Tag Archives: Dürer

01. Orbis Tertius | 1. I hear a new world | d. Dog days are over iii.

iii. Encountering his friend Janine Dakyns, a scholar of Flaubert, surrounded by books and papers, WGS is reminded of the angel in Dürer’s Melencolia I, “steadfast among the instruments of destruction…”.¹ In the engraving the afflicted angel, gloomy as a mountain, sits amid an array of tools and implements such as might be used by architects (for whom, incidentally, Saint Thomas is patron saint) and cartographers. In a fleeting moment of inspiration she seems to have picked up a pair of compasses — perhaps with the intention of drafting a world — but the inertia has since set in and it is all she can do to stare broodingly out to sea. One might imagine the blank globe at her feet to be a part of the project — maybe it is the same globe Dürer had Fortuna switch for her usual wheel in Nemesis (the Great Fortune).


¹ WG Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, 1995.