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Home | 2017 | January

Quote and image of the month

Quote of the month

Wilhelm Busch: [ Sahst du das wunderbare Bild von Brouwer? ]

Have you seen that wonderous painting by Brouwer?
It pulls you in, just like a magnet.
You smile, but a shudder of horror
Goes down your spine.

A calm doctor opens an abscess
at the back of a man's neck;
A woman with a jug stands alongside
absorbed in the misfortune.

Yes, old friend, we all have our abscess,
usually behind us. And calmly
Someone else has to burst it. The pus flows,
And strangers watch.


Sahst du das wunderbare Bild von Brouwer?
Es zieht dich an, wie ein Magnet.
Du lächelst wohl, derweil ein Schreckensschauer
Durch deine Wirbelsäule geht.

Ein kühler Dokter öffnet einem Manne
Die Schwäre hinten im Genick;
Daneben steht ein Weib mit einer Kanne,
Vertieft in dieses Mißgeschick.

Ja, alter Freund, wir haben unsre Schwäre
Meist hinten. Und voll Seelenruh
Drückt sie ein andrer auf. Es rinnt die Zähre,
Und fremde Leute sehen zu.

Wilhelm Busch: Werke. Hist.-krit. Gesamtausgabe, Ed. Friedrich Bohne. 4 vols., Wiesbaden: Vollmer, 1968. Vol. 2, p. 515. Online at Zeno.
By the time Wilhelm Busch published his verse collection Kritik des Herzens 'Criticism of the Heart' in 1874 he had established an enormous reputation and readership as a talented illustrator and writer of jovial pieces such as Max und Moritz, Die fromme Helene, 'The pious Helene', and Fipps der Affe, 'Fipps the Monkey'. His readership never really got used to the serious Busch, who presents us here with a masterful metaphoric reading of Brouwer's painting.

Image of the month

Adriaen Brouwer (1606?-1638), 'Die Operation am Rücken', c. 1636

Adriaen Brouwer (1606?-1638), Die Operation am Rücken 'The Operation on the Back', c. 1636. Image: ©Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main