Title: Emilia Galotti
Author: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Started: July 2, 2007
Finished: July 2, 2007
Pages: approx. 71
Genre: classic, play
Where The Book Came From: from my shelf (re-read)
First Sentence: [translated by: me] The Prince (at his work desk which is full of letters and papers, he's reading some of them) Lamentations, nothing but lamentations!
[from wikipedia.org] Set in Italy, Emilia Galotti tells the story of a virtuous young woman of the upper middle class. The absolutist prince of Guastalla, Hettore Gonzaga, becomes obsessed with the idea of making Emilia his lover after their first meeting. He thus gives his conniving chamberlain, Marinelli, the right to do anything in his power to delay the previously arranged marriage between Emilia and Count Appiani. Marinelli then hires criminals who shortly thereafter murder the count on his way to the wedding. Emilia is quickly brought to safety in the count's nearby summer residence. Unlike her mother Claudia, Emilia does not yet recognise the true implications of the scheme. A few moments later, Countess Orsina, the prince's former mistress, comes to the residence as well. Out of frustration over her harsh rejection by the prince, she attempts to convince Odoardo, Emilia's father, to avenge Count Appiani by the means of stabbing the prince to death. Odoardo, however, hesitates in agreeing with this proposal and decides to leave the revenge in the hands of God. Emilia, who must remain under the protection of the prince due to another intrigue on Marinelli's behalf, attempts to convince her father to kill her in order to maintain her dignity in light of the prince's exertions to seduce her. The father agrees and stabs her, but immediately feels appalled by his deed. In the end Odoardo leaves the matter to the prince. He subsequently decides that Marinelli is responsible for the catastrophe and has him banned from his court. Ultimately Emilia's father recognises God as the absolute authority.
Reason For Reading: I had to read it for class (on honor in literature).
Comments: Ah well, what can I say. It is a classic and to me those are either hit or miss - there's no in between. And this one is a hit. Emilia is a young woman engaged to Count Appiani. On the day she is to leave for her wedding, the Prince hears about the upcoming wedding and is in a way devastated because he wanted to have her from the day he saw her. So he plots to have her despite the scheduled wedding.
I liked the character studies and was rather fond of this bourgeois tragedy because it doesn't follow the standards set by the French model of this era (it premiered in 1772).
Miscellaneous: It was a re-read and my old copy back from school didn't have a summary. The one on wikipedia.org is pretty good, IMO.