George Büchner (1813-1837) was a Romantic German writer whose short story “Lenz” (1836) is really a beautiful piece of work. Lenz is an extremely sensitive man able to experiment beauty in an unusual degree. Nature, childhood and religion give him a high sense of spiritual communion in the most holistic sense. The detailed descriptions of nature and his feelings towards it remind Wordsworth’s Preface, which in fact is a a very Romantic approach to this realm. The idealisation of nature, childhood and religion remind as well the Enlightened ideas of Rousseau. In fact, these three realities are the only ones able to calm down the suddenly mood changes of Lenz, which go from ecstasy to depression. Their power to redeem Lenz’s tormented soul is linked to their primitive and innocent beauty.
This story, far from being comical, provokes a feeling of compassion towards Lenz’s madness and an empathy with his sensibility.