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52 years

   
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the first of the truly German dramatists, was born in a Lutheran clergyman's family. As was a frequent custom in clergymen's families, his father looked after his early education, later sending him to a famous school at Meissen. So apt a pupil was young Lessing that at 16 he was ready for the University of Leipzig.

At the university he studied theology, then medicine, and later literature and philosophy. But already he had made a connection with the stage through translating French plays for Frau Neuber's theater. In 1748 Frau Neuber put on Lessing's own maiden effort, Der Junge Gelehrte. From that time on, regardless of his financial fortunes, Lessing gave his entire interest to some form of writing. For a time he was employed in making translations by Voltaire, who was at this time living in Germany. This contact, however, soon ended in disagreement, according to some authorities, because Lessing betrayed a literary confidence of Voltaire's.

The friendship could not have lasted long, at any rate, because Lessing soon found his own dramatic beliefs directly opposed in principle to Voltaire's pseudo-classicism. His revolt against the Voltairean school is expressed in practical fashion in his first important play, Miss Sara Sampson (1755), a bourgeois tragedy of epoch-making importance to the German stage.
 
 
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the first of the truly German dramatists, was born in a Lutheran clergyman's family. As was a frequent custom in clergymen's families, his father looked after his early education, later sending him to a famous school at Meissen. So apt a pupil was young Lessing that at 16 he was ready for the University of Leipzig.

At the university he studied theology, then medicine, and later literature and philosophy. But already he had made a connection with the stage through translating French plays for Frau Neuber's theater. In 1748 Frau Neuber put on Lessing's own maiden effort, Der Junge Gelehrte. From that time on, regardless of his financial fortunes, Lessing gave his entire interest to some form of writing. For a time he was employed in making translations by Voltaire, who was at this time living in Germany. This contact, however, soon ended in disagreement, according to some authorities, because Lessing betrayed a literary confidence of Voltaire's.

The friendship could not have lasted long, at any rate, because Lessing soon found his own dramatic beliefs directly opposed in principle to Voltaire's pseudo-classicism. His revolt against the Voltairean school is expressed in practical fashion in his first important play, Miss Sara Sampson (1755), a bourgeois tragedy of epoch-making importance to the German stage. More...

 
    Voltaire, Author and Philosopher
  Voltaire, Author and Philosopher
François-Marie Arouet, better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and free trade. Voltaire was a prolific writer...
 
       
 
         
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