Radicalism in Lessing’s Domestic Drama (Miss Sara Sampson, Minna von Barnhelm, and Emilia Galotti)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The following essay seeks to identify radical figures of thought in Lessing’s three domestic dramas Miss Sara Sampson (1755), Minna von Barnhelm (1763/1767), and Emilia Galotti (1772). In order to accomplish this, the essay contrasts Lessing’s works with those of the Englishman Samuel Richardson, representing a rather moderate model of Enlightenment, and the Radical Enlightenment thinker Denis Diderot, with whose dramas and essays Lessing engaged extensively through translations and his own essayistic texts. Instead of reading Lessing’s domestic dramas as a straightforward defense of the Radical Enlightenment, this essay seeks to show how the conflict between Counter-Enlightenment, Moderate, and Radical Enlightenment is expressed in these texts. The essay’s goal is an open interpretation of Lessing’s texts that shows the conflicts and dilemmas that are at the root of their plots.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Radical Enlightenment in Germany
Subtitle of host publicationA Cultural Perspective
EditorsCarl Niekerk
ISBN (Electronic)9789004362215
StatePublished - Jul 12 2018

Publication series

NameInternationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft


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