“Shall we be tolerant of intolerance?” The Reception of Lessing’s Nathan the Wise in American Exile
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This paper departs from the assumption that no other drama disposes of such a broad, international, and symbolically charged interpretation history as Nathan the Wise (1779). While the play was censored in Nazi Germany, European (and often Jewish) authors, who had sought refuge in the United States, brought Nathan along to perpetuate Lessing’s plea for religious tolerance. In this transatlantic adaptation process, however, the authors chose to adjust the original text to the cultural as well as societal and political conditions both in their old and new homeland(s). Could Nathan stand up to these new challenges?
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