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Catalyst of Enlightenment: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Productive Criticism of Eighteenth-Century Germany

Prof. E.M. Batley

Lessing's work, in a lifetime increasingly dedicated to advancing the German Enlightenment, is presented against the background of social and cultural division, political fragmentation, controversy, anti-semitism, religious intolerance and intermittent war. A system of priorities is shown to underpin his various activities. Concern for mankind and for the right to speak and think freely characterizes his work as practical man of the theatre and dramatist, literary critic and polemicist, productive thinker, defender of the defenceless, publicist of contentious religious issues and relentless seeker of truth.
Contents: Lessing's life and work - plays, acting, dramaturgy and theatre - criticism and controversy (literature, visual arts, translating, fable, freemasonry, government, society, religion) anti-semitism, reason, faith, the Bible, religious toleration and perfectibility.