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

By Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox

Probably the most autonomous thinkers in German highbrow historical past, the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting type 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 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 on a regular basis on German and foreign levels. either his performs and his drama concept have prompted 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 occasions and areas 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 via reading the reception of Lessing and his oeuvre in Nazi Germany, within the former East and West Germanys, and in modern serious idea. 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 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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He did all this at a time when there existed no unified German nation. Lessing worked in many spheres: literature and literary criticism, theology and philosophy, criticism, journalism, and translation. Despite the magnitude and versatility of his oeuvre, one can discern several recurring and unifying characteristics. Lessing employed a highly flexible, multidimensional, dialectical mode of thought. For him, thinking meant searching; the anti-dogmatic idea that no fixed truth exists (except with God) served him as guide.

Historians view Moses Mendelssohn, Lessing’s close friend from his Berlin years and a prominent representative of German-Jewish Enlightenment, as the model for Nathan. For some nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Jews, Nathan’s message, that all three religions should tolerate each other and concede each other a degree of social equality, prophesied the fulfillment of Jewish emancipation legally instituted to a large extent in 1871, and fully in 1919. In 1929, at commemorations of Lessing’s two-hundredth birthday, many speakers, among them Reichspräsident von Hindenburg and Thomas Mann, praised Lessing’s play of tolerance as a high point of German literature and culture.

While residing in Wolfenbüttel, Lessing once again encountered the influence of the Prussian king. Frederick’s sister, Philippine Charlotte, was married to Duke Carl I, who ruled the principality from 1735–1780. Prince Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, who was born on 9 October 1735 in Wolfenbüttel, was a favorite nephew of Frederick the Great. On 13 March 1772, on the occasion of the birthday of Philippine Charlotte, the première of Emilia Galotti took place. A “bürgerliches Trauerspiel,” Emilia Galotti is probably Lessing’s greatest prose drama despite its frequently cited imperfections, which result in part from the gap between the start of its composition in late 1757 or early 1758 and its hasty finish for the royal birthday in 1772.

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