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Nathan the Wise

Nathan the Wise

By Gotthold E. Lessing
Translated by Edward Kemp
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Paperback : 9781854597656, 96 pages, April 2004


Lessing's 18th-century masterpiece, a passionate plea for religious tolerance.

Jerusalem, 1192. An uneasy stalemate exists between the Muslim forces of Saladin and the western Crusaders. Caught in the middle are the Jews. All sides respect Nathan for his wisdom and his wealth. But in a war-zone, no one is secure.

This acclaimed English version of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's 1779 play Nathan the Wise by Edward Kemp was premiered at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2003, and was revived at Hampstead Theatre in 2005.


"Edward Kemp's fine translation. .. combines Germanic seriousness with a winning English wit. .. Not only is Nathan the Wise both relevant and resonant, it is also one of those rare plays where you genuinely want to know what will happen next. " —Daily Telegraph

"Edward Kemp's terrific translation balances German gravitas with a comic deftness. " —Financial Times

"An important work. .. even more eloquent today. " —The Times

"This is a play whose time has come again. .. brilliantly lucid translation. .. eminently worth seeing. .. a seminal piece of world drama written in 1779 and banned by the Nazis in 1933, its theme speaks urgently and forcefully to us today. " —Guardian