Vom Kriegs-Stand oder: Lessings Komödie ‚Minna von Barnhelm‘ im Gegenlicht deutschsprachiger Soldatenstücke des 18. Jahrhunderts
Pages 329 - 345
The essay examines Lessing’s comedy Minna von Barnhelm within a new source context. On the one hand, literature (of the 18th century) on the professional ethics of officers, as yet ignored by research, is used to trace the emergence of the concept of honour as a bourgeois value in the (traditionally aristocratic) military domain. This distinguishes the Tellheim character as an officer of the new era. On the other hand, a set of so-called “soldier plays” (Soldatenstücke) is analysed, which were written in the aftermath of Minna von Barnhelm and most of which had passed into oblivion. This yields as-yet-overlooked references to the Seven Years’ War, which shed new light on the political content of this bourgeois piece of dramatic art, even when its affirmative nature, its trust in the order of enlightened absolutism, is undoubted. The comparison with the conception of the characters and the dynamics of the central conflict in Lessing’s comedy emphasises all the more its critical and subversive intention and carves out, yet again, the achievement underlying its form, the “collision of characters” (Lessing).