The Hamburg Dramaturgy by G.E. Lessing : A New and Complete Annotated English Translation book cover
1st Edition

The Hamburg Dramaturgy by G.E. Lessing
A New and Complete Annotated English Translation

Edited By

Natalya Baldyga

ISBN 9780415662451
Published October 31, 2018 by Routledge
468 Pages

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Book Description

While eighteenth-century playwright and critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing made numerous contributions in his lifetime to the theater, the text that best documents his dynamic and shifting views on dramatic theory is also that which continues to resonate with later generations – the Hamburg Dramaturgy (Hamburgische Dramaturgie, 1767–69). This collection of 104 short essays represents one of the eighteenth century’s most important critical engagements with the theater and its potential to promote humanistic discourse. Lessing’s essays are an immensely erudite, deeply engaged, witty, ironic, and occasionally scathing investigation of European theatrical culture, bolstered by deep analysis of Aristotelian dramatic theory and utopian visions of theater as a vehicle for human connection.

This is the first complete English translation of Lessing's text, with extensive annotations that place the work in its historical context. For the first time, English-language readers can trace primary source references and link Lessing’s observations on drama, theory, and performance not only to the plays he discusses, but also to dramatic criticism and acting theory. This volume also includes three introductory essays that situate Lessing’s work both within his historical time period and in terms of his influence on Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment theater and criticism.

The newly translated Hamburg Dramaturgy will speak to dramaturgs, directors, and humanities scholars who see theater not only for entertainment, but also for philosophical and political debate.

Table of Contents



List of Contributors

A Note on the Original Author

Missions, Misunderstandings, and Mythologies: The Relationship between the Hamburg Dramaturgy and the Hamburg National Theater by Natalya Baldyga

"We have actors, but no art of acting": Performance Theory and Theatrical Emotion in the Hamburg Dramaturgy by Natalya Baldyga

The Legacy of the Hamburg Dramaturgy by Michael M. Chemers

Note on the Translation by Wendy Arons and Sara Figal

The Hamburg Dramaturgy by G. E. Lessing

Volume I


Essay 1

Essay 2

Essay 3

Essay 4

Essay 5

Essay 6

Essay 7

Essay 8

Essay 9

Essay 10

Essay 11

Essay 12

Essay 13

Essay 14

Essay 15

Essay 16

Essay 17

Essay 18

Essay 19

Essay 20

Essay 21

Essay 22

Essay 23

Essay 24

Essay 25

Essay 26

Essay 27

Essay 28

Essay 29

Essay 30

Essay 31

Essay 32

Essay 33

Essay 34

Essay 35

Essay 36

Essay 37

Essay 38

Essay 39

Essay 40

Essay 41

Essay 42

Essay 43

Essay 44

Essay 45

Essay 46

Essay 47

Essay 48

Essay 49

Essay 50

Essay 51

Essay 52

Volume II

Essay 53

Essay 54

Essay 55

Essay 56

Essay 57

Essay 57

Essay 58

Essay 59

Essay 60

Essay 61

Essay 62

Essay 63

Essay 64

Essay 65

Essay 66

Essay 67

Essay 68

Essay 69

Essay 70

Essay 71

Essay 72

Essay 73

Essay 74

Essay 75

Essay 76

Essay 77

Essay 78

Essay 79

Essay 80

Essay 81

Essay 82

Essay 83

Essay 84

Essay 85

Essay 86

Essays 87 and 88

Essay 89

Essay 90

Essay 91

Essay 92

Essay 93

Essay 94

Essay 95

Essay 96

Essay 97

Essay 98

Essay 99

Essay 100

Essays 101, 102, 103, and 104


Notes to essays 1–104

Notes to the Paralipomena

Works Cited

Subject index

Name index

Title index

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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–81) was a playwright, critic, and philosopher of the German Enlightenment. His plays include Miss Sara Sampson, Minna von Barnhelm, Emilia Galotti, and Nathan the Wise. In addition to the Hamburg Dramaturgy, Lessing is known for his masterpiece of aesthetic theory, Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry.

Wendy Arons is professor of drama at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Performance and Femininity in Eighteenth-Century German Women's Writing: The Impossible Act (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and co-editor, with Theresa J. May, of Readings in Performance and Ecology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Sara Figal’s research centers on eighteenth-century German literature and history. She is the author of Heredity, Race, and the Birth of the Modern (Routledge, 2011 and 2008) and co-editor, with Mark Larrimore, of The German Invention of Race (SUNY Press, 2007 and 2006).

Natalya Baldyga’s research focuses on theater historiography, cultural identity, and the performing body in eighteenth-century Europe. Her published essays include "Sensate Cognition and Properly Feeling Bodies: G. E. Lessing, Acting Theory, and Emotional Regulation in Eighteenth-Century Germany" (Theatre Survey, 2017).