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A New and Complete Translation

Editorial Notes — “Paralipomena”

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [105.1] Paralipomena: “things omitted or neglected that are added as a supplement.” These items consist of notes found amongst Lessing’s papers. Most are in conversation with existing essays in the Hamburg Dramaturgy; a few are preparatory notes on plays he intended to revisit when they were remounted. The notes are organized in their presumed (but not uncontested) chronological order; see Bohnen “Textgrundlage” in Werke und Briefe 6: 1072.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [105.2] Drafts for Discussions (Entwürfe zu Besprechungen): these first eight items follow the order that they are arranged in the collection of Lessing’s works edited by Karl Lachmann and Franz Muncker (subtitles and numbers in brackets are theirs); see Lessing, Sämtliche Schriften [Complete Works] 15: 38–48.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 [105.3] These comments are associated with the Hamburg National Theater’s first repeat performance of Lessing’s Miss Sara Sampson (1755) on July 20, 1767, which Lessing mentions in [73]; Lessing discusses the first performance in [13] and [14]. Repeat performances followed on Feb. 22, 1767; Sept. 12, 1768; and Feb. 23, 1769.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 [105.4] Jakob Friedrich Freiherr von Bielfeld (1717–70): German statesman and author; Bielfeld in fact includes the entirety of an anonymous French translation of Miss Sara Sampson in his Progrès des Allemands dans les Sciences, les Belles-Lettres et les Arts, particulièrement dans la Poësie, l’Eloquence, et le Théatre [The Progress of the Germans in Science, Literature, and the Arts: Particularly in Poetry, Eloquence, and Theater] (1752; revised and expanded 1767.)

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [105.5] Numerous English tragedies have been suggested (some more convincingly than others) as source material for Miss Sara Sampson, including George Lillo’s The London Merchant (1731), Thomas Shadwell’s The Squire of Alsatia (1688), and Charles Johnson’s Caelia (1733); the plot is indeed drawn from Shadwell and Johnson. Lessing may also have been influenced by classical sources, as well as Samuel Richardson’s enormously successful epistolary novel Clarissa (1747–48; translated into German in 1748–49). See Nisbet 196–9; and Paul Kies, “The Sources and Basic Model of Lessing’s ‘Miss Sara Sampson.’”

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 [105.6] Lessing evokes The Critique of the School for Wives (1663) in his discussion, in [53], of Molière’s L’École des femmes [The School for Wives] (1662); for an English translation of the passage, see Molière, Tartuffe and Other Plays 193. For Lessing’s German translation, see Werke und Briefe 6: 697–8.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [105.7] Here Lessing translates a passage from the Abbé Trublet’s Essais sur divers sujets de litterature et de la morale [Essays on Several Subjects of Literature and Morality] (1735); see Trublet 4: 215. Lessing questions an observation by Trublet on French drama in [53].

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [105.8] Lessing discusses L’École des femmes [The School for Wives] in [53].

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [105.9] This paragraph is a free translation from Voltaire’s Life of Molière; see Voltaire, “L’École des Femmes” in La Vie de Molière 423–4.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [105.10] Scaramouche (in Italian, Scaramuccia): Italian commedia dell’arte character, developed by the famous Italian actor Tiberio Fiorillo (also Fiorilli, or Fiurelli) (c.1608–94), a co-manager of the Comédie-Italienne in Paris; the Italian company, which shared performance spaces with Molière’s troupe, decamped to Italy in July 1659, returning in January 1662.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [105.11] See note 6 above.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [105.12] These comments are associated with the third performance of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia [Olint and Sophronia] (1764) on August 12, 1767; Lessing’s discusses the first performance in essays [1] – [5], and critiques Cronegk in [7]. A repeat performance followed on May 4, 1768.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 [105.13] Der Misstrauische [The Suspicious Man] (French title: Le Défiant) (1765): five-act comedy by Cronegk. For the assessment referenced by Lessing, see Anon., “Des Freyherrn Johann Friedrich von Cronegk Schriften” in the Journal encyclopédique 196 (page 88 in the original).

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 [105.14] Ibid., 197 (91–2 in the original).

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [105.15] Codrus (1757): five-act verse tragedy by Cronegk; see [1.3] and [7.5].

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [105.16] Athalie (1691): five-act verse tragedy by Racine, based on the biblical story of Athaliah in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22–3; Racine’s play included a chorus of young girls.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [105.17] See note 13 above.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [105.18] Brutus (1730): five-act verse tragedy by Voltaire; the play includes a chorus of non-speaking senators. Audiences apparently laughed at the chorus in Voltaire’s earlier Oedipe [Oedipus] (1718); see Voltaire, Discours sur la tragédie 176; for the English, see Voltaire, “A Discourse on Tragedy” 87–8.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 [105.19] For Lessing’s thoughts on “Christian tragedy,” see essays [1] and [2].

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [105.20] “An English writer who perceived the merit of this tragedy has appropriated it. His play appeared under the title: ‘Olindo and Sophronia, a Tragedy taken from Tasso, by Abraham Portal, Esq. London. 1758.’” Olindo and Sophronia: a five-act verse tragedy by Abraham Portal (1726–1809), an English playwright of Huguenot origin. Portal cites as his source Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata [Jerusalem Delivered] (1581); see [1.4].

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 [105.21] The original, unfinished version of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia was first published in 1760; a completed version was published in 1764. See [1] and [1.2].

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [105.22] August 14, 1767 saw the first repeat performance of both Franz von Heufeld’s Julie (1766) and J. E. Schlegel’s Die stumme Schönheit [The Dumb Beauty] (1747). Heufeld’s Julie was first performed on April 17, 1767; Lessing uses that occasion to discuss the play in [8] and [9]. Subsequent performances followed on Sept. 1 and Nov. 17, 1767; and April 6, July 26, and Aug. 25, 1768. Schlegel’s Die stumme Schönheit [The Dumb Beauty], was first performed on May 5, 1767; see [13]. Subsequent performances followed on Oct. 29, 1767; and Jan. 2, Jan. 5, and Feb. 13, 1769.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 [105.23] Die Haushaltung nach der Mode, oder Was soll man für eine Frau nehmen? [Housekeeping à la mode, or What should one take for a wife?] (1765) and Die Liebhaber nach der Mode, oder Was soll man für einen Mann nehmen? [The Fashionable Lovers, or What should one take for a husband?] (1766); Lessing alludes to these plays in [8].

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 [105.24] Der Geburtstag (1767): Heufeld also produced a two-act version; see note 26 below.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 [105.25] pièces à tiroir (“plays that belong in a drawer”): a comic genre consisting of loosely affiliated scenes that are thematically linked, often with an actor playing multiple roles.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 [105.26] Die Schwester des Bruder Philipps [Brother Philip’s Sister] also appears as a standalone one-act with a slightly altered title: Die Tochter des Bruder Philipps [Brother Philip’s Daughter] (1769). Der Geburtstag [The Birthday] was also published in a two-act version that omits the Brother Philip insert.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 [105.27] These comments are associated with the first repeat performance of C. S. Favart’s comedy Soliman second, ou les trois Sultanes [Solomon the Second, or the three Sultanas] (1761) on August 24, 1767. Lessing uses the first performance on July 3, 1767 to critique both Favart’s play and its source, Jean François Marmontel’s story “Soliman II”; here Lessing picks up his criticism of Favart’s depiction of the sultana Roxelane, whom Favart has made a Frenchwoman. See Essays [33] – [36]. Subsequent repetitions took place on November 11, 1767; and January 8 and 19, February 25, July 20, November 18, and December 12, 1768.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 [105.28] Le François à Londres [The Frenchman in London] (1727): one-act prose comedy by Louis de Boissy.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 [105.29] “We amuse ourselves by copying the dandy, on whom all the features of ridicule are worn out, and whose portrait is nothing but a school for those young men who have some disposition to become one.” See Jean François Marmontel, Poetique Françoise 2: 276. (Ed. note: the page numbers in our edition differ from those of Lessing’s.)

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 [105.30] Le Siège de Calais [Siege of Calais] (1765): tragedy by Dormont de Belloy; see [18.15].

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 [105.31] Roxelanes: flighty, insolent flirts; see note 27 above.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 [105.32] These notes relate to Lessing’s discussion, in [32], of Voltaire’s criticism of Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Rodogune, which Lessing addresses in [29] – [32]. Lessing’s information is drawn in part from an entry in the Journal Encyclopédique; see Anon., “Lettre de Mr. [sic] de Voltaire, à Mr. [sic] l’Abbé d’Olivet.”

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 [105.33] Marie Françoise Corneille was in fact not the granddaughter of the playwright Pierre Corneille, but of his cousin (also named Pierre). Lessing’s footnote seems to relate to his discussion, in [36], of C. S. Favart’s theatrical adaptation of Marmontel’s story “Soliman II” (see note 27 above); in that essay, Lessing lists Antoine Houdar de la Motte’s one-act comedy La Matrone d’Éphèse [The Ephesian Widow] (1702) as an example of an unsuccessful adaption (of the story of the Widow of Ephesus in the Satyricon). Lessing’s first footnote reference is to “The Ephesian Matron: or Widow’s Tears” (1668), a heroic poem by the Scottish-born printer, poet, translator, and failed theatrical entrepreneur John Ogilby (1600–76); see Cibber, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland 2: 267. His second footnote reference is to The Ephesian Matron (1730), a one-act farce by English playwright Charles Johnson (c.1660–1744); see Cibber, Lives 5: 342.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 [105.34] The Comédie Française gave a benefit performance of Pierre Corneille’s Rodogune on March 10, 1760; although the proceeds went to Marie’s father, Jean François Corneille, a portion was put toward her schooling. (Marie Corneille was not in fact a direct descendent of the famous French playwright; see note 33 above.)

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 [105.35] The French poet Ponce Denis Ecouchard Le Brun (1729–1807) sent a poem with an accompanying letter to Voltaire in 1760, asking him to help the impoverished Marie Corneille (see note 33 above); Voltaire took the young woman in and secured her dowry through his multi-volume edited collection of P. Corneille’s plays. For the full story, see Williams, “Prelude to the First Edition” in Commentaires sur Corneille (I) 27–88.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [105.36] Although some praised Voltaire’s actions, there was also considerable gossip and scurrilous speculation concerning his motives. See Williams, “Prelude” 31–40. La petite nièce d’Eschyle [The grand-niece of Aeschylus] (1761): an “Athenian history translated from a Greek manuscript” by the Chevalier Jean-Florent-Joseph Neufville de Brunaubois-Montador (1707–70?); the pamphlet tells Marie Corneille’s story using Greek names (Pierre Corneille becomes Aeschylus, Voltaire Sophocles, Marie Corneille Cléonyme, and so forth). See the anonymous entry “La petite nièce d’Eschyle” in the Journal Encyclopédique Vol. 11, Book 1 (Jan 1761): 144–5.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 [105.37] Corneille’s granddaughter: see note 33 above.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 [105.38] Dishonor: Voltaire privately excoriated Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, who as the nephew of Pierre and Thomas Corneille, should have borne responsibility for the wellbeing of Marie Corneille. See Williams, “Prelude” 35–6.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 [105.39] For the original, see the editor’s introduction to Voltaire’s letter about his Corneille commentaries in the Journal Encyclopédique (Anon., “Lettre de Mr. [sic] de Voltaire, à Mr. [sic] l’Abbé d’Olivet” 114–15.) For a translation, see note 40 below.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [105.40] “The example that he gives is unique; he abandons, so to speak, his own turf to work his neighbor’s field and give it more value. Let those who slander his heart at least admire the nobility of such a rare practice. It is common that great men study one another, but they rarely comment on one another. Among the almost infinite numbers of Publishers, Commentators, Compilers, one can name many who have displayed some erudition; some have had wit; very few have had taste: here is the first one who has shown genius and has had more taste, wit, and even erudition than any of them. We shall admire even more the author of Rodogune, Polieucte, and Cinna when we see all these plays enriched by the Comments prepared by the author of Mahomet, Alzire, and Mérope; they will strengthen the idea that we form of Corneille and make him, if at all possible, even greater in our minds; they will make us re-read the text with more pleasure and usefulness.”

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [105.41] Reference to The Unhappy Favourite: or, The Earl of Essex (1682), by English playwright John Banks; discussed by Lessing in [54] – [59]. Thomas Corneille’s Le Comte d’Essex appeared in 1678; see [22] – [25]. Lessing’s footnote refers to Samuel Daniel’s tragedy Philotas, mentioned in [54] as potentially the first dramatization of Essex’s story; see [54.6]. Lessing slightly misrenders the title of Theophilus Cibber’s Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753); for the entry on Samuel Daniel, see Cibber, Lives 1: 145–9.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 [105.42] For the suggested sources of Banks’s play see [54.7].

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 [105.43] The Earl of Essex by Irish-born playwright Henry Jones is mentioned in [59]. For Cibber’s entry on Henry Jones, see Lives 3: 174–7.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 [105.44] The Earl of Essex by Irish-born playwright Henry Brooke is mentioned in [59].

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 [105.45] Henry Brooke’s Gustavus Vasa (1739) was one of the first plays to be banned for its political content after the institution in 1737 of the Licensing Act in England.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 [105.46] That is, the final scene between Essex and Queen Elizabeth I (in Act Four); see Brooke 40–4.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 [105.47] “He also had the Countess of Rutland tumble into madness, at the moment when this illustrious […] husband was led to the gallows: this moment when the Countess is an object worthy of pity produced a great sensation and was found admirable in London: in France, it would have appeared ridiculous, it would have been booed and the Countess would have been sent, along with the Author, to the Petites Maisons.” For the original, see Anon., “The Earl of Essex, a Tragedy” 120–1. Les Petites Maisons: insane asylum founded in 1557.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 [105.48] Canut (1747): five-act verse tragedy by Johann Elias Schlegel, performed by the Hamburg National Theater on Sept. 23, 1767.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 [105.49] J. E. Schegel, Canut 24.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 [105.50] This note of Lessing’s is reminiscent of his discussions of acting in [3] – [5].

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 [105.51] J. E. Schegel, Canut 26.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 [105.52] General Observations (Allgemeine Bemerkungen): the following five items follow the order that they are arranged in the collection of Lessing’s works edited by Karl Lachmann and Franz Muncker (the subtitle in brackets is theirs); see Lessing, Sämtliche Schriften [Complete Works] 15: 59–65.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 [105.53] “It is a very great carelessness not to finish his sentence and to allow him to be interrupted, especially when the person who interrupts is a subordinate, who lacks propriety by cutting off the speech of his superior. Thomas Corneille is prone to this error in all his plays.” See Voltaire, “Le Comte d’Essex” in Complete Works of Voltaire 55: 1015.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 [105.54] Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696–1782): Scottish lawyer and philosopher.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 [105.55] Elements of Criticism (1762): a highly influential multi-volume work on aesthetics, for which Home is best known. Lessing provides Home’s original English.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 [105.56] These remarks are associated with Lessing’s intention to discuss the third performance of Cronegk’s Olint und Sophronia (1764); see note 12 above. In Lessing’s record of performances by the Hamburg National Theater, there are two notes next to this evening; the first refers to Portal’s Olindo and Sophronia (see note 20 above). In the second, Lessing writes “Reintroduction of the chorus” and refers to Richard Hurd’s “Notes on the Art of Poetry,” which specifically mentions William Mason’s historical tragedies Elfrida and Caractacus (see note below). For Hurd’s thoughts on the function of the chorus, see “Notes on the Art of Poetry” 129–132. Lessing’s notes here also relate to his remarks, in [7], about English playwrights’ usage of prologues and epilogues.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 [105.57] William Mason (1725–97): English clergyman, poet, and playwright. Both his historical tragedies, Elfrida (1752) and Caractacus (1759), were “written on the model of the ancient Greek tragedy” and employed a chorus.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 [105.58] William Mason’s Elfrida, a Dramatic Poem (see note above), to which the playwright appends his “Letters: Concerning the following Drama.”

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [105.59] See note 57 above.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 [105.60] The remarks can be found in the “Review of Caractacus, a Dramatic Poem” in The Monthly Review 20: 507–12.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 [105.61] Henry Jones was indeed originally a bricklayer; see note 43 above and [59.8].

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 [105.62] Lessing refers to Abraham Portal, who was in fact a goldsmith and silversmith, as well as an author; see note 20 above.

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 [105.63] Henry Wild (1684–1721), the “Arabick Taylour”: autodidactic English tailor who mastered not only Arabic, but also Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and a number of other languages; he was not admitted to Oxford, but did translation work and teaching at the Bodleian Library. 1720 is the year that he moved to London.

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 [105.64] Robert Hill (1699–1777), “the famous Buckingham Taylor”: penurious autodidactic English tailor whose struggles to acquire learning were described by Joseph Spence (1699–1768), the English clergyman and scholar, in A Parallel; in the Manner of Plutarch: between a most celebrated Man of Florence; and One, scarce ever heard of in England (1759). Antonio Magliabechi (Magilabecchi) (1633–1714): autodidactic Italian goldsmith, classical scholar, ducal librarian, and famous bibliophile.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 [105.65] For a brief outline of Hill’s abilities, see The Monthly Review 20: 217–19.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 [105.66] These notes are connected to Lessing’s criticism, in [59], of overly “fastidious” or “bombastic” dramatic language, as well as to the initial reception of Lessing’s Minna von Barnhelm (see notes below).

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 [105.67] Minna: Lessing’s highly successful five-act prose comedy, Minna von Barnhelm, oder das Soldatenglück [Minna von Barnhelm, or, the Soldier’s Happiness], was premiered by the Hamburg National Theater in 1767, and had either fourteen or fifteen repeat performances (see J. G. Robertson 33); it was the company’s most performed play. The word “Hure” (whore), was not then associated with prostitution, but with the ruination of an unmarried girl; for the offending line, spoken by the servant Just in Act 1, Scene 12, see Lessing, Minna von Barnhelm in Werke und Briefe 6: 27; for an English translation, see Lessing, Minna von Barnhelm 22.

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 [105.68] Lessing’s brother Karl, in his letter of March 22, 1768, mentions that the word “whore” presented difficulties for the actor in the Berlin production of Minna as well; see “Brief von Karl Lessing” in Werke und Briefe 11/1: 512.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 [105.69] Das Loos in der Lotterie [The Lottery Ticket] (1746): five-act prose comedy by C. F. Gellert (1715–69). “shoving of the kerchief”: in Gellert’s play, the self-styled galant Herr Simon, who wishes to accompany the object of his fancy while she dresses, claims that he knows where to stuff a kerchief in a lady. See Gellert, Das Loos in der Lotterie 252.

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 [105.70] Henry Fielding (1701–54) and Samuel Richardson (1689–1761): two of the most important English novelists of the early eighteenth century.

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 [105.71] Joseph Andrews (The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams) (1742) and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749): bawdy novels by Fielding. Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady (1747–48): Richardson’s epistolary novel about a virtuous young woman who is lured from her home, held prisoner, and eventually raped by an evil aristocrat.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 [105.72] References in Lessing’s footnote: For Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s comment about Clarissa, see his Lettre à d’Alembert sur les Spectacles 170; for the English, see J. J. Rousseau, Letter to M. d’Alembert on the Theatre in Politics and the Arts 82. Mrs. Slipslop: character in Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews who is prone to malapropisms such as confidous (“confident”). For Mrs. Slipslop’s remark about ears, see Fielding, Joseph Andrews 34. In Molière’s Critique of the School for Wives (1663), female theatrical spectators of affected delicacy are described as “more chaste in their ears than in all the rest of their bodies” (180).

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 [105.73] These remarks relate to Lessing’s defense of his critical method and to his critique of the Deutsche Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften [German Library of Liberal Arts and Sciences] of Christian Adolf Klotz; see [96] and [101–104].

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