Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim (1729–81)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M029-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

List of works

  • Lessing, G.E. (1886–1924) Sämtliche Schriften, Lachmann; 3rd edn, trans. and ed. F. Muncker, Stuttgart, Berlin and Leipzig: Goschen, later De Gruyter, 23 vols.

    (The standard scholarly edition of Lessing’s writings.)

  • Lessing, G.E. (1766) Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry, trans. E.A. McCormick, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, Library of Liberal Arts, 1962.

    (A central aesthetic text; the first part of an uncompleted three-part work.)

  • Lessing, G.E. (1767–8) Hamburg Dramaturgy, trans. E.C. Beardsley and H. Zimmern, in European Theories of the Drama, ed. B.H. Clark, rev. H. Popkin, New York: Crown, 1965.

    (Central critical texts. A series of periodical essays and a primary source for Lessing’s dramatic theory and critique of Aristotle’s Poetics in relation to the dramatic unities.)

  • Lessing, G.E. (1769) ‘How the Ancients Represented Death’, in Death and the Visual Arts, trans. E.C. Beasley and H. Zimmern, New York: Arno Press, 1977.

    (Reprint of 1879 translation. Polemical reply to an attack on Laocoon.)

  • Lessing, G.E. (1785) The Spinoza Conversations Between Lessing and Jacobi, trans. G. Vallee, J.B. Lawson and C.G. Chapple, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988.

    (Includes translations and extended introductory discussion of the controversial report by F.H. Jacobi of his 1780 conversation with Lessing.)

References and further reading

  • Cassirer, E. (1951) The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, trans. F. Koelln and J.P. Pettegrove, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    (Useful if somewhat exaggerated estimate of Lessing’s influence on the development of aesthetics.)

  • McClain, J. (1986) ‘Time in the Visual Arts: Lessing and Modern Criticism’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44 (1): 41–58.

    (Discussion of Lessing’s influence on critical treatment of time.)

  • Mendelssohn, M. (1757) ‘Reflections on the Sources and Combinations of the Fine Arts and Letters’, in Gesammelte Schriften, Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1971.

    (A primary source for Hendelssoton’s distinction between natural and conventional symbols and for his attempts to classify the arts.)

  • Mendelssohn, M. (1771) ‘On the Chief Principles of the Fine Arts and Letters’, in Gesammelte Schriften, Stuttgart and Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1971.

    (A revised version of the 1757 essay.)

  • Robertson, J.G. (1965) Lessing’s Dramatic Theory, New York: Benjamin Blom.

    (Extended technical discussion of Lessing’s stage theory.)

  • Rudowski, V.A. (1986) ‘Lessing contra Winckelmann’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44 (3): 235–244.

    (Lessing’s relation to Winckelmann.)

  • Rudowski, V.A. (1971) Lessing’s Aesthetica in Nuce, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

    (Includes text of 1769 letter to Nicolai.)

  • Wellbery, D.E. (1984) Lessing’s Laocoon: Semiotics and Aesthetics in the Age of Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    (Theory is heavily semiotic, but also includes very good discussion of philosophical background. Citations from Mendelssohn above are Wellbery’s translations.)

Citing this article:
Townsend, Dabney. Bibliography. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim (1729–81), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M029-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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