with echoes of the more mature Lessing in Leipzig), and pillories Damis’s pedantic scholarly existence with its meaningless, selfserving discussions divorced from real learning.

Miß Sara Sampson clearly breaks with French influence and the conventional dramatic forms and rules favored by Gottsched. Lessing instead follows English models, the Restoration drama and the English family novel, for this play set in England. Sara Sampson, a virtuous young woman, has at the beginning of the play eloped with her lover Mellefont to a wretched inn. The conflict between passion and religiously motivated morality structures much of the play and culminates with Sara’s death. Through the tragedy of Sara’s passing, her father Sir William Sampson becomes capable of unconditional love for humanity.

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