Ship of Fools

Frontispiece to Sebastian Brant's, Ship of Fools 1494.

So much has been written about Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools it would be foolish indeed to attempt to say anything original in this lowly post. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to explain why I love this book and why it continues to be a source of inspiration to me:

  • The woodcuts and verse are shockingly irreverent and a little bawdy. Perhaps this is why it was one of the most popular books of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. A popular book of verse. How odd.
  • The wood cuts are quite splendid and many are attributable to a young Albrecht Dürer. The compositions may seem cramped but you get your money’s worth — lots of ink and details.
  • The verse is at times confusing and cloaked in 500 year old German idiom. These are delightful puzzles.
  • Human folly is an ageless and endlessly entertaining subject — at least to humans anyway.

Check out The University of Houston’s library site where all The Ship of Fools woodcuts can be found. What an excellent resource.

One response to “Ship of Fools

  1. Pingback: Don Weddle: Ship of Fools | New Gottland

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