Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kurtzweil Satires

woodcuts: cow conductor + goat on flute AND wolf crowns pig

woodcut illustrations: knight rides lobster + child rides rooster

dancing bear and friar in vase riding a bird

man in tub unravels yarn AND rabbit as jockey on snail

dog in cylinder AND hat-wearing goose hanging in bag

man rides bird AND cow plays bagpipes: 16th century woodcut illustrations

swine plays organ, frog plays drum AND ass plays drums

absurdist woodcuts from Kurtzweil by J Wickram 1550 e

absurd satirical illustrations featuring jesters or fools

armored rabbit waves flag AND goat plays lute

woodcuts: 4 absurd anthropomorphic satires

Jörg Wickram (~1505-1562) was a German writer from the Alsace region (now France) who straddled the Renaissance and Early Modern periods of literature development.

Wickram's versatile output ranged from translation work (he translated Ovid without knowing any latin) to poetry, dramatic narratives and collections of humorous anecdotes (Schwank) that drew influence from Sebastian Brandt's 'Ship of Fools' (1494), animal fable satires and the medieval minnesang tradition (seen here recently). Although these collected tales were popular, Wickram is perhaps best known for producing the earliest forms of the novel in German literature.

'Kurtzweil' (1550) is a lesser known work of poetry in the vernacular German by Wickram, featuring crude anthropomorphic woodcut illustrations, reminiscent of (but predating) Le Monde Renversé satires. There is next to nothing by way of commentary around online, but I think it's a fairly safe bet that 'Kurtzweil' belongs to the satirical/moral body of Schwank anthologies, prevalent in 16th century German literature.


Karla said...

Not just the snail-riding rabbit and the lute-playing goat, but an ox with bagpipes! I think I want my walls covered with these.

Kittybriton said...

Some of these images suggest that he may have seen the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch (to me, at least)

Tess Kincaid said...

Yes, I think my favorite is the rabbit on the snail, too! And the boar on his soap box.

peacay said...

Bosch yes, for sure. So many roads lead back there. Bruegel too. I could do with a very detailed book on absurdity in art covering 15th/16th C.

Kittybriton said...

The second image, righthand page, the boy (?) riding the cockerel suddenly struck me when I visited the page a second time! I remember seeing something similar on a classical Greek piece of pottery. It never occurred to me at the time, but I have since wondered if there was a subtle subtext... @'.'@

Karla said...

I tried looking up the Greek boy-on-cockerel to compare the two, but had no luck (well, I didn't look all that far--only came up with vases with cockfights). But I think the boy-on-cockerel is fairly normal compared to the facing page with the lobster-riding knight and his winged-heart helmet, which I didn't notice at all the first time around.

There's just too much to look at...

Karla said...

Forgot to add that there was probably a predictable subtext on the Greek boy, but from what I could read of the German text, probably not the same subtext here, though I didn't read very much.

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