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7 The Album Αmicorum and the Kaleidoscope of the Self: Notes on the Friendship Book of Jacob Heyblocq

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Chapter Summary

The analogy between a book and one's consciousness has a distinguished pedigree in the Western literary canon. This chapter explores some of the modes of self-inscription in the most remarkable friendship books created in seventeenth century Holland, the album amicorum of Jacob Heyblocq. The importance of friendship in the humanist culture is memorably invoked in another famous album amicorum of this period: 'Learning is the daughter of Labor, Culture of Learning, Friendship of Culture. The idea of the simplex imago inevitably calls to mind the related notion of the friend as a living mirror of one's own consciousness. The best-known visual restatement of this ideal within the genre of alba amicorum is arguably the self-portrait that Otto van Veen draws on the first page of his own book of mementoes. The meaning of Van Veen's self-portrait in a mirror is elucidated by his emblem-devises in the Amorum Emblemata of 1608.

Keywords: album amicorum; Amorum Emblemata; friendship; humanist culture; Jacob Heyblocq; seventeenth century Holland



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