His father was a Lutheran minister and wrote on theology. Young Lessing studied at the Latin School in Kamenz from to Afra in Meissen. After completing his education at St. He translated several French plays for her, and his interest in theatre grew.
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His father was a Lutheran minister and wrote on theology. Young Lessing studied at the Latin School in Kamenz from to Afra in Meissen. After completing his education at St. He translated several French plays for her, and his interest in theatre grew. During this time, he wrote his first play, The Young Scholar.
Neuber eventually produced the play in From to , Lessing lived in Leipzig and Berlin. He began to work as a reviewer and editor for the Vossische Zeitung and other periodicals. Lessing formed a close connection with his cousin, Christlob Mylius, and decided to follow him to Berlin. In , Lessing returned to Berlin, leaving in to work for three years at the Hamburg National Theatre.
His work in Hamburg formed the basis of his pioneering work on drama, titled Hamburgische Dramaturgie. Unfortunately, because of financial losses due to pirated editions of the Hamburgische Dramaturgie , the Hamburg Theatre closed just three years later. His tenure there was energetic, if interrupted by many journeys. In , for example, he accompanied Prince Leopold to Italy. She died in after giving birth to a short-lived son. On 15 February , Lessing, aged 52, died during a visit to the wine dealer Angott in Brunswick.
Lessing was also famous for his friendship with Jewish-German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. He began publishing heated pamphlets on his beliefs which were eventually banned. It was this banishment that inspired him to return to theatre to portray his views and to write Nathan the Wise.
Works[ edit ] Early in his life, Lessing showed interest in the theatre. In his theoretical and critical writings on the subject—as in his own plays—he tried to contribute to the development of a new type of theatre in Germany. With this he especially turned against the then predominant literary theory of Gottsched  and his followers. He believed the French Academy had devalued the uses of drama through their neoclassical rules of form and separation of genres.
His repeated opinions on this issue influenced theatre practitioners who began the movement of rejecting theatre rules known as Sturm und Drang "Storm and Stress".
He worked with many theatre groups e. Today his own works appear as prototypes of the later developed bourgeois German drama. Lessing advocated that dramaturgs should carry their work out working directly with theatre companies rather than in isolation.
Lessing outlined the concept of the religious "Proof of Power": How can miracles continue to be used as a base for Christianity when we have no proof of miracles? As Lessing says it: "That, then, is the ugly great ditch which I cannot cross, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make that leap. He did much of his studying by reading manuscripts he found while working as a librarian. While working for the Duke, he formed a close friendship with a family by the name of Reimarus.
The family held an unpublished manuscript by Hermann Samuel Reimarus which attacked the historicity of Christian revelation. Despite discouragement from his brother Karl Gotthelf Lessing , he began publishing pieces of the manuscript in pamphlets known as Fragments from an Unnamed Author. The controversial pamphlets resulted in a heated debate between him and another theologian, Johann Melchior Goeze. In concern for tarnishing his reputation, Goeze requested the government put an end to the feud, and Lessing was silenced through a law that took away his freedom from censorship.
In the play, Lessing set up tension between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity by having one character ask Nathan which religion was the most genuine. Nathan avoids the question by telling the parable of the three rings, which implies the idea that no specific religion is the "correct religion.
Nathan the Wise is considered to be the first example of the German "literature of humanity". As a child of the Enlightenment he trusted in a "Christianity of Reason", which oriented itself by the spirit of religion.
He believed that human reason initiated by criticism and dissent would develop, even without help by a divine revelation. In his writing The Education of Humankind Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts he extensively and coherently lays out his position.
Therefore, he also stood up for the liberation of the upcoming middle and upper class from the nobility making up their minds for them. In his own literary existence he also constantly strove for independence. But his ideal of a possible life as a free author was hard to keep up against the economic constraints he faced. His project of authors self-publishing their works, which he tried to accomplish in Hamburg with C. Bode , failed. In other words, he objected to trying to write poetry using the same devices as one would in painting.
Instead, poetry and painting each has its character the former is extended in time; the latter is extended in space.
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