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THE present volume forms the third Part of my Edition of German Classics in the Clarendon Press Series. Various circumstances have compelled me to depart from the order of succession first planned out, which was to issue them in a graduated series, beginning with Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm, to be followed by Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, and Goethe's Egmont successively.
As regards the execution of the task before me in editing the present play, I have strictly adhered to the principle which I adopted in my former volumes of German Classics; namely, to annotate them in much the same way in which the Greek and Latin Classics are usually treated.
I have endeavoured to show in the Critical Analysis the high literary value of Minna von Barnhelm as a dramatic production, to give a full delineation of the characters and to explain the import of the play from a national point of view. It therefore only remains for me to say a few words on the fitness of this piece for the purposes of education.
I think it is no exaggeration to assert that there are extremely few comedies in modern languages which are, in every respect, as suitable to be placed in the hands of the young as Minna von Barnhelm. The play is highly entertaining, nearly every scene is a masterpiece in itself — the language in which it is expressed is most pure and idiomatic, and a noble spirit of honour, disinterestedness, and generosity