Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

1729 (Kamentz, Germany) – 1781 (Braunschweig)

Lessing is a key figure in German literature. Weisse and he were close student friends, scrounging food and shelter together, and translating plays for money. Mendelssohn was a colleague and lifelong friend; he said Lessing was the only person who never made him feel, as a Jew, unwanted (though his freemasonry upset him). Lessing met and did translations for Voltaire in Berlin, but delayed return of a manuscript, and attacked his cultural influence. In Hamburg, Lessing met Bach and played chess with Klopstock. Jacobi wanted to meet him for years, finally did, and influentially published their conversation about Spinoza.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing knew…