The Fables of Ulrich Bonerius (ca. 1350): Masterwork of Late Medieval Didactic Literature
Serendipitously, at around the same time as Boccaccio published his famous Decameron (1350), the Swiss-German Dominican Ulrich Bonerius published his highly popular collection of fables, The Gemstone. Both authors pursued very similar goals, instructing their audiences about vices and virtues, Boccaccio by telling entertaining, often erotic tales, Bonerius by relating didactic tales, mostly based on animals as the active characters. This book provides the first English translation of all one hundred fables authored by Bonerius. Bonerius drew mostly from the classical Aesopian tradition, and his Gemstone in turn became the crucial source for vast fable collections in the late Middle Ages, and again in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In fact, the famous Grimm brothers included some of his narratives in their fairy tale collection of The Gemstone 1812. Not only was Bonerius an excellent poet, he also understood the depth of human nature exceedingly well, warning about many of people’s shortcomings and failures.
Dr Albrecht Classen is University Distinguished Professor of German Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Arizona, where he researches and teaches medieval and early modern European literature and culture. He has published close to 110 scholarly books and around 730 articles. He is the editor of the journals Mediaevistik and Humanities, and is the former President of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association and the Arizona Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. He has received numerous awards for his teaching, research, and service, including the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band from the German government in 2004. Most recently, in 2017, the rank of Grand Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Three Lions was bestowed upon him by the Duke of Swabia, and, in 2020, he received the German Academic Exchange Excellence Award in International Exchange.
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