Lessing's Laocoon:Semiotics and Aesthetics in the Age of Reason

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Lessing's Laocoon:Semiotics and Aesthetics in the Age of Reason
This study analyses the emergence of aesthetic theory in eighteenth-century Germany in relation to contemporary theories of the nature of language and signs. As well as being extremely relevant to the discussion of literary theory, this perspective casts much light on Enlightenment aesthetics. The central text under consideration shows that the extended comparison of poetry and the plastic arts contained in that major work of aesthetic criticism rests upon a theory of signs and constitutes a complex and global theory of aesthetic signification. His analysis of Laocoon is preceded by chapters which establish the underlying structure and influence of the Enlightenment metasemiotic - that is, the place and function of the sign concept in the culture of the early eighteenth century. As an important reinterpretation of Lessing's Laocoon and of the development of German aesthetic theory, this book will be of special interest to students and scholars of German literature. Moreover, as a significant chapter in the history of semiotics, it will be read with profit by all those concerned with the history of literary criticism and aesthetic theory.
Publication Date: 
July 6, 2009