The "Leben des guten Jünglings Engelhof" novel first published anonymously in the "Baierischen Beyträgen zur schönen und nützlichen Literatur" in 1779, was written by the historian, folklorist, high school teacher, canon and Enlightenment philosopher Lorenz Westenrieder (1748-1829). Compared to the journal version, the two-volume book edition (1781/82) contains considerably more pages; some sub-plots have also been expanded.
Probably the most important Bavarian novel of the Enlightenment period uses a colourful variety of of documents, letters, diary pages and direct narrative form to describe the life story and suffering of a noble-minded, destitute academic who is entrusted with the education of a Count's two children and, filled with philanthropic ideals, also wanted to have a reforming effect in justice, the care of the poor and popular education at the same time. In his sincerity and inability to adapt, he finally becomes a victim of intrigues and slander and lives out his life as a social misfit until he dies of emaciation, bedridden and as a Christian believer.
Engelhof has features of an educational and trial novel, the structure is reminiscent of Christian narrative forms. But the "components of (new) humanism, sensitivity, reform enlightenment and (Catholic) Christianity" (Wilhelm Haefs) are mainly constitutive for his understanding.