Saturday 23 March 2024

The Book Collector

De inutilibus libris

Primus in excelsa teneo quod nave rudentes
Stultivagosque sequor comites per flumina vasta
Non ratione vacat certa sensuque latenti.
Congestis etenim stultus confido libellis,
Spem quoque nec parvam collecta volumina praebent.
Calleo nec verbum, nec libri sentio mentem.
Attamen in magno per me servantur honore,
Pulueris et cariem plumatis tergo flabellis.
Ast ubi doctrinae certamen voluitur, inquam,
Aedibus in nostris librorum culta supellex
Eminet. et chartis vivo contentus opertis,
Quas video ignorans, iuvat et me copia sola.
On Useless Books
It is not without good reason and good sense, that I sit in the most conspicuous part of the ship [of fools], and follow my foolish braying companions across the wide oceans. For I am the fool who relies on owning heaps of books, even though possessing such an assembly of books does not in itself supply even a shred of hope. Yet these books are preserved by me in good condition. I wipe off the decay of dust with feather dusters. But when people go on about learning, I say that the collection of books in my house is preeminent. And I live context with the books stowed away where I can see them. Ignorant of their contents, merely possessing a large pile pleases me.
Nina Hartl, Die “Stultifera navis”: Jakob Lochers Übertragung von Sebastian Brants “Narrenschiff”, 2 vols (Münster: Waxmann, 2001), II. pp. 50. My translation.
Book Collector in the Ship of Fools