Albert and the Whale, by Philip Hoare

Staff Pick

Like the ocean itself, Hoare’s book is a scintillating mix of wonders and surprises. At one level it’s a rich study of the life, work, and times of the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). At another it’s a survey of cetaceans, charting the economic and cultural roles whales have played in a wide range of nations and periods. At yet another it’s a virtuoso performance of associative writing as Hoare expands on the eponymous topics with extended looks at the writing of Herman Melville, Marianne Moore, and Thomas Mann, delves into Dürer’s influence on Goethe and Nietzsche, traces various iterations of the Faust legend, and eulogizes some of the many creatures humans have hunted into extinction. Whether celebrating or lamenting—and the many descriptions of whale slaughters make for painful reading—Hoare’s writing is unfailingly buoyant, his enthusiasm and deep learning lending a certain bioluminescence to the prose; no less than Dürer himself (whose “unity of perception, art, science, and natural history” could describe his own method), Hoare, too, “looks so we can see.”

Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643137261
Availability: Backordered
Published: Pegasus Books - May 4th, 2021