Sturm und Drang

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(German: Storm and Stress) A German literary and dramatic movement of the later 18th-century. The term came from the title of a preposterous play by Friedrich von Klinger (1776). The movement, essentially a reaction against 18th-century neoclassicism, was greatly influenced by the idealism of Rousseau and the example of Shakespeare. The plays of the Sturm und Drang are characterized by an emphasis on passionate emotion, a disdain for the unities and other literary conventions, and a concern with the individual’s struggle against tyranny and oppression. Leading works of the movement include Goethe’s play Götz Von Berlichingen (1773), his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1773), and Schiller’s play Die Räuber (1781). Other writers associated with the Sturm und Drang include Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), the movement’s main theorist, and Jakob Lenz (1751–92), who formulated the rules of Romantic drama in his treatise Anmerkungen übers Theater (1774). Sturm und Drang was imitated throughout Europe and influenced early 19th-century English melodrama. It also spawned a subgenre called the ritterdrama (Knight Drama).

from Jonathan Law, ed., The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre (London, 2011).