Bits on Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang
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Sturm und Drang (the conventional translation is "Storm and Stress"; a more literal translation, however, might be storm and urge, storm and longing, storm and drive or storm and impulse) is the name of a movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in response to the confines of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements.
The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it, initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.

The term Sturm und Drang first appeared as the title to a play about the ongoing American Revolution by German author Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, published in 1776, in which the author gives violent expression to difficult emotions and heralds individual expression and subjectivity over the natural order of rationalism. Though it is argued that literature and music associated with Sturm und Drang predate this seminal work, it is this point at which historical analysis begins to outline a distinct aesthetic movement occurring between the late 1760s through the early 1780s of which German artists of the period were distinctly self-conscious. Contrary to the dominant post-enlightenment literary movements of the time, this reaction, seemingly spontaneous in its appearance, came to be associated with a wide breadth of German authors and composers of the mid to late classical period.

Sturm und Drang came to be associated with literature or music aiming to frighten the audience or imbue them with extremes of emotion until the dispersement of the movement into Weimar Classicism and the eventual transition into early Romanticism where socio-political aims were incorporated (these aims asserting unified values contrary to despotism and limitations on human freedom) along with a religious treatment of all things natural.There is much debate regarding whose work should and should not be included in the canon of Sturm und Drang; there being an argument for limiting the movement to Goethe, Herder, Lenz and their direct German associates writing works of fiction and philosophy between 1770 and the early 1780s.
The alternative perspective is that of a literary movement inextricably linked to simultaneous developments in prose, poetry, and drama extending its direct influence throughout the German-speaking lands until the end of the 18th century. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the originators of the movement viewed it as a time of premature exuberance which was then abandoned in later years for often conflicting artistic pursuits.

The protagonist in a typical Sturm und Drang stage work, poem, or novel is driven to action not by pursuit of noble means nor by true motives, but by revenge and greed. Further, this action to which the primary character is drawn is often one of violence. Goethe's unfinished Prometheus exemplifies this along with the common ambiguity provided by the interspersion of humanistic platitudes next to outbursts of irrationality.[6] The literature with Sturm und Drang has an anti-aristocratic slant and places value on those things humble, natural, or intensely real (i.e. painful, tormenting, or frightening).
The story of hopeless love and eventual suicide presented in Goethe's sentimental novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) is an example of the author's tempered introspection regarding his love and torment. Friedrich Schiller's drama, Die Räuber (1781), provided the groundwork for melodrama to become a recognized dramatic form through a plot portraying the conflict between two aristocratic brothers, Franz and Karl Moor. Franz is portrayed as a villain attempting to cheat Karl out of his inheritance, though the motives for his action are complex and initiate a thorough investigation of good and evil. Both of these works are seminal examples of Sturm und Drang in German literature.

[edit] Notable literary works
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832):
Zum Schäkespears Tag (1771)
Sesenheimer Lieder (1770–1771)
Prometheus (1772–1774)
Götz von Berlichingen (1773)
Clavigo (1774)
Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774)
Mahomets Gesang (1774)
Adler und Taube (1774)
An Schwager Kronos (1774)
Gedichte der Straßburger und Frankfurter Zeit (1775)
Stella. Ein Schauspiel für Liebende (1776)
Die Geschwister (1776)
Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805):
Die Räuber (1781)
Die Verschwörung des Fiesko zu Genua (1783)
Kabale und Liebe (1784)
An die Freude (1785)
Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1751–1792)
Anmerkung über das Theater nebst angehängtem übersetzten Stück Shakespeares (1774)
Der Hofmeister oder Vorteile der Privaterziehung (1774)
Lustspiele nach dem Plautus fürs deutsche Theater (1774)
Die Soldaten (1776)
Friedrich Maximilian Klinger (1752–1831):
Das leidende Weib (1775)
Sturm und Drang (1776)
Die Zwillinge (1776)
Simsone Grisaldo (1776)
Gottfried August Bürger (1747–1794):
Lenore (1773)
Gedichte (1778)
Wunderbare Reisen zu Wasser und zu Lande, Feldzüge und lustige Abenteuer des Freiherren von Münchhausen (1786)
Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg (1737–1823):
Gedichte eines Skalden (1766)
Briefe über Merkwürdigkeiten der Literatur (1766–67)
Ugolino (1768)
Johann Georg Hamann (1730–1788):
Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten für die lange Weile des Publikums zusammengetragen von einem Liebhaber der langen Weile (1759)
Kreuzzüge des Philologen (1762)
Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse (1746–1803):
Ardinghello und die glückseligen Inseln (1787)
Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803):
Fragmente über die neuere deutsche Literatur (1767–1768)
Kritische Wälder oder Betrachtungen, die Wissenschaft und Kunst des Schönen betreffend, nach Maßgabe neuerer Schriften (1769)
Journal meiner Reise im Jahre (1769)
Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache (1770)
Von deutscher Art und Kunst, einige fliegende Blätter (1773)
Volkslieder (1778-79)
Vom Geist der Hebräischen Poesie (1782–1783)
Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784–1791)

from Book I " The Sorrows of Young Werther", Johnn Wolfgang Von Goethe, 1772.

MAY 22.

That the life of man is but a dream, many a man has surmised heretofore; and I, too, am everywhere pursued by this feeling. When I consider the narrow limits within which our active and inquiring faculties are confined; when I see how all our energies are wasted in providing for mere necessities, which again have no further end than to prolong a wretched existence; and then that all our satisfaction concerning certain subjects of investigation ends in nothing better than a passive resignation, whilst we amuse ourselves painting our prison-walls with bright figures and brilliant landscapes,—when I consider all this, Wilhelm, I am silent. I examine my own being and find there a world, but a world rather of imagination and dim desires, than of distinctness and living power. Then everything swims before my senses, and I smile and dream while pursuing my way through the world.
All learned professors and doctors are agreed that children do not comprehend the cause of their desires; but that the grown-up should wander about this earth like children, without knowing whence they come, or whither they go, influenced as little by fixed motives, but guided like them by biscuits, sugar-plums, and the rod,—this is what nobody is willing to acknowledge; and yet I think it is palpable.
I know what you say in reply; for I am ready to admit that they are happiest, who, like children, amuse themselves with their play-things, dress and undress their dolls, and attentively watch the cupboard, where mamma has locked up her sweet things, and, when at last they get a delicious morsel, eat it greedily, and exclaim, “More!” These are certainly happy beings; but others also are objects of envy, who dignify their paltry employments, and sometimes even their passions, with pompous titles, representing them to mankind as gigantic achievements performed for their welfare and glory. But the man who humbly acknowledges the vanity of all this, who observes with what pleasure the thriving citizen converts his little garden into a paradise, and how patiently even the poor man pursues his weary way under his burden, and how all wish equally to behold the light of the sun a little longer,—yes, such a man is at peace, and creates his own world within himself; and he is also happy, because he is a man. And then, however limited his sphere, he still preserves in his bosom the sweet feeling of liberty, and knows that he can quit his prison whenever he likes.


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