1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Knebel, Karl Ludwig von
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Knebel, Karl Ludwig von
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KNEBEL, KARL LUDWIG VON (1744-1834), German poet and translator, was born at the castle of Wallerstein in Franconia on the 30th of November 1744. After having studied law for a short while at Halle, he entered the regiment of the crown prince of Prussia in Potsdam and was attached to it as officer for ten years. Disappointed in his military career, owing to the slowness of promotion, he retired in 1774, and accepting the post of tutor to Prince Konstantin of Weimar, accompanied him and his elder brother, the hereditary prince, on a tour to Paris. On this journey he visited Goethe in Frankfort-on-Main, and introduced him to the hereditary prince, Charles Augustus. This meeting is memorable as being the immediate cause of Goethe's later intimate connexion with the Weimar court. After Knebel's return and the premature death of his pupil he was pensioned, receiving the rank of major. In 1798 he married the singer Luise von Rudorf, and retired to Ilmenau; but in 1805 he removed to Jena, where he lived until his death on the 23rd of February 1834. Knebel's Sammlung kleiner Gedichte (1815), issued anonymously, and Distichen (1827) contain many graceful sonnets, but it is as a translator that he is best known. His translation of the elegies of Propertius, Elegien des Properz (1798), and that of Lucretius' De rerum natura (2 vols., 1831) are deservedly praised. Since their first acquaintance Knebel and Goethe were intimate friends, and not the least interesting of Knebel's writings is his correspondence with the eminent poet, Briefwechsel mit Goethe (ed. G. E. Guhrauer, 2 vols., 1851).
Knebel's Literarischer Nachlass und Briefwechsel was edited by K. A. Varnhagen von Ense and T. Mundt in 3 vols. (1835; 2nd ed., 1840). See Hugo von Knebel-Döberitz, Karl Ludwig von Knebel (1890).