1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Engel, Johann Jakob

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ENGEL, JOHANN JAKOB (1741–1802), German author, was born at Parchim, in Mecklenburg, on the 11th of September 1741. He studied theology at Rostock and Bützow, and philosophy at Leipzig, where he took his doctor’s degree. In 1776 he was appointed professor of moral philosophy and belles-lettres in the Joachimstal gymnasium at Berlin, and a few years later he became tutor to the crown prince of Prussia, afterwards Frederick William III. The lessons which he gave his royal pupil in ethics and politics were published in 1798 under the title Fürstenspiegel, and are a favourable specimen of his powers as a popular philosophical writer. In 1787 he was admitted a member of the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, and in the same year he became director of the royal theatre, an office he resigned in 1794. He died on the 28th of June 1802.

Besides numerous dramas, some of which had a considerable success, Engel wrote several valuable books on aesthetic subjects. His Anfangsgründe einer Theorie der Dichtungsarten (1783) showed fine taste and acute critical faculty if it lacked imagination and poetic insight. The same excellences and the same defects were apparent in his Ideen zu einer Mimik (1785), written in the form of letters. His most popular work was Der Philosoph für die Welt (1775), which consists chiefly of dialogues on men and morals, written from the utilitarian standpoint of the philosophy of the day. His last work, a romance entitled Herr Lorenz Stark (1795), achieved a great success, by virtue of the marked individuality of its characters and its appeal to middle-class sentiment.

Engel’s Sämtliche Schriften were published in 12 volumes at Berlin in 1801–1806; a new edition appeared at Frankfort in 1851. See K. Schröder, Johann Jakob Engel (Vortrag) (1897).