Karl Andreas Bel - Professor

Personal data
Born July 13, 1717
in Bratislava

Died April 05, 1782
in Leipzig
Karol Andrej Bel

Born in Bratislava, son of Matthias Bel (1684-1749) a famous Hungarian-Slovak scholar.

Bel was educated at Altdorf bei Nürnberg, Jena and Strassburg. In 1743 he became extraordinary Professor and in 1756 (or 1757) ordinary Professor of Poetry at the University of Leipzig. From 1754 until his death he was the (last) editor of the famous monthly scholarly journal Nova Acta Eruditorum Lipsiae, and from 1756 he was even librarian of the university.1

  • 1. Main source for this biography is the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (1875).
Life with Boswell

Following a suggestion from J. C. Gottsched, Boswell waited on Bel at Leipzig on October 4, 1764. He was well received, and described Bel as “a lively Hungarian, with a degree of French manners”. On the next day, Bel showed Boswell the university library (of which he was the librarian), and also forwarded his name to the poet Gellert, whom Boswell went to visit that same afternoon.

Boswell went back to Bel in the evening, and they had pleasant conversation. In the end, Boswell "gave it him that I would send my son to his care", i.e. have his future son(s) study in Leipzig.1

On October 6, Boswell was joined by Bel at his lodgings. Boswell “gave him bread and butter and cheese and fruit and wine. I called it ‘cena Pythaorica’; but I found that our good Professor would have chosen to be of a sect that lived a little better”. They were still “very merry” however and "renewed our literary covenant to send each other mutual accounts of the state of learning in our different countries”.

  • 1. Boswell's eldest son Alexander did go to Leipzig, but not until 1795-6 when James Boswell had just died, and Bel had been dead for 13 years. Also, he was not formally enrolled in the University according to a note in Boswell on the Grand Tour vol 1.

It is sometimes possible to find a few early editions of some of his works on the [Abebooks] used books search engine. Try searching for author "C. A. Bel".