Sturm und Drang

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang (shtŏŏrm ŏŏnt dräng) or Storm and Stress, movement in German literature that flourished from c.1770 to c.1784. It takes its name from a play by F. M. von Klinger, Wirrwarr; oder, Sturm und Drang (1776). The ideas of Rousseau were a major stimulus of the movement, but it evolved more immediately from the influence of Herder, Lessing, and others. With Sturm und Drang, German authors became cultural leaders of Europe, writing literature that was revolutionary in its stress on subjectivity and on the unease of man in contemporary society. The movement was distinguished also by the intensity with which it developed the theme of youthful genius in rebellion against accepted standards, by its enthusiasm for nature, and by its rejection of the rules of 18th-century neoclassical style. The great figure of the movement was Goethe, who wrote its first major drama, Götz von Berlichingen (1773), and its most sensational and representative novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Other writers of importance were Klopstock, J. M. R. Lenz, and Friedrich Müller. The last major figure was Schiller, whose Die Räuber and other early plays were also a prelude to romanticism.

See studies by R. Pascal (1953, repr. 1967) and M. O. Kirsten (1969).

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