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Lessing, Goethe, Kleist, and the Transformation of Gender

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Eleanor E. ter Horst

The presence of such gender-ambiguous figures as hermaphrodites and Amazons in works by Lessing, Goethe, and Kleist continues to challenge perceptions of the Enlightenment and Classical periods of German literature. This book explores the conflicting definitions of masculinity and femininity in works by these authors from the perspective of current research in feminist and gender studies, and links varying representations of gender to aesthetic issues, such as the texts’ relationship to the literature of antiquity and distinctions between drama and narrative . Lessing, Goethe, Kleist, and the Transformation of Gender also explores the literature’s connections to extra-literary (medical and economic) discourses, while establishing that issues of gender are central to the aesthetic and practice of Lessing, Goethe, and Kleist.