Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz


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Lenz, Jakob Michael Reinhold

 

Born Jan. 12, 1751, in Sesswegen, in former Livland; died May 24, 1792, in Moscow. German writer and playwright.

The son of a pastor, Lenz went to Königsberg to study theology in 1768. In 1771, Lenz joined the circle of “stormy geniuses” headed by J. W. van Goethe in Strasbourg and became one of the theoreticians of the Sturm und Drang movement. Lenz led a restless existence. In 1781 he moved to Russia, where he became close to N. I. Novikov’s circle. In his Notes on the Theater (1774), Lenz argued against the aesthetics of classicism and proclaimed art to be free from normative rules; he demanded the creation of vivid and original characters. His article “On the Use of the German Language” (1775) urged writers to study popular speech.

Lenz’ plays are characterized by a mixture of the tragic and comic and by free, “Shakespearean” composition. His plays are imbued with antifeudal feelings—for example, The Tutor (1774) and Soldiers (1776). Lenz’s poetry resembled Goethe’s early love lyrics.

WORKS

Gesammelte Schriften, vols. 1–4, 2nd ed. Edited by E. Lewy. Leipzig, 1917.
In Russian translation:
“Soldaty” [excerpts]. In Khrestomatiia po zapadnoevropeiskoi literature: Literatura vosemnadtsatogo veka. Moscow, 1938. Pages 556–63.

REFERENCES

Rozanov, M. N. Poet perioda “burnykh stremlenii” Iakob Lents, ego zhizn’ i proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1901.
Kindermann, H. J. M. R. Lenz und die deutsche Romantik. Vienna-Leipzig, 1935.

L. E. GENIN