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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

( Writer)

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Biography Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
photo Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
(1729-1781)
'Give me any skilful animal, which I was unable to emulate' - boasted a monkey in front of the fox. To which she replied: 'And you just give me an animal, who would have thought you imitate'. So reads one of the fables Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, which concludes with a brief but suggestive question addressed to the German writers: 'Do I need to be expressed more clearly? "

. Lessing is the most touched a raw nerve in the contemporary German literature
. One of the most influential writers of Germany in the first half of XVIII century Gotshed believed that literature should follow the examples of French classicism XVII century. In one of his first theoretical works 'Letters on the most recent literature' Lessing sharply opposed Gotsheda, . accusing him of being, . he is trying to 'Frenchified' German literature instead, . to fight for its national identity and its own path of development,
. Fable 'The Fox and the Monkey' and became a popular explanation of the aesthetic position of the author. Outstanding art theorist, defends the aesthetic principles of the European Enlightenment, Lessing demands that German writers have taken an active stance, saying the idea of reason and justice. By remarkable documents aesthetic thought of this era is 'Hamburg dramaturgy' (1767-1769) - a collection of 104 reviews of the performances of the Hamburg Theater. 'The theater should be a school of morals, - wrote Lessing - teach us that we should do and what not to do'.

Evil and cleverly parses it, one after another French classical tragedy, refusing to recognize the great writers of their authors: 'Corneille should be called a giant, gigantic, but not great. There can be great is that unfair to '. Experiences of kings and princesses on the stage of alien people, a 'refined bombast, prim it is incompatible with feeling'.

Rule Three Ones is a mockery Lessing. Commended for his mastery of Shakespeare gets realistic

. Lessing draws heavily on the credibility of Diderot, and even carries his two dramas 'father of the family' and 'illegitimate son', . became an outstanding achievement of the French Theater, . because after the classic tragedies, with their ancient and oriental themes of the writer turned to everyday life, . to the image of the family and life,
. In this genre of 'philistine' drama Lessing creates his first play 'Miss Sara Sampson' (1755) and "Minna von Barnhelm '(1767). Especially important second of them, which shows the love saksonki Minna and Prussian officer Telheetma. Here we must recall that in the XVIII century, Germany was not united power, and consisted of three hundred principalities, the Electorate, duchies, and free cities. The whole conglomerate of large and small states was called magnificently Germanic Holy Roman Empire of the nation, about which Voltaire joked that she was neither Roman nor sacred. Between the neighboring lands are often armed conflicts flared up, so in the Seven Years War Saxony and Prussia were opposed. Images of the heroes of the two recently warring states meant the Germans call for unity.

By direct criticism of the social system of Germany, he came later in his most outstanding drama 'Emilia Galotti' (1772).

The action here is typical for Germany, a small principality, which for censorship reasons, presented as an Italian principality Guastala. Prince likes Emilia Galotti - the daughter of an officer, simple modest girl, who should become the wife of Count Appiani. Prince does not want to accept it, he ordered his chamberlain Marinelli in whatever was to prevent marriage. Prince least like a cruel tyrant. He commits crime thoughtlessly thoughtlessly going to have something that shows Marinelli, 'bastard without character and mind' (according to Goethe). 'Would you approve everything that I do? " - Asked the chamberlain, and the Prince immediately willing.

Prince said to himself: 'I mining waves'. Capricious and carefree, he lives another fad, another fad. Matters of national importance, he decides, in passing, without showing interest in it, insensible to the complaints, petitions, the needs of subjects. Impatiently he turned to his advisor:

- What else? Is there anything to sign?
- It is necessary to sign a death sentence.
- Very happy!.. Let's here! Hurry! ..
- But it is a death sentence ... - Amazement repeats Advisor.
- Excellent hearing. I would have had him sign. I'm in a hurry!

Chamberlain planted killers attack graph Appiani and kill him when he rides with Emily country villa near Prince. Everything is arranged so that the prince could 'save' Emilia and she was in his house.

Migrated deep shock, which threatens to shame - all this makes the search for the girl's death. She asks about his father, and Odoardo kills his own daughter. Lowering her body in front of bewildered prince, he is accused in the death of his daughter and threatens it with the tribunal of God, surrendering himself into the hands of captors.

Unusual finale, when the victim is punished, not the killer, has caused confusion and controversy contemporaries. But Lessing's idea was to portray the German Virginia. Viewers, who have studied in detail while Roman history, perfectly understood the hint of the author. It kills Emilia's father, after she reminds him of a famous episode in the history. In ancient Rome, one of the patrician Appius Claudius declared daughter plebeian Virginia unfree, that prompted the people to revolt which overthrew the power of tyrants.

Each drama Lessing was awarded the search for new artistic forms. His latest drama, 'Nathan the Wise' (1779) the author described a dramatic poem. But if you use the terminology of our time, it is rather drama-parable. Interestingly, the central episode of the product - a parable, which tells the Jew Nathan Muslim sultan Saladin. One man owned a wonderful ring, which was inherited. But this man had three sons and he did not know any of them prefer. Then he ordered two more rings. After his death, a dispute arose, who have the same ring now. And then the brothers went to the judge who decided this way: let everyone be committed to God, the merciful, gentle, and then the descendants will come to see who the real ring.

. This parable Nathan told in response to Saladin's the provocative question: whose faith is true - Muslim, Jewish or Christian
. And as if to confirm this instructive history of Nathan reveals the mystery of the birth of two young people: it turns out that the Christian Knights Templar and the adopted daughter of Nathan Fe-ha - a brother and sister, the closest relatives of Saladin.

. Germany was still alive the memory of the wars between Catholic and Protestant lands
. And in the XVIII century in the German cities still existed Jewish ghetto. Drama Lessing sounded like a call to abandon all religious and national hostility and hatred. Bright artistic embodiment of Enlightenment humanism, this drama was banned under fascism, and was one of the first that appeared on the German stage after the defeat of Hitler's regime. According to literary critic, our compatriot VR Grib, 'meaning do not play in the fine, but as presented by Lessing's own thoughts, expressed through the mouth of Nathan'. 'The summary is that intellectual artistic - continues the researcher - which is one of the most attractive advantages of educational literature'.

An outstanding monument of XVIII century was the aesthetics treatise Lessing 'Laocoon, or On the limits of painting and poetry' (1766). Although the topic in the headline of the book, sounds a bit academic, the debate, which is here Lessing, has attracted considerable interest, because the author reflected on the urgent tasks of contemporary literature.

It will be recalled that two years before this book was published by Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) 'The history of antiquity'. This was in love with the ancient art enthusiast, took the first experience of organizing monuments of ancient sculpture. According to Winckelmann, the main feature of ancient art was 'noble simplicity and calm grandeur'. In the ancient monuments he saw an unquestioned example of contemporary artists and to put one task - to know the antiquity, to penetrate its secrets. He concludes: 'The only way for us to become great and, if possible, even inimitable - it is to imitate the ancient'.

Work Winckelmann had a great influence on art, and literature. An ardent admirer and promoter of his ideas was Goethe, and we can say that the aesthetics of Weimar Classicism formed under the direct influence of Winckelmann.

But Lessing, recognizing the merits of the art historian, saw and weaknesses of his aesthetics, above all contemplation. 'Laocoon' and was written in a polemic with Winkelmann.

The question of the borders between poetry and painting was put Lessing in order to prove: poetry is not simply 'depicts' (as I thought Horace). It should portray the action and therefore can not be contemplative. Sculptor forced to allocate important in artistic images, for example, the beauty of Venus, the strength of Hercules. It captures just one of the most characteristic moment of. The poet also reveals human nature in all its complexity and diversity. In his power to show not only beautiful (to embody the ideal), but the ugly. It is in the literature is great potential for image 'ugly' sides of life, that is, for critics of our.

Lessing calls from literature of the dynamic play of reality. Aesthetic ideal, in his opinion, is linked not only with a positive, calm and triumphant perfection, and with the struggle, resistance, voltage power, a manifestation of an extraordinary commitment and energy. Exploring the boundaries between arts, Lessing chooses to analyze one of the perfect creatures of late antiquity - the statue of Laocoon. According to legend, the priest of Apollo, warned residents of Troy, which is dangerous to let the wooden horse into the city. For that and sent the goddess Athena helped Achaeans two monstrous serpent, who strangled Laocoon and his sons. This story provided sculptor maximum capacity in order to convey the motion of bodies and the suffering of heroes. Each figure - is one of the stages of man's struggle with the snake, so the viewer can imagine how one after the other heroes are dying.

Proceedings reflection Lessing answered here the main direction of educational aesthetics of the second half of XVIII century. That's why he has such a great and fruitful influence on the literature of the coming decades.

Almost a century of literary achievement Lessing acquired a new meaning and significance in the conditions of Russian reality, the middle of XIX century. This reminded his book on Lessing NGChernyshevsky (1857).

* * *

Lessing, the son of a humble pastor, lived a hard life. He was constantly harassed material deprivation. Thus, he long hesitated to marry a woman he loved, because he was not sure that it is able to provide. Man, . educated at Leipzig and Wittenberg University, . uncomfortable giving could lead the department in any large academic zaveddenii, . served as secretary of the Prussian general during the Seven Years War and was pleased, . when I got a place in the city librarian Wolfenbц+ttel,
. He finally married, but here he lay in wait for misfortune: less than a year his wife died.

But even greater difficulties doomed the spiritual atmosphere of what was then Germany. At times, he single-handedly fought with their ideological opponents. First of all - with church dogmatists. I must say that German universities are largely dependent on the church. Even the language of science subordinate to the medieval tradition. One of the earliest predecessors Lessing Tomasi had to spend a lot of force to achieve the consent of the university authorities to give lectures in German, not Latin (Lessing himself graduated from the Latin school).

If universities predominated in Latin, then in many yards the main language was French. Voltaire, who had been hosted by the Prussian King Frederick II, wrote home: 'There are in German only speak with footmen and horses'. Frederick II was considered an enlightened ruler: inviting prominent writers and composers, arranged musical evenings at which he played the flute. His only book he wrote in French and was very surprised when I learned that in Germany there are writers who write in German.

You can understand then, that Lessing had to hide many of their views. Only after his death became known that he was a follower of Spinoza, the philosopher-materialist, whose books were banned in many German states. Even close Lessing idealist philosopher M. Mendelson was extremely disheartened when I learned about those of his sympathizers.

And when his attempt to establish a national theater in Hamburg failed, Lessing sadly summed up: and had the same idea to create a German theater, where 'we Germans are not a nation'. But the dialectic of historical development was that the German writers, Lessing first, and then Goethe and Schiller, laid the foundations of national unity, although it is still a long


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