The literary critic, poet, playwright and philosopher Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg (1737-1823) is regarded as one of the pioneers of the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) with his literary letters and the tragedy "Ugolino" (1768) and also influenced the young poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) with his poetry. In his 20th literary letter he formulated essential moments of the genius concept for the first time.
In this poetic diary, which Gerstenberg mainly kept during his Altona school days between 1751 and 1757, he combines his own poems, critical treatises and translations. One remarkable feature is a kind of reading list on the first page, which contains important names of writers, literary theorists and philosophers such as Bodmer (1698-1783), Pope (1688-1744), Baumgarten (1714-1762), Young (1683-1765), Winckelmann (1717-1768) and Gottsched (1700-1766). There are also comments on verse and prose, on syllable measures and excerpts from Corneilles (1606-1684) writings on drama; "Don Quixote" by Cervantes (1547-1616) is finally enthusiastically mentioned in 1756.
The diary as a whole can be seen as a reflection of the dominant aesthetic theory (Gottsched) and is also significant as evidence of "an early aesthetic interest" (Klaus Gerth).