Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Bookworm (Der Bücherwurm)


I came across this picture mainly years ago and immediately felt an affinity with the subject. It was only some years later that, quite by chance, I learned the title of the picture while on holiday in Shrewsbury – where a copy was hanging in the guesthouse in which we stayed. It is called The Bookworm – or perhaps more accurately 'Der Bücherwurm' since it was painted by the German artist Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) in 1850.

I think it was the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) who is reputed to have said something to the effect that, as a biologist he was more of a bookworm than an earthworm. By this, he appears to have meant that he was not one involved in the hand-dirtying aspects of experimentation but was instead one who was more interested in reading and thinking about the subject.