The text is intended to be a faithful reproduction of the second edition, the last which received Lessing's final corrections. Important variants are mentioned in the notes. For practical reasons it, has been thought best to modernize the spelling, but only so far as it could be done without changing the actual language of the author. In the absence of an autograph manuscript there are, of course, cases in which it is uncertain just how far the form as preserved represents the author's actual language. In such cases the modern forms appear in the text, but the orthography of the original edition is given in the notes. The punctuation has been in part simplified, but not how ever, so as to efface anything that is truly characteristic.