1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schlegel, Johann Elias

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SCHLEGEL, JOHANN ELIAS (1719-1749), German critic and dramatic poet, was born at Meissen on the 28th of January 1719. He was educated at Schulpforta and at the university of Leipzig, where he studied law. In 1743 he became private secretary to his relative, von Spener, the Saxon ambassador at the Danish court. Afterwards he was made professor extraordinary at the academy of Seröe, where he died on the 13th of August 1749. Schlegel was a contributor to the Bremer Beiträge and for some time, while he was living in Denmark, edited a weekly periodical, Der Fremde. With his dramas as well as with his critical writings he did much to prepare the way for Lessing, by whom his genius was warmly appreciated. He wrote two lively and well-constructed comedies, Der Triumph der guten Frauen and Die stumme Schönheit, the former in prose, the latter in alexandrines. Hermann and Canut (in alexandrines) are generally considered his best tragedies.

His works were edited (in 5 vols., 1761-1770) by his brother, J. H. Schlegel (1724-1780), who had a considerable reputation as a writer on Danish history. Another brother, J. Adolf Schlegel (1721-1793), an eminent preacher, and author of some volumes of verse, was the father of August Wilhelm and Friedrich von Schlegel. J. E. Schlegel's Ästhetische und dramaturgische Schriften have been edited by J. von Antoniewicz (1887), and a selection of his plays by F. Muncker in Bremer Beiträge, vol. ii. (Kürschner's Deutsche Nationalliteratur, vol. xliv., 1899). See, besides the biography by his brother in the edition of his works, E. Wolff, Johann Elias Schlegel (1889); and J. Rentsch, Johann Elias Schlegel als Trauerspieldichter (1890).