Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress)
Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress): A late-eighteenth-century German literary movement in which drama was the genre of choice and whose adherents emphasized inspiration, emotion, passion, and individualism. The term is taken from the title of Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger’s play Der Wirrwarr, oder Sturm und Drang (Confusion, or Storm and Stress) (1776). Led primarily by German poet and philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder, the Sturm und Drang movement was characterized by rebellion against the Enlightenment preoccupation with reason and the strict tenets of French neoclassicism, such as the three unities. Proponents privileged subjectivity, exalted nature, and embraced the folk, or common people; their works tended to be extremely nationalistic and typically featured conflicts between the individual and society, particularly the tragic struggle of a solitary young genius against societal strictures.
Significant influences included folk traditions; the ancient Greek epic poet Homer; eighteenth-century Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who popularized primitivist concepts; and English Renaissance poet and playwright William Shakespeare, whom proponents of the movement considered liberated from classical conventions and whose works had recently been translated into German by Christoph Martin Wieland (8 vols.; 1762—66). Other writers associated with the movement included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jakob Michael Reinhold (J. M. R.) Lenz, Friedrich Müller, and Friedrich Schiller. Certain English novels, such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), show the influence of the German Storm and Stress movement.
FURTHER EXAMPLES: Goethe’s play Götz von Berlichingen (1773) and epistolary novel Die leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) (1774). Other noted plays include Lenz’s Die Soldaten (The Soldiers) (1775), Heinrich Leopold Wagner’s Die Kindermörderin (The Child-murderess) (1776), and Schiller’s Die Räuber (The Robbers) (1781).