Two Short Stories: Renaissance Hijinks and a Nova Scotia Legend

Agostino Ramelli's 16th-century book wheel

Agostino Ramelli’s 16th-century book wheel.

If you are looking for some light reading to add to your digital book wheel I have two short stories for you featuring woodworkers.

The first story, from 15th-century Italy, is “La novella del grasso legnajuolo” (The Story of the Fat Woodworker). The story was discovered by Andrea, a farmer and woodworker, from Cremona. In September he featured the story on his blog.

Brunelleschi & Donatello

“The Story of the Fat Woodworker” involves the antics of Renaissance luminaries Brunelleschi, Donatello and the unfortunate Manetto Ammanatini, known as Il Grasso. I prefer to call him merely robusto.

Manetto Ammanatini

Manetto Ammanatini

Andrea was able to locate several copies of the story published between 1485 and 1856 and, as he pointed out, the 1485 copy has a nice woodcut with a low workbench.

If you would like to read the 1820 Italian version featuring the illustration of Manetto clicca qui.

There is also an English translation from UC-Santa Barbara, about 20 pages long, and you can find it here.

The second short story is about the chairmaker Gilbert Nickerson, known as the Old Chairmaker, of Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Gilbert Nickerson

Gilbert Nickerson

“The Old Chairmaker” was written by Evelyn M. Richardson and was published in the Dalhousie Review, Volume 27, Issue 1 in 1947. You can find the story here and it is 8 pages long.

To visit Andrea’s blog, L’angolo di spoglia inferior, and read his comments in Italian and English, clicca qui.

Andrea, grazie per la tua scorperta!

Suzanne Ellison

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14 Responses to Two Short Stories: Renaissance Hijinks and a Nova Scotia Legend

  1. bearkatwood says:

    There is a deep lust there to find that which has been lost and it shows in every post, article and book. I cannot even begin to explain how thankful I am for the work you are doing. There is so much you have made available to the common idiot like me that I just want to tell you thanks saucyindexer and others at LOP that make this all happen.and you suck, this post is crap….. don’t want this compliment to go to your head,so “thanks ********” probably would have been the best psychologically but I want be more sophisticated than that. Thanks. Brian

  2. Jeff Hanna says:

    This is great! Hope you don’t mind, I used the story about the chairmaker as a post on our company’s website (I run a reclaimed lumber company). We often debate how long people have been reclaiming wood; my guess is it has been going on since man has been manipulating wood as a resource. How did you come by this article?

    • saucyindexer says:

      A few weeks ago while looking for something else I came across the pdf of “The Old Chairmaker”and held it until I had a chance to get the reference information from Dalhousie Review and find a photo of Gilbert Nickerson.

  3. So sorry for the first commentator’s language…we don’t need this added to our ever increasing vulgar world. That said, the wonderful book reading wheel is housed in a room filled with books. Note the many dead-bolts on the door…valuable books they are. Reminds me of a friend while I was living in Rome who had 6 locks on his apartment door. Didn’t help much as the thieves cut through the soft lava tuffa stone wall surrounding the door and then just pushed the door in flat on the floor to rob him of his valuable books.
    At the Wisconsin State Historical Society on the U of Wis. campus in Madison there is a large wooden book reading machine c. 1860 or so. I think John Muir built it while a student at UofW. Thanks for this…it makes my day.
    Richard O. Byrne

  4. Yea, Nova Scotia!! Good to see our little Province represent.

    • saucyindexer says:

      “From narrow provinces/of fish and bread and tea,/home of the long tides/where the bay leaves the sea/twice a day and takes/the herrings long rides…”

  5. Kansas John says:

    Thanks for that post.
    Ross King wrote a great book a few years ago called Brunelleschi’s Dome.
    It gives some interesting insight on the politics of the time between the guilds and the powers that be.

    • colsdave says:

      Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of Earth” is an interesting look at the mid-12th century version of this in England in novel form. Vastly different than his usual thrillers.
      Highly recommended to those interested in historical fiction.

  6. hiscarpentry says:

    ‘Brunelleschi’s Dome’ is a fantastic read for those interested building in the renaissance

  7. Hi, thanks for this post. It’s wonderful reading. May I repost illustrations if I give LOP as the source?

  8. Why is it I see typos as I press post comment? That’s LAP of course!

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