Nathan the Wise

ISBN-10: 0312442432
ISBN-13: 9780312442439
Edition: 2004
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Description: One of the most frequently performed and widely read comedies of the eighteenth century, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing'sNathan the Wise(1779) combines rich characterization with an engaging plot. Set in Muslim-ruled Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades,  More...

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Book details

List price: $20.99
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: Bedford/Saint Martin's
Publication date: 11/1/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 171
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.440
Language: English

One of the most frequently performed and widely read comedies of the eighteenth century, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing'sNathan the Wise(1779) combines rich characterization with an engaging plot. Set in Muslim-ruled Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades, it deals with universal themes -- including the nature of God, antisemitism, wealth and poverty, and the conflict between love and duty. Today the play is as timely as ever. This edition, the first English version expressly intended for undergraduates, contains an insightful introduction that discusses the play, Lessing and the Enlightenment, and the situation of Jews in eighteenth-century Europe. Additionally, there are five related historical documents -- each with a context-setting headnote -- illustrations, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography.

Lessing, one of the outstanding literary critics of all time, was "the first figure of European stature in modern German literature." The son of a Protestant pastor, he was educated in Meissen and at Leipzig University, then went to Berlin as a journalist in 1749. While employed as secretary to General Tauentzien (1760--65), he devoted his leisure to classical studies. This led to his critical essay Laocoon (1776), in which he attempted to clarify certain laws of aesthetic perception by comparing poetry and the visual arts. He fought always for truth and combined a penetrating intellect with shrewd common sense. He furthered the German theater through his weekly dramatic notes and theories, found mainly in the Hamburg Dramaturgy (1769), which he wrote during his connection with the Hamburg National Theater as critic and dramatist (1768--69). His plays include Miss Sara Sampson (1755), important as the first German prose tragedy of middle-class life; Minna von Barnhelm (1767), his finest comedy and the best of the era; and his noble plea for religious tolerance, Nathan the Wise (1779).

Foreword
Preface
A Note about the Text and Translation
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Beyond Tolerance — Lessing, Nathan the Wise, and the Legacy of the Enlightenmen

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