How to use Lessing in a sentence
In 1760, feeling the need of some change of scene and work, Lessing went to Breslau, where he obtained the post of secretary to General Tauentzien, to whom Kleist had introduced him in Leipzig.
His friends there exerted themselves to obtain for him the office of keeper of the royal library, but Frederick had not forgotten Lessing's quarrel with Voltaire, and declined to consider his claims. During the two years which Lessing now spent in the Prussian capital, he was restless and unhappy, yet it was during this period that he published two of his greatest works, Laokoon, oder fiber die Grenzen der Malerei and Poesie (1766) and Minna von Barnhelm (1767).
To him, therefore, Lessing addressed in 1778 his most elaborate answers - Eine Parabel, Axiomata, eleven letters with the title Anti-Goeze, and two pamphlets in reply to an inquiry by Goeze as to what Lessing meant by Christianity.
Lessing also maintains that history reveals a definite law of progress, and that occasional retrogression may be necessary for the advance of the world towards its ultimate goal.
Lessing, who as a youth of twenty came to Berlin in 1 749, composed enthusiastic odes in his honour, and Gleim, the Halberstadt poet, wrote of him as of a kind of demi-god.Advertisement
Kabale and Liebe, especially, is an admirable example of that "tragedy of common life" which Lessing had introduced into Germany from England and which bulked so largely in the German literature of the later 18th century.
Under the impulse given by Lessing and Kant he turned to the original records of Christianity, and attempted to construe for himself the real significance of Christ.
A conversation which he had held with Lessing in 1780, in which Lessing avowed that he knew no philosophy, in the true sense of that word, save Spinozism, led him to a protracted study of Spinoza's works.
From Leibnitz, Lessing, Fichte, Jacobi and the Romantic school he had imbibed a profound and mystical view of the inner depths of the human personality.
Lessing' in 1773, which purports to have been sent by Archimedes to the mathematicians at Alexandria in a letter to Eratosthenes.Advertisement
Just as the latter afterwards makes Nathan the Wise and Saladin meet over the chess-board, so did Lessing and Mendelssohn actually come together as lovers of the game.
Lessing was the great liberator of the German mind.
This notion was being generally ridiculed as untrue, when Lessing found in Mendelssohn the realization of his dream.
Mendelssohn owed his first introduction to the public to Lessing's admiration.
Without consulting the author, Lessing published anonymously Mendelssohn's Philosophical Conversations (Philosophische Gespreiche) in 1755.Advertisement
It was the joint work of Lessing and Mendelssohn.
This is the moral of Lessing's Nathan the Wise, the hero of which is undoubtedly Mendelssohn.
His Morgenstunden appeared in 1785, and he died as the result of a cold contracted while carrying to his publishers in 1786 the manuscript of a vindication of his friend Lessing, who had predeceased him by five years.
Mendelssohn became a warm friend of Lessing, the hero of whose drama Nathan the Wise was drawn from the Dessau Jew.Advertisement
The spirit of Nathan der Weise may not have been exactly the spirit engendered by the Crusades; and yet it is not without reason that Lessing stages the fable which teaches toleration in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem.
The convent was suppressed by Duke Maurice in 1543, and was by him converted into a school (the Fiirsten Schule), one of the most renowned classical schools in Germany, which counts Lessing and Gellert among its former pupils.
A few streets south of that is a monument to Lessing (1881); while occupying a commanding site on the promenades towards Altona is the gigantic statue of Bismarck which was unveiled in June 1906.
Under Schroder and Lessing the Hamburg stage rose into importance.
The historian Lappenberg and Friedrich von Hagedorn were born in Hamburg; and not only Lessing, but Heine and Klopstock lived there for some time.Advertisement
He got into a quite unnecessary quarrel with Lessing.
Taking up the idea of a divine education of the human race, which Lessing and Herder had made so familiar to the modern mind, and firmly believing that to each of the leading nations of antiquity a special task had been providentially assigned, Ewald felt no difficulty about Israel's place in universal history, or about the problem which that race had been called upon to solve.
Like his contemporary Lessing, Herder had throughout his life to struggle against adverse circumstances.
In the year 1767 he published his first considerable work Fragmente ilber die neuere deutsche Literatur, which at once made him widely known and secured for him the favourable interest of Lessing.
From this time he continued to pour forth a number of critical writings on literature, art, &c. His bold ideas on these subjects, which were a great advance even on Lessing's doctrines, naturally excited hostile criticism, and in consequence of this opposition, which took the form of aspersions on his religious orthodoxy, he resolved to leave Riga.Advertisement
Towards the close of his life he occupied himself, like Lessing, with speculative questions in philosophy and theology.
Like Lessing, whose work he immediately continued, he was a pioneer of the golden age of this literature.
Lessing was the exponent of German classicism; Herder, on the contrary, was a pioneer of the romantic movement.
He ridicules the ambition of German writers to be classic, as Lessing had ridiculed their eagerness to be French.
Lessing had done much to make Shakespeare known to Germany, but he had regarded him in contrast to the French dramatists with whom he also contrasted the Greek dramatic poets, and accordingly did not bring out his essentially modern and Teutonic character.Advertisement
Beyond this, he eloquently pleaded the cause of painting as a distinct art, which Lessing in his desire to mark off the formative arts from poetry and music had confounded with sculpture.
Herder's Spinozism, which is set forth in his little work, Vom Erkennen and Empfinden der menschlichen Seele (1778), is much less logically conceived than Lessing's.
The struggle between the two parties gave fresh life to the literature of the country but German criticism of the higher sort can only be said really to begin with Lessing.
Lessing was ducal librarian here, and the old library building, designed in 1723 in imitation of the Pantheon at Rome, contains a marble statue of him.
For the " Wolfenbuttel fragments " see Lessing and REIMAxus.Advertisement
Hermann Hettner says that not only Leibnitz, Voltaire and Diderot, but Lessing, Mendelssohn, Wieland and Herder, drew the most stimulating nutriment from Shaftesbury.
The hospital is dedicated to the memory of Lessing, who was born here.
At Schulpforta he had read with delight Lessing's Anti-Goeze, and during his Jena days had studied the relation between philosophy and religion.
Michaelis, he was compensated for this by the esteem of Frederick the Great, of Lessing, Karsten Niebuhr, and many foreign scholars.
Reiske died on the 14th of August 1774, and his MS. remains passed, through Lessing's mediation, to the Danish minister Suhm, and are now in the Copenhagen library.Advertisement
Between Luther and Lessing there was no great writer of German prose.
In literature, its leading names were Winckelmann, Lessing and Voss, and Herder, Goethe and Schiller.
Perhaps the most significant event from which to date the modern period is the publication by Lessing in 1774-1777 of the "Wolfenbiittel Fragments," i.e.
Goeze, and to which Lessing began an elaborate reply just before his death.
His father, Johann Gottfried Lessing, was a clergyman, and, a few years after his son's birth, became pastor primaries or chief pastor of Kamenz.Advertisement
Frau Neuber even accepted for performance Lessing's first comedy, Der junge Gelehrte (1748), which he had begun at school.
In 1748, however, the company broke up, and Lessing, who had allowed himself to become surety for some of the actors' debts, was obliged to leave Leipzig too, in order to escape their creditors.
In Berlin Lessing now spent three years, maintaining himself chiefly by literary work.
Lange; as a retort to that writer's overbearing criticism, Lessing exposed with scathing satire Lange's errors in his popular translation of Horace.
By 1753 Lessing felt that his position was sufficiently assured to allow of him issuing an edition of his collected writings (Schriften, 6 vols., 1753-1755).
The Schriften also contained Lessing's early plays, and one new one, Miss Sara Sampson (1755).
Hitherto Lessing had, as a dramatist, followed the methods of contemporary French comedy as cultivated in Leipzig; Miss Sara Sampson, however, marks the beginning of a new period in the history of the German drama.
Among Lessing's chief friends during his second residence in Berlin were the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), in association with whom he wrote in 1755 an admirable treatise, Pope ein Metaphysiker 1 tracing sharply the lines which separate the poet from the philosopher.
C. von Kleist (1715-1759), a Prussian officer, whose fine poem, Der Frzihling, had won for him Lessing's warm esteem.
In October 1755 Lessing settled in Leipzig with a view to devoting himself more exclusively to the drama.
A disagreement with his patron shortly after resulted in Lessing's sudden dismissal; he demanded compensation and, although in the end the court decided in his favour, it was not until the case had dragged on for about six years.
At this time Lessing began the study of medieval literature to which attention had been drawn by the Swiss critics, Bodmer and Breitinger, and wrote occasional criticisms for Nicolai's Bibliothek der schonen Wissenschaften.
In Leipzig Lessing had also an opportunity of developing his friendship with Kleist who happened to be stationed there.
In 1758 Kleist's regiment being ordered to new quarters, Lessing decided not to remain behind him and returned again to Berlin.
Lessing's third residence in Berlin was made memorable by the Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend (1759-1765), a series of critical essays - written in the form of letters to a wounded officer - on the principal books that had appeared since the beginning of the Seven Years' War.
In Lessing's share in this publication, his critical powers and methods are to be seen at their best.
The power of Minna von Barnhelm, Lessing's greatest drama, was also immediately recognized.
In 1767 Lessing settled in Hamburg, where he had been invited to take part in the establishment of a national theatre.
In despair, Lessing determined towards the end of his residence in Hamburg to quit Germany, believing that in Italy he might find congenial labour that would suffice for his wants.
The Hamburgische Dramaturgic (1767-1768), Lessing's commentary on the performances of the National Theatre, is the first modern handbook of the dramatist's art.
Another result of Lessing's labours in Hamburg was the Antiquarische Briefe (1768), a series of masterly letters in answer to Christian Adolf Klotz (1738-1771), a professor of the university of Halle, who, after flattering Lessing, had attacked him, and sought to establish a kind of intellectual despotism by means of critical journals which he directly or indirectly controlled.
In connexion with this controversy Lessing wrote his brilliant little treatise, Wie die Alten den Tod gebildet (1769), contrasting the medieval representation of death as a skeleton with the Greek conception of death as the twin-brother of sleep.
Lessing's theory of the origin of the epigram is somewhat fanciful, but no other critic has offered so many pregnant hints as to the laws of epigrammatic verse, or defended with so much force and ingenuity the character of Martial.
Having completed Emilia Galotti, which the younger generation of playwrights at once accepted as a model, Lessing occupied himself for some years almost exclusively with the treasures of the Wolfenbiittel library.
The last period of Lessing's life was devoted chiefly to theo logical controversy.
The manuscript of this work was, after the author's death, entrusted by his daughter to Lessing, who published extracts from it in his Zur Geschichte and Literatur in 1774-1778.
They created profound excitement among orthodox theologians, and evoked many replies, in which Lessing was bitterly condemned for having published writings of so dangerous a tendency.
These papers are not only full of thought and learning; they are written with a grace, vivacity and energy that make them hardly less interesting to-day than they were to Lessing's contemporaries.
The play, which is written in blank verse, is too obviously a continuation of Lessing's theological controversy to rank high as poetry, but the representatives of the three religions - the Mahommedan Saladin, the Jew Nathan and the Christian Knight Templar - are finely conceived, and show that Lessing's dramatic instinct had, in spite of other interests, not deserted him.
This work, composed a hundred brief paragraphs, was the last, and is one of the most suggestive of Lessing's writings.
These ideas formed a striking contrast to the principles both of orthodox and of sceptical writers in Lessing's day, and gave a wholly new direction to religious philosophy.
Another work of Lessing's last years, Ernst and Falk (a series of five dialogues, of which the first three were published in 1777, the last two in 1780), also set forth many new points of view.
Lessing's theological opinions exposed him to much petty persecution, and he was in almost constant straits for money.
He was succeeded by poets and philosophers who gave Germany for a time the first place in the intellectual life of the world, and it was Lessing, as they themselves acknowledged, who prepared the way for their achievements.
Muncker (21 vols., 1886 ff.), the last mentioned being the standard edition of Lessing's works.
Even before the Seven Years War there were signs that the German people were beginning to tire of incessant imitation of France, for in literature they welcomed the early efforts of Klopstock, Wieland and Lessing; but the movement received a powerful impulse from the great deeds of Frederick.
Before he died a tide of intellectual life was rising all about him; yet he failed to recognize it, declined to give Lessing even the small post of royal librarian, and thought Gotz von Berlichingen a vulgar imitation of vulgar English models.
In adopting verse instead of prose as a medium of expression, Schiller showed that he was prepared to challenge comparison with the great dramatic poets of other times and other lands; but in seeking a model for this higher type of tragedy he unfortunately turned rather to the classic theatre of France than to the English drama which Lessing, a little earlier, had pronounced more congenial to the German temperament.
He had seven children, only three of whom survived him - the distinguished physician Johann Albrecht Heinrich, and two daughters, one of them being Elise, Lessing's friend and correspondent.
See the "Fragments" as published by Lessing, reprinted in vol.
Both his collegiate and editorial duties stimulated his critical powers, and the publication in the two magazines, followed by republication in book form, of a series of studies of great authors, gave him an important place as a critic. Shakespeare, Dryden, Lessing, Rousseau, Dante, Spenser, Wordsworth, Milton, Keats, Carlyle, Thoreau, Swinburne, Chaucer, Emerson, Pope, Gray - these are the principal subjects of his prose, and the range of topics indicates the catholicity of his taste.
Hume's casual allusion to "this famous atheist" and his "hideous hypothesis" is a fair specimen of the tone in which he is usually referred to; people talked about Spinoza, Lessing said, "as if he were a dead dog."
The change of opinion in this respect may be dated from Lessing's famous conversation with Jacobi in 1780.
Lessing, Goethe, Herder, Novalis and Schleiermacher, not to mention philosophers like Schelling and Hegel, united in recognizing the unique strength and sincerity of Spinoza's thought, and in setting him in his rightful place among the speculative leaders of mankind.
Coleridge was in England the creator of that higher criticism which had already in Germany accomplished so much in the hands of Lessing and Goethe.
Shortly afterwards he went to Germany, where he began to study Kant, and was much captivated by Lessing.
In other directions he laid under tribute Herder and Lessing; yet all the while he cast severe imputations of plagiarism upon Hume and others.
His other works include Lessing als Theologe (1854) and Grundriss der christl.
When Shaftesbury wrote that "religion is still a discipline, and progress of the soul towards perfection," he gave birth to the same thought that was afterwards hailed in Lessing's Erziehung des Menschengeschlechtes as the dawn of a fuller and a purer light on the history of religion and on the development of the spiritual life of mankind.
It has, in addition to those above enumerated, statues of Queen Louisa, Goethe and Lessing.
In addition to the old-established Opernhaus and Schauspielhaus, which are supported by the state, numerous private playhouses have been erected, notably the Lessing and the Deutsches theatres, and it is in these that the modern works by Wildenbruch, Sudermann, and Hauptmann have been produced, and it may be said that it is in Berlin that the modern school of German drama has its home.
Lessing's conception of history as an "education of the human race" is a typical example of this interpretation of the facts, and was indeed the precursor which stimulated many more elaborate German theories.
On their style, see C. Paucker, De Latinitate Scriptorum Historiae Augustae (1870); special lexicon by C. Lessing (1901-1906).
Lessing, 18 ft.
The young Lessing produced his first play in the Leipzig theatre, and the university counts Goethe, Klopstock, Jean Paul Richter, Fichte and Schelling among its alumni.
Lessing, on the other hand, maintained the view that the marble group illustrated the version of the legend given by Virgil, with such differences as were necessary from the different limits of representation imposed on the arts of sculpture and of poetry.
We may define these courses by the terms esoteric and exoteric - the former the philosophy of the school, cultivated principally at the universities, trying to systematize everything and reduce all our knowledge to an intelligible principle, losing in this attempt the deeper meaning of Leibnitz's philosophy; the latter the unsystematized philosophy of general culture which we find in the work of the great writers of the classical period, Lessing, Winkelmann, Goethe, Schiller and Herder, all of whom expressed in some degree their indebtedness to Leibnitz.
Gumperz or Hess rendered a conspicuous service to Mendelssohn and to the cause of enlightenment in 1754 by introducing him to Lessing.
The former had written in lucid German an attack on the national neglect of native philosophers (principally Leibnitz), and lent the manuscript to Lessing.
He shared this with Lessing; in this case, at all events, it is probable that the latter was indebted to Mendelssohn.
The modern monistic doctrine, that all material things consist of sentient elements, and that consciousness arises through a combination of these, was a natural transformation of Leibnitz's theory.2 Lessing.
Lessing had given the first impetus to the formation of a national literature by exposing the folly of the current imitation of French writers.
The views on art contained in Herder's Kritische Wader (1769), Plastik (1778), &c., are chiefly valuable as a correction of the excesses into which reverence for Greek art had betrayed Winckelmann and Lessing, by help of his fundamental idea of national idiosyncrasy.
The list of his works includes hymns and national songs - among others, the famous Chant du depart; odes, Sur la mort de Mirabeau, Sur l'oligarchie de Robespierre, &c.; tragedies which never reached the stage, Brutus et Cassius, Philippe deux, Tibere; translations from Sophocles and Lessing, from Gray and Horace, from Tacitus and Aristotle; with elegies, dithyrambics and Ossianic rhapsodies.
During the four years which Lessing spent in Breslau, he associated chiefly with Prussian officers, went much into society, and developed a dangerous fondness for the gaming table.
The Brunswick government having, in deference to the con sistory, confiscated the Fragments and ordered Lessing to discontinue the controversy, he resolved, as he wrote to Elise Reimarus, to try "whether they would let him preach undisturbed from his old pulpit, the stage."
But he is best known by his Apologie oder Schutzschrift fiir die verniinftigen Verehrer Gottes (carefully kept back during his lifetime), from which, after his death, Lessing published certain chapters under the title of the Wolfenbiittel Fragments (see Lessing).
The great series of German thinkers, Lessing, Herder, Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schleiermacher and their 1 This does not, of course, preclude the possibility of degeneration in particular instances.
In his works on aesthetics he combined the views of Schelling with those of Winckelmann, Lessing, Kant,, Herder, Schiller and others.
Lessing set about the translation and annotation of it, and Moses Mendelssohn borrowed from Burke's speculation at least one of the most fruitful and important ideas of his own influential theories on the sentiments.
Instead of settling in Italy, as he intended, Lessing accepted in 1770 the office of librarian at Wolfenbiittel, a post which was offered to him by the hereditary prince of Brunswick.