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Reception, gratitude and obligation: Lessing and the classical tradition

By John T. Hamilton


Lessing conceives tradition as a gift from the past. The modern recipients of the classical legacy are not to receive it passively, but to engage with it dialogically. This is a moral obligation which Lessing undertakes by vindicating Horace against slanders and by his controversies with Lange and Klotz. In Wie die Alten den Tod gebildet Lessing attacks Klotz for regarding the classical heritage as a mere collection of dead objects, whereas Lessing illustrates a new movement in philology which sought not merely to conserve antiquities and edit texts but to interpret past literature with an eye to present-day needs.Germanic Languages and Literature

Publisher: Voltaire Foundation
Year: 2017
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