¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [11.1] Lessing continues his discussion, from , of Ninus’s ghost in Sémiramis and Voltaire’s defense of this choice in the “Dissertation sur la tragédie ancienne et modern” [“Dissertation on Ancient and Modern Tragedy”] (1748). With Sémiramis, Voltaire challenged both the traditional rules of classical tragedy and new attitudes of the Enlightenment. See Niklaus, “Introduction,” 39–137.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 [11.3] Since the classical era, dramatic theorists have debated to what extent a playwright is bound to historical accuracy. In 1759, in his periodical Briefe, die neueste Litteratur betreffend, Lessing described the playwright as a “lord over history” (Letter 63, dated 18 Oct., Werke und Briefe 4: 647–49); he maintains this view in the Hamburg Dramaturgy, repeatedly dismissing the need for historical accuracy. In , he claims Aristotle’s Poetics as his authority, citing chapter nine, in which Aristotle draws a distinction between historian and poet.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [11.4] Early in his career, in the Briefwechsel über das Trauerspiel [Correspondence on Tragedy] (1755–57), Lessing had argued that illusion was not necessary for dramatic effect (“Letter to Mendelssohn,” dated 18 Dec. 1756, Werke und Briefe 3: 693–703). By the time of this writing, however, Lessing has developed a theory of illusionistic theater that stresses an “internal probability” (innere Wahrscheinlichkeit), in which the spectator’s affective response is more important than a strict representation of reality.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [11.6] In fact, Voltaire intended for the ghost to appear in profound darkness, with dramatic lighting and sound effects; this staging was not always realized (see Niklaus, 44). French productions of the play would have been much more lavish than those of the Hamburg National Theater.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [11.7] Again, Lessing’s view of what constitutes an illusionistic performance differs from a contemporary understanding of realism. Ensemble performance developed with the rise of the modern stage director, considerably after Lessing’s time. Goethe experimented with ensemble work and stage tableaux at the Weimar court theater (1791–1817), but it was not until the nineteenth century that the Meiningen Company (1866–90) would revolutionize theatrical staging through their ensemble approach and famous crowd scenes (featuring individualized blocking, gestures, and lines).
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [11.8] Elsewhere Lessing will argue against an infectious model of stage emotion, proposing instead a relationship of “sympathetic resonance” between actor and spectator. See for example his “Letter to Mendelssohn,” dated 2 Feb. 1757, in the Briefwechsel über das Trauerspiele (Werke und Briefe 3: 711–15).
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [12.5] Tr. note: “punishment of good and evil” is a faithful translation of Lessing’s “Bestrafung des Guten und Bösen.” We would assume that Lessing intended his reader to interpret this phrase as “judgment of good and evil.” As with many of his contemporaries, Lessing’s metaphysical beliefs are grounded in the philosophical optimism of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and Christian Wolff (1679–1754).
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [12.6] The Hamburg National Theater was in fact rather small; see Robertson for a description of the theater and its dimensions (14–15). The first French productions of Sémiramis presented neither the four scene changes – nor the multitude of onstage characters and extras (a total of forty-eight) – called for by Voltaire. See Niklaus 42–44, 47.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [12.8] Lessing refers to Des Herrn Nericault Destouches sämtliche theatralische Werke (1756). Le Philosophe Marié was translated under a number of German titles; this particular translation (in alexandrines), Der verheyrathete Philosoph, appears to have beenby Johann Christian Krüger (1722–50), in collaboration with Konrad Ekhof (see Devrient, Johann Friedrich Schönemann, 145).
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 [12.9] Voltaire, Le Caffé, ou L’ecossaise (1760). The translation used was that of Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1731–93), Das Caffeehaus, ein rührundes Lustspiel (The Coffeehouse, a moving comedy) (1760), later published as Das Caffeehaus, oder die Schottländerinn (1765). For an English translation see Francklin. Voltaire’s play is set in a London inn, run by the landlord Fabrice. Its inhabitants are Lord Monrose, a Scottish nobleman condemned to death; an impoverished young lady, Lindane; and a scheming journalist, Frélon, who hopes to profit from the others’ misfortunes. Lindane is revealed as the daughter of Monrose, but is in love with Lord Murray, whose family ruined hers. Murray’s erstwhile mistress, Lady Alton, seeks revenge against Murray by having Lindane charged with treason. Thanks to the intervention of Freeport, a London merchant, Lindane is saved and reunited with her father. Murray obtains a pardon for Monrose and is allowed to marry Lindane.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [12.10] Voltaire speciously presented L’Ecossaise as a translation of a play by “Monsieur Hume,” meaning to cite Scottish playwright John Home (1722–1808), author of the controversial tragedy Douglas (1757). A defense of Douglas by the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711–76) was prefaced to printed editions of Home’s play. See Duckworth, “Introduction to L’Écossaise,” 243–44.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [12.12] Voltaire created Frélon (or Wasp, in some editions) to retaliate against critic Élie Catherine Fréron (1719–76), who attacked Voltaire and other members of the French Enlightenment in his periodical L’Année littéraire and other writings. See Duckworth 225–32.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 [12.14] George Colman (the Elder) (1732–94). Le Caffé, ou L’ecossaise was originally translated as The Coffee-House, or The Fair Fugitive in 1760; Colman’s adaptation, The English Merchant, was first performed and published in 1767. Lessing’s critique of English conditions and characters in Voltaire’s play, and his praise of Colman’s alterations, are drawn almost verbatim from English criticism in The Monthly Review. See G. H., “The English Merchant, A Comedy,” 224–5.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 [12.16] An error: Murray obtains Monrose’s pardon in L’ecossaise. In The English Merchant, Colman replaces Murray with a reformed rake (Lord Falbridge); he renames the father Sir William Douglas and the daughter Amelia.
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 [12.17] The English Merchant was more sentimental than Colman’s most popular comedies, The Jealous Wife (1761) and The Clandestine Marriage (1766) (a collaboration with David Garrick). Konrad Ernst Ackermann (1712–71), an important German actor-manager, constructed a new theater in Hamburg in 1765; this theater was taken over by Johann Friedrich Löwen in order to form the Hamburg National Theater. Ackermann’s company performedBode’s translation of The Jealous Wife in 1765.
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 [12.19] In multiple essays of the Hamburg Dramaturgy Lessing discusses the English taste for action-packed plays and what he perceives as a German aversion to excessively complex plots.
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 [13.1] Cénie (1752): by French playwright, novelist, andsalonnièreFrançoise de Grafigny (1695–1758), translated by L. A. Gottsched in 1753. For The New Agnes, see . Die Gouvernante [The Governess] (c. 1763): a one-act comic operetta, possibly written by the Viennese harlequin Franz Anton Nuth (1698?–1788) (see Schmid, Chronologie des deutschen Theaters,221). The “epidemic emergency,” according to Robertson, was influenza (64).
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [13.3] L. A. Gottsched’s translation, Der poetische Dorfjunker (1741), included in volume 3 of J. C. Gottsched’s Die Deutsche Schaubühne (1740-50). Over the course of his career, Lessing grew increasingly hostile towards the work of J. C. Gottsched (recently deceased in 1766). See Letter 17 (dated 16 Feb., 1759) of the Litteraturbriefe (Werke und Briefe 4: 499-501).
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 [13.5] Tr. note: The term Lessing uses here, Virtuosin, is a translation of the French term une virtuose, which, in the original, later is made synonymous with a savante, or “learned woman.” Destouches makes comic use of the word’s double connotation (virtuous/ worldly). Henriette: the titular hypocrite in Gottsched’s translation, Angélique in the original.
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 [13.6] Tr. note: Gottsched’s substitution in German is Wunder, which translates as marvel, wonder, miracle, or prodigy. The choice of “wonder” here allows for retention of Lessing’s play on words in the next sentence.
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [13.7] Agnes: an appellation for an innocent young girl; the character type became associated with Molière’s ingénue Agnès in L’école des femmes [School for Wives] (1662). See .
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [13.8] J. E. Schlegel, Die stumme Schönheit (1747), a one-act comedy in alexandrines. See Lefevere for an English translation. In Schlegel’s play, Leonore, the daughter of a rich landowner, was given as an infant to the care of Mrs. Lovetotalk, a middle-class widow with a daughter of her own, Charlotte. Mrs. Lovetotalk switches the two girls, in the hopes that Charlotte (the dumb beauty) will secure a wealthy husband.
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 [13.9] Schlegel’s “Schreiben über die Komödie in Versen” [“Writings on Comedy in Verse”](1740) defends the use of verse in comedy, a choice that runs counter to the “rank clause” (Ständeklausel), promoted by those such as J. C. Gottsched, which upheld dictates of French neoclassicism (associating verse with tragedy and characters drawn from the nobility).
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 [13.10] Tr. note: in German, as in English, quadrille can refer both to a type of square dance and to a card game (specifically, a four-person version of ombre popular in the eighteenth century).
¶ 45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 [13.12] Written by Lessing, Miss Sara Sampson (1755) is considered the first German bourgeois tragedy (bürgerliche Trauerspiel). See Werke und Briefe 3: 431-526. The eponymous Sara was a highly coveted role and one for which Hensel was especially known.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 [13.13] Here Lessing apparently draws on his earlier medical studies. Shortly after the performance of Miss Sara Sampson (6 May 1767), Lessing asked his brother to forward a medical treatise from his library entitled “Von dem Zupfen der Sterbenden” [“On the Spasms of the Dying”] (see “Letter to Karl Lessing,” dated 22 May 1767, Werke und Briefe 11/1: 467).
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 [13.14] Principal actress Karoline Schulze (later Schulze-Kummerfeld) (1745–1815) claims in her memoirs that Hensel stole this bit of business from her. Both actresses shared the same repertoire, including the role of Sara, and Hensel eventually succeeded in forcing Schulze to leave Hamburg.
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 [14.2] It was previously believed that the “French critic” was Denis Diderot (1753–84), as Lessing’s later mention suggests. Both authors defended emerging middle class modes of drama, and Lessing’s dramatic theory is indebted to Diderot, whose work he translated as Das Theater des Herrn Diderot [The Theater of M. Diderot] (1760) (See Werke und Briefe 5/1: 10–230). Diderot intended to include a commissioned translation of Sara in an (unrealized) anthology of bourgeois tragedies (see Heitner, “Diderot’s Own Miss Sara Sampson” 40–1).
¶ 52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 [14.4] Jean-François Marmontel (1723–99): French playwright, novelist, and critic. Lessing translates from Marmontel’s discussion of popular versus heroic tragedy in his Poétique françoise (II: 49–51). Marmontel first evokes the character of Barnwell from The London Merchant (1731) by George Lillo (1693–1739), then describes the fate of Beverley from The Gamester (1753) by Edward Moore (1712–57); both plays are considered representative examples of English bourgeois tragedy and were highly influential in both France and Germany.
¶ 53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 [14.5] L’humanité, ou, le tableau de l’indigence (1761/1777) by Pierre Louis Paul Randon de Boisset (1708–76). A German translation, Die Menschlichkeit oder Schilderung der Dürftigkeit, was published in 1762.
¶ 56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 [14.8] Le Joueur (1696): 5-act verse comedy by Jean-François Regnard (1655–1709). The theater may have used the German prose translation (possibly by J. C. Krüger) staged in Hamburg by Schönemann in 1747 (Robertson 66–7). A 1748 translation by Lessing and Christian Felix Weisse (1726–1804) is not extant. Susanna Centlivre (1669–1723) provided an English adaptation, The Gamester (1708).
¶ 57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 [14.9] Charles-Rivière Dufresny or Du Fresny (1648–1724); author of Le Chevalier Joueur (1697). Lessing’s criticism of Regnard and Dufresny comes from French sources (see Léris, Dictionnaire portatif historique 254-5; and Parfaict, Histoire du théâtre français 15: 405; 409).
¶ 58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 [14.10] The Married Philosopher: see . The Lover, Author and Servant [L’amant auteur et valet] (1740): one-act comedy by Pierre Cérou (1709-1797), first performed at the Théâtre Italien. There were several German translations under different titles; it is unclear which was used here (see Robertson 67–8).
¶ 59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [14.11] La Mère Coquette, ou, Les Amans Brouillés (1665): verse comedy by Philippe Quinault (1635–88). Lessing’s criticism comes from Parfaict, 9: 369–82. The German translation used was likely Die bulhafftige Mutter found in Schau-Bühne Englischer und Frantzösischer Comödianten […] [Theater of the English and French Players] (1670).
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 [14.12] In Quinault’s play, the titular character, assuming her husband has died in slavery, attempts to marry her daughter’s suitor. After many complications, a maid brings news that an old slave (bribed to claim the husband is dead) is, in fact, the missing husband.
¶ 62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 [14.14] L’avocat Patelin [The Lawyer Patelin] (1706), three-act prose comedy by David-Augustin de Brueys (1640–1723), theologian and playwright. It was translated into German as Der betrogene Lackenhändler (1742) and Der Advocat Patelin (1762). An English translation, The Village Lawyer (1792), is attributed to both Colman the Elder and Charles Lyons.
¶ 63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 [14.15] Der Freigeist (wr. 1749). Adrast, a freethinker, rejects the friendship of Theophan, a clergyman, believing him to be a hypocrite. Theophan is engaged to the pious Juliane, while Adrast (secretly in love with Juliane) is engaged to her more spirited sister Henriette. The sisters realize they prefer each other’s fiancés (and Theophan realizes he prefers Henriette); their father, Lisador, happily rearranges the couples at play’s end.
¶ 64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 [14.16] Joachim Wilhelm von Brawe (1738–58). Brawe’s Der Freigeist contended with Cronegk’s Codrus in Nicolai’s 1756 competition for the best unpublished German tragedy.
¶ 70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 [15.1] Five-act tragedy from 1732. The company used J. J. Schwabe’s German translation in alexandrines, Zayre (1741). A tremendous success (throughout Europe and in America), in Germany Zaïre was arguably the most popular of Voltaire’s tragedies. See Jacobs, “Introduction to Zaïre” 282–92.Zaïre, a slave to Orosmane (the Sultan of Jerusalem), has been raised Muslim, despite her Christian origins. Zaïre and Orosmane fall in love and prepare to marry. Liberated by Orosmane, Lusignan, the aged former king of Jerusalem, discovers that Zaïre and Nérestan, a French knight, are his children. Before he dies, Lusignan has Zaïre swear to become Christian and to hide her parentage; Zaïre is now torn between love and Christian filial duty. Orosmane becomes suspicious of her secrecy, then jealous when he intercepts a letter from Nérestan; Zaïre avows her fidelity but will not reveal her secrets. Orosmane kills her, and then, after Nérestan reveals himself as Zaïre’s brother, kills himself.
¶ 71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 [15.2] Lessing quotes the majority of the “Avertissement” added by Voltaire to the 1738 edition of Zaïre. (Voltaire earlier claimed to have written the play in 22 days).
¶ 74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 [15.5] Here Lessing takes a swipe at Voltaire, who, both before and after Zaïre, had criticized what he perceived as an overemphasis on love in French tragedy; rather than appear to be abandoning this view, Voltaire describes Zaïre in terms of “gallantry” rather than love, a distinction that he employs elsewhere as well. See Voltaire, Discours sur la tragédie 183; A Discourse on Tragedy 189–91; and Jacobs 399.
¶ 76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 [15.7] Christoph Martin Wieland (1733–1813) provided the first German overview of Shakespeare’s work with his prose translation of 22 plays in eight volumes (1762–6). Critics have taken Wieland to task for both his style and his errors in translation; Wieland also considerably altered Shakespeare to fit more staid eighteenth-century tastes, purging the plays of their “less tasteful” elements. See Paulin, “Shakespeare and Germany” 317.
¶ 77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 [15.8] Zaïre premiered at the Comédie-Française in 1732. Adapted as The Tragedy of Zara (1736) by Aaron Hill (1685–1750), an English playwright and essayist, it was first performed in London in 1735, appearing at Drury Lane in 1736.
¶ 78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 [15.9] Sir Everard Fawkener (1694–1758): English merchant, diplomat, and statesman. Voltaire’s “Épître Dédicatoire à M. Fakener [sic]” [“Dedicatory Epistle to Monsieur Fawkener”] appeared with the 1732 printing of Zaïre; the “Seconde Lettre au même monsieur Fakener [sic]” [“A Second Letter to Mr. Falkener”] was appended to the second 1736 edition.
¶ 79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 [15.10] This paragraph is taken from the second letter to Fawkener (“Seconde Lettre” 412–13; “A Second Letter to Mr. Falkener [sic]” 16). Joseph Addison (1672–1719): influential English essayist and playwright, known for his literary/social periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator, as well as for his classical tragedy Cato (1713).
¶ 80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 [15.11]Phèdre, Cleopatra: scholars remain uncertain as to which English plays Voltaire might be referencing here. Cato: a reference to Addison’s tragedy (although the character does not in fact compare himself to a rock).
¶ 87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 [16.4] Jeanne Cathérine Gaussin (1711-67). Voltaire’s laudatory poem “Épître Dédicatoire à Mademoiselle Gossin [sic], Jeune Actrice” [“Dedicatory letter to Mme Gossin, Young Actress”] was added to the 1732 edition of Zaïre.
¶ 88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 [16.5] Aaron Hill (c. 1715-1739), nephew and namesake of the playwright; his performance of Osman (Orosman) on Zara’s opening night was a spectacular failure and he was removed from the cast.
¶ 90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 [16.7] Count Gasparo Gozzi (1713–86): Italian playwright, critic, poet, and translator whose collected works appeared in 12 volumes (1794–98). Not to be confused with his more famous brother, Carlo Gozzi (1720–1806).
¶ 91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 [16.8] In the original (as well as in Schwabe’s translation) Orosman stabs himself, then orders safe conduct for Nerestan, who, in the final lines of the play, expresses his confusion over how to view the tragic figure. See Voltaire, Zaïre 523.
¶ 92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 [16.9] Frederik Duim (1673–1754), playwright; possibly the father of Izaak Duim (1696–1782), a renowned actor. His adaptation is entitled Zaïre, bekeerde Turkinne [Zaïre, the Converted Turk] (1735).
¶ 95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 [16.12] This paragraph is drawn from Le Comédien (1747), in which Sainte-Albine details the emotional and physical transitions that an actor playing Orosman must embody. See Sainte-Albine 208–14.
¶ 97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 [17.1] Sidney, three-act verse comedy by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset (1709–77). Translated anonymously into English as Sidney, or, the Self-Murderer Reclaimed (1801) and into German as Sidnei, oder: der Schwermüthige [Sidney, or, the Melancholic] (1751). Sidney, a rich young Englishman, has come to regret his abandonment of his love, Rosalia, for a libertine lifestyle; his empty existence and guilt have rendered him suicidal. Sidney’s friend Hamilton tries to help him but fails. Rosalia arrives to confront Sidney, but his friends learn that he has already drunk poison. Luckily, his faithful servant, Dumont, has substituted a harmless drink in its place. The estranged lovers are reunited.
¶ 100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 [17.4] Das Gespenst mit der Trommel (1741): a translation by L. A. Gottsched of Le tambour nocturne [The Night Drum] (1736) by Destouches, itself an adaptation of The Drummer or the Haunted House (1715) by Joseph Addison. See .
¶ 101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 [17.5] Démocrite amoureux (1700): five-act comedy in verse by Jean-François Regnard. The German translation in alexandrines used, Demokrit, oder, Der lachende Philosoph [Democritus, or, the Laughing Philosopher] (1749) was by actor-manager and playwright Heinrich Gottfried Koch (1703–75). In his criticism of the play, Lessing quotes liberally and often verbatim from the Histoire du théâtre français (see Parfaict 14: 164–70). Democritus, a misanthropic philosopher, exiles himself to a cave with his servant Strabo. They befriend a peasant, Thaler, and his daughter Criseis, with whom Democritus falls in love. Agelas, king of Athens, brings them all to his court and also falls in love with Criseis, who turns out to be the long-lost half-sister of Princess Ismene, his intended wife. Agelas marries Criseis, freeing Ismene to marry her love, Prince Agenor. Strabo falls in love with Ismene’s servant Cleanthis, who is revealed to be his own forsaken wife. Most of this action occurs in the final act; the play deals primarily with Democritus’s struggles to conceal his feelings.
¶ 102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 [17.6] Mademoiselle Beauval and la Thorillière: Jeanne Olivier Bourgignon Beauval (c.1647–1720) and Pierre le Noir, sieur de la Thorillière (1656–1731), contemporaries of Molière.
¶ 104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 [18.1] Les Fausses Confidences (1737): three-act prose comedy by Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (1688–1763). The German translation used is unknown. Contemporary English translations have been provided by Bentley (The False Confessions) and Wertenbaker (False Admissions).
¶ 106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 [18.3] Harlequin: Arlecchino, a character from Italian commedia dell’arte; Marivaux wrote extensively for the Théâtre Italien in Paris. Lessing exaggerates Marivaux’s use of Harlequin, who appears in 13 of his 36 comedies.
¶ 108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 [18.5] Callippides: proverbial Athenian actor who imitated running while remaining in place (either the 5th century BCE tragedian, or a mime of the same name).
¶ 109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 [18.6] In 1737, influential actress-manager Friedericke Caroline Neuber (“die Neuberin”) (1697–1760) staged Die Verbannung des Hanswurst von der Bühne [The Expulsion of Harlequin from the Theater]. Neuber partnered with J.C. Gottsched to develop a literary and morally respectable German-language theater. More so than Neuber, Gottsched objected to the improvised (and sometimes obscene) comedy of Hanswurst, the German Harlequin. Lessing, despite his own disapproval of lowbrow comedy, had defended Hanswurst while attacking Gottsched’s French preferences. See Letter 17 (dated 16 Feb., 1759) of the Litteraturbriefe (Werke und Briefe 4: 499–501). Tr. note: “Under the auspices”: Lessing uses the Latin phrase sub auspiciis Sr. Magnificenz to heighten his sarcastic jibe at Gottsched.
¶ 111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 [18.8] Timon le Misanthrope (1722) and Le faucon et les oies de Boccace [Boccaccio’s The Falcon and the Geese] (1725): comedies written for the Théâtre Italien by Louis-François Delisle de La Drevetière (1682–1756).
¶ 114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 [18.11] Lawyer and historian Justus Möser’s (1720–94) essay, Harlekin, oder Vertheidigung des Groteske-Komischen [Harlequin or a Defense of the Grotesquely Comical] (1761), favorably reviewed by Lessing.
¶ 115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 [18.12] Harlequin says: “Herr Lessing, a man who possesses enough insight to one day become my eulogist, would perhaps object here that the exaggeration of figures is a sure means of undermining [the writer’s] purpose, by misleading spectators to believe that they are far beyond the licentious ridicule of folly.” In a later edition, Möser added an erratum, claiming that he had misremembered statements by Lessing in the Beiträge (Möser 46).
¶ 117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 [18.14] Zelmire: five-act verse tragedy by French playwright and actor Pierre-Laurent Buirette de Belloy (also known as Dormont de Belloy) (1727–75). Polidor, king of Lesbos, thought murdered by his usurping son Azor, is being kept alive in a subterranean tomb by his daughter Zelmire, who gives him her breast milk. Azor has been killed by Prince Antenor, who now controls the island, supported by the head of the military, General Rhamnes. Zelmire’s husband, Ilus, returns from battle and denounces her. Antenor attempts to stab Ilus, then frames Zelmire when she intervenes. Zelmire is finally cleared when Polidor is revealed and a Thracian soldier produces a note in which Azor identifies Antenor as his murderer. Antenor orders Rhamnes to kill Polidor, but the general kills Antenor instead.
¶ 118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 [18.15] Le Siège de Calais (1765): five-act “national tragedy” in verse. Depicts the heroism of self-sacrificing French burghers during the Hundred Years’ War; the play became a sensation, due in part to the recent events of the Seven Years’ War (1756–63).
¶ 121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 [18.18] Also from Horace, who asks, “When this care for money, this rust, has stained the spirit,” how can we make poems worthy of posterity? (Ars Poetica l. 330f.)
¶ 127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 [18.24] Here Lessing paraphrases an anonymous essay on Zelmire published in Pierre Rousseau’s Journal Encyclopédique (14:37, 1967 reprint; 14:124, original 1762 edition).
¶ 130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 [19.2] Eighteenth-century discussions of aesthetic taste focus heavily on a discourse of universal and natural human responses, while simultaneously establishing the critic (or connoisseur) as necessary for determining the parameters of universal rather than personal taste.
¶ 131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 [19.3] Tr. note: the word Lessing uses here, Wahrscheinlichkeit, translates literally as: “the quality of seeming true.” The term is most often translated as “probability” or “plausibility.”
¶ 134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 [19.6] Ilus and Polidor, disguised as a Trojan soldier, go to battle with Antenor. Zelmire, weeping because she believes Polidor captured, does not recognize the disguised Polidor as he enters a tomb to hide. Polidor, looking toward the battle, fails to see Zelmire. Zelmire, attempting to save her father, reveals the location of the “Trojan Captain” to Rhamnes, inadvertently giving her father to the enemy.
¶ 138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 [19.10] Antoine Houdar de la Motte (1672–1731): playwright and theorist who challenged neoclassical principles, including the use of verse in tragedy. See la Motte, Discours à l’occasion de la Tragédie d’Oedipe 390–96.
¶ 141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 [20.1] Cénie (1751): five-act sentimental comedy in prose by Françoise de Graffigny (1695–1758). Translated by L. A. Gottsched as Cenie, oder die Grossmuth im Unglücke, ein moralisches Stück [Cenie, or Magnanimity in Misfortune, a moral play] (1753). Dorimond’s two nephews, Mericourt and Clerval, wish to marry his daughter Cenie. Mericourt seeks Cenie’s fortune; Clerval, only her love. When Cenie, who loves Clerval, objects to her betrothal to Mericourt, he produces letters from her deceased mother revealing that Dorimond is not her father and that Cenie is in fact the daughter of her governess, Orphise. In the end, Cenie’s father, Dorsainville (Orphise’s long-lost husband), is rediscovered, enabling Cenie to marry Clerval.
¶ 145 Leave a comment on paragraph 145 0 [20.5] Here Lessing critiques not Hensel’s physical appearance, but rather her forceful emotional expression, which he also censures in . In contrast, Hensel is praised in  for giving a “delicate” and “picturesque” performance of femininity. It is assumed that this review exacerbated the already existing tension between Lessing and Hensel.
¶ 146 Leave a comment on paragraph 146 0 [20.6] “For this man, his limbs are all tongues”: from the epigram “De Pantomimo” found in the anonymous Anthologia Latina (c. 500). The line continues, “It is the miracle of art which enables his fingers to speak when his mouth is silent.” See Kay 44; 136.
¶ 147 Leave a comment on paragraph 147 0 [20.7] Friday: Lessing’s mistake; the performance was on Monday. Amalia (1766): five-act comedy by Christian Felix Weisse, a friend of Lessing’s from their college days. Amalia learns that Freeman, the man who jilted her five years earlier, has become impoverished through free-living. Having inherited wealth, Amalia disguises herself as a man (Manley) in order to find and aid him. In the final act, “Manley” tests Madame Freeman (who is not legally married to Freeman) by offering to return jewelry lost through gambling in exchange for her favors. Madame Freeman refuses, Freeman challenges “Manley,” and Amalia reveals herself. Freeman wishes to marry the now wealthy Amalia, but she rebuffs him. The play’s characters and setting somewhat resemble Miss Sara Sampson.
¶ 151 Leave a comment on paragraph 151 0 [20.11] Le Financier (1762): a one-act comedy by Germain-François Poullain de Saint-Foix (1698–1776). The German translation, Der Finanzpachter (1762), may have been by Christian August Wichmann (1735–1807) (see Robertson 76).