Breaking with the traditional view of Sturm und Drang comedy as a radically new beginning in the history of the comic genre, this article highlights important continuities that define German comedy from the Enlightenment through Sturm und Drang. More precisely, this article traces the variations on the central theme of vice that extend from the Enlightenment poetics of Johann Christoph Gottsched to Sturm und Drang plays by Lenz and Wagner. At the center of the analysis are the comedies Das Testament (1745) by Luise Gottsched, Minna von Barnhelm (1767) by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, and Der Hofmeister (1774) by J. M. R. Lenz, as well as the drama Die Reue nach der That (1775) by Heinrich Leopold Wagner. Through these readings, Sturm und Drang's innovations become legible as the continuation of a well-established tradition of variations on a stable theme—a perspective that revises our understanding of the history of German comedy and that bears broader implications for the periodization of eighteenth-century German literature.


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pp. 17-32
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