By Barbara Fischer, Thomas C. Fox
Essentially the most autonomous thinkers in German highbrow background, the Enlightenment writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting model 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 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 non secular tolerance and intolerance and the conflict of civilizations. Lessing's dramas are the oldest German theater items nonetheless played usually on German and foreign levels. either his performs and his drama idea have stimulated 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 lifestyles and occasions and locations him in the broader context of the eu Enlightenment. It discusses his pathbreaking dramas, his both innovative 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 thought. 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)
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. He learns to overcome the barriers that separate people, including family members, by shedding his own role of authoritarian patriarch in order to become a prime example of bourgeois virtue.
In the eighteenth century, translations fulfilled a double purpose: they brought German readers into contact with non-German literature, philosophy, and culture, and they exerted a considerable influence on the formation of German as a literary language. Lessing, not a friend of French theater in general, nevertheless valued the work of Denis Diderot, whom he highly respected. Diderot’s interest in new forms of theater made him an ally of Lessing, who attempted to break open the ossified constraints of neoclassical genres.
The young prince Philotas has been wounded in his first battle and taken prisoner by King Aridäus. While Philotas makes clear that he would have preferred death to captivity, Aridäus informs him that the king’s own son, Polytimet, has also been taken into captivity by Philotas’s father. Aridäus hopes for a speedy exchange of hostages. Philotas, realizing that his father would have the advantage over Aridäus if his son were dead, commits suicide for the fatherland. In the end, Aridäus contemplates the vanity of war and its bloodshed; he is determined to give his conquests to Philotas’s father in 26 BARBARA FISCHER AND THOMAS C.