A Companion to the Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Overview

One of the most independent thinkers in German intellectual history, the Enlightenment author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting fashion to literature, philosophy, theology, criticism, and drama theory. Lessing invented the bürgerliches Trauerspiel (bourgeois tragedy) and wrote one of the first successful German tragedies as well as one of the finest German comedies. In his final dramatic masterpiece, Nathan der Weise, he writes of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, of ...

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Overview

One of the most independent thinkers in German intellectual history, the Enlightenment author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) contributed in decisive and lasting fashion to literature, philosophy, theology, criticism, and drama theory. Lessing invented the bürgerliches Trauerspiel (bourgeois tragedy) and wrote one of the first successful German tragedies as well as one of the finest German comedies. In his final dramatic masterpiece, Nathan der Weise, he writes of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, of religious tolerance and intolerance and the clash of civilizations. Lessing's dramas are the oldest German theater pieces still regularly performed (both in Germany and internationally), and both his plays and his drama theory have influenced such writers as Goethe, Schiller, Hebbel, Hauptmann, Ibsen, Strindberg, Schnitzler, and Brecht. Addressing an audience ranging from graduate students to seasoned scholars, this volume introduces Lessing's life and times and places him within the broader context of the European Enlightenment. It discusses his pathbreaking dramas, his equally revolutionary theoretical, critical, and aesthetic writings, his original fables, his innovative work in philosophy and theology, and his significant contributions to Jewish emancipation. The volume concludes by examining 20th-century reception of Lessing and his oeuvre. Contributors: 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 Associate Professor of German and Thomas C. Fox is Professor of German, both at the University of Alabama.

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Meet the Author

Thomas C. Fox is Professor of German at the University of Alabama

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Table of Contents

Selected works by Lessing
Introduction 1
Lessing's life and work 13
Lessing and the European Enlightenment 41
Lessing the critic : polemics as enlightenment 67
Lessing and the fable 89
Lessing's poetics as an approach to aesthetics 105
Lessing and philosophy 133
Lessing and theology 157
Lessing and the Jews 185
Lessing's drama theory : discursive writings on drama, performance, and theater 211
Gender and identity in Lessing's dramas 231
Lessing and the Third Reich 261
Lessing on the German-speaking stage in the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, 1945-1990 283
Lessing on the East German stage and screen 301
Modern criticism in historical context : 200 years of Lessing reception 327
The Lessing Museum and research center for Lessing reception in Kamenz 353
The Lessing Academy in Wolfenbuttel 357
A brief history of the Lessing Society 359
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