Sturm und Drang (Ger.: ‘storm and stress’)
- Daniel Heartz
- , revised by Bruce Alan Brown
(Ger.: ‘storm and stress’)
A movement in German letters, reflected in the other arts, that reached its highpoint in the 1770s. It is most easily defined by its artistic aims: to frighten, to stun, to overcome with emotion. In line with these aims was an extreme emphasis on an anti-rational, subjective approach to all art. Although almost accidental in origin, the term ‘Sturm und Drang’ reflected ancient Stoic concepts of tempestas and affectus, according to Heckscher (1966–7), now positively rather than negatively valorized with regard to artistic creation. The young Goethe was the leading figure, with his play Götz von Berlichingen (1773) on a medieval German subject.
The movement had been prepared by various creative spirits of the mid-century, who were still half part of the fashionable appeal to sentimentality of the time, so-called ‘Empfindsamkeit’. On an international level it is necessary to give credit to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts...