The essays collected in this volume constitute the first collection in English on the German writer Lenz (1751-1792). They grew out of the International J.M.R. Lenz Symposium organized by Professor Madland and held in October 1991 at the University of Oklahoma. Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, a writer whose work has received increasing attention lately for its prefiguration of the theater of our own century, emerges in these articles written by prominent Germanists and literary critics as a man ahead of his times, bedeviled by the neuroses of modernity. At the beginning of his career in the early 1770s, Lenz was so highly regarded that he was compared to Goethe. But Lenz had trouble establishing himself both socially and as a writer, and only Der Hofmeister was staged during his lifetime. By the time of his death at the age of 42, he had been almost forgotten by his contemporaries. General essays focus on Lenz's interest in linguistic matters, showing that he saw the unlocking of the potential of language as an act of liberation; on literary genre and sexual gender in Lenz's work; and, linking Lenz's characters to those of the twentieth century, on the rise of the lowly hero from Lenz to Georg Buchner to Bertolt Brecht.