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Nathan the Wise : a dramatic poem in five acts (1779)

by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,157513,698 (3.81)13
A Jewish merchant, a Muslim sultan, and a young Templar knight transcend the differences in their faiths in this play's moving plea for religious tolerance and cooperation amongst Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, the Enlightenment-era drama explores timeless considerations that range from the nature of God to the conflict between love and duty and the importance of unity amid division and diversity. Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise) was published in Germany in 1779, although its performance was forbidden by the church during the lifetime of author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. The highly influential play had its 1783 premiere in Berlin and has since been translated into many languages and adapted for performances around the world.… (more)
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» See also 13 mentions

English (4)  Italian (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
I've read enough of Tasso and Ariosto to see that ending coming. But I wasn't expecting to love the prose so much. Verbally, it was beautifully constructed. And, as a metaphor, it was lovely in this contentious culture that we live in. I highly recommend it. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Lessing's best play, and maybe the first soap opera out there, with a very diverse family having a happy humanist ending that defies intolerance, crusades, misogyny, and bad chess games. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
It is difficult to summarize the plot of this play without making it sound like one of those airplane jokes where there are too few parachutes for the people on board. Nevertheless, it is a play about Jews, Muslims, and Christians in crusader times. More important, it's message about religious tolerance makes it a significant book to be read today - it shows the Jew and Muslim as demonstrating more tolerance and virtue than any of the Christian characters.

The E-book edition I read included both the German text and the English translation mixed together on the same page with the English somewhat greyed out. Although it would be possible to actually just read the German text, I found it difficult not to read the English text as well. This took away some of the drama of the story but added to the comprehension of what was being read. the English text also included some footnotes that were necessary to be able to understand the context of the events in the play. ( )
1 vote M_Clark | Mar 12, 2016 |
(1729-1781)
  jkuiperscat | Aug 23, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lessing, Gotthold EphraimAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curme, George OliverTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morgan, Bayard QuincyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
MOTTO: Introite, nam et hic Dei sunt!* Apud Gellium Enter, for here too there are gods!
Dedication
First words
Nathan von der Reise kommend. Daja ihm entgegen.
ACT I SCENE I (Vestibure in Nathan's house.---Nathan returning from a journey. Daya comes to meet him.)DAYA. It's he, it's Nathan!---Endless thanks to God,That you at last return to us again.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This work contains only the text by G.E.Lessing. Do not combine with works that also contain interpretation, material and other helps.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

A Jewish merchant, a Muslim sultan, and a young Templar knight transcend the differences in their faiths in this play's moving plea for religious tolerance and cooperation amongst Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, the Enlightenment-era drama explores timeless considerations that range from the nature of God to the conflict between love and duty and the importance of unity amid division and diversity. Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise) was published in Germany in 1779, although its performance was forbidden by the church during the lifetime of author Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. The highly influential play had its 1783 premiere in Berlin and has since been translated into many languages and adapted for performances around the world.

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