Poetry vs Visual Art in Lessing’s Laocoon

A R T L▼R K

12158On the 22nd of January 1729, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born in Kamenz, Saxony, Germany. He was a precocious writer, philosopher, publicist, art critic, the first real playwright in theatre history and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment. As a literary theorist, he is well-known for his essay Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (1766). There is a predominant theme in the culture of  Enlightenment: that semiotics and aesthetics are interrelated disciplines and that the aesthetic of an era is closely linked to the theories about language and signs. Lessing wrote,“I argue thus. If it be true that painting employs wholly different signs or means of imitation from poetry, – the one using forms and colours in space, the other articulate sounds in time, – and if signs must unquestionably stand in convenient relation with the thing signified, then…

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