Humour in Word and Image

  • Rudolf M. Dekker


The sixteenth century witnessed a steady growth in the volume of printed works in Dutch as the Republic became a centre for book production and the book trade. The number of printers quadrupled to reach the figure of 247 in the first half of the seventeenth century. More than half of them were based in Amsterdam.1 They printed almanacs, songs, novels, religious tracts, plays, text books, travel accounts, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. There was an expanding market for all this printed material because an increasing number of the Dutch could read. In 1630 more than half of the male population and one-third of the female population were literate to some degree, as can be concluded from the signatures in marriage registers in Amsterdam. There are other signs that the country had a relatively high level of literacy too. The theologian Voetius, for instance, considered that anyone who could not read should be read to from the bible by a neighbour.2 He must have been confident that there would be someone who could read in the immediate neighbourhood of every illiterate. Of course, Voetius was aware that the neighbours might be asked to read from other books too, which is why he warned against almanacs and similar frivolous material.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Book Trade Dutch Translation 
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Copyright information

© Rudolf M. Dekker 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf M. Dekker
    • 1
  1. 1.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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