Exile and Enlightenment: The Appropriation of Lessing, 1929-1959

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates the appropriation of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing by German exile authors. It argues that their references to Lessing capture the ambiguities of exile writing, and proposes the reception of the Enlightenment as a fresh paradigm for exile studies. Lessing’s bicentenary in 1929 is shown to have set the platform for his reception over the following decades: it was thus the crisis of the late Weimar Republic, not the transformation of Germany after 1933, that was decisive in forming his image in exile. The article examines responses to Lessing and Enlightenment in the cultural politics of post-war Western Germany, focusing in particular on Alfred Döblin’s journal Das Goldene Tor and on Hannah Arendt’s speech on accepting the Lessing Prize of the city of Hamburg in 1959.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-211
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Special issue: "Appropriations Of and In the Eighteenth Century". 13,400 words.
Published 27 March 2015.

Structured keywords

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


  • Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim
  • Exile
  • Enlightenment
  • Cultural politics
  • Weimar Republic
  • Prussian Academy of Arts
  • Arendt, Hannah
  • Döblin, Alfred
  • Mann, Thomas
  • 'Other Germany'


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