Christoph Friedrich Nicolai

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nicolai, Christoph Friedrich


Born Mar. 18, 1733, in Berlin; died there Jan. 8, 1811. German writer, critic, and publisher.

In 1784, Nicolai became a member of the Academy of Sciences in Munich, and in 1799 a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He founded the Enlightenment publications Briefe die neuste Literatur betreffend (Letters on the Modern Literary Question; 1759–65) and Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek (Universal German Library; 1765–1806). The co-founders of these publications were M. Mendelssohn and G. E. Lessing, whose polemical correspondence with Nicolai on the purpose of tragedy became very well known.

Nicolai wrote the humorous novels The Life and Opinions of Master Sebaldus Nothanker (vols. 1–3, 1773–76) and The Joys of Young Werther (1775), a flimsy parody of Goethe’s novel. Nicolai’s rationalist conservatism aroused sharp criticism from J. G. von Herder, Goethe, F. von Schiller, and the brothers A. W. von Schlegel and K. W. F. von Schlegel.


Lessings Briefwechsel mit Mendelssohn und Nicolai über das Trauerspiel. Leipzig, 1910.


Tronskaia, M. L. Nemetskaia satira epokhi Prosveshcheniia. Leningrad, 1962. Pages 166–84.
Sommerfeld, M. F. Nicolai und der Sturm und Drang. Halle an der Saale, 1921.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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