Wordless Novel (no fooling)

To follow-up on my recent post about Lynd Ward’s wordless novels, I would like to introduce the German wordless novel, Die Sonne (the Sun), created by Franz Masereel (1889-1972), and published originally in 1919. This copy was re-issued in 1926 by Kurt Wolff Verlag in Munich. 

Die Sonne is one of Masereel’s early wordless novels, composed of 63 woodcuts. The story is based on Greek myth of Icarus. It begins with a wood engraver who has fallen asleep at his desk, and then  he dreams about  a little man. The man attempts to approach the sun in various ways, but he keeps failing, and other people interrupt him by attacking him and locking him up, or distracting him with women and alcohol. As the man finally touches the sun, he is ignited and falls back to the artist’s desk in flames, startling the artist awake.

Franz Masereel was born in Belgium and worked in France and Germany. He is  best known for his woodcuts produced at the time of the revival of the woodcut by the German Expressionists in the early twentieth century. He is also well-known as the inventor of the wordless novel and created 20 publications. The original American wordless novelist, Lynd Ward,  was introduced to Masereel’s Die Sonne when he was living in Germany for a year to attend at the National Academy of Graphic Arts and Bookmaking. Ward was heavily influenced by this publication and started to create wordless novels of his own after returning home.


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