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.