This text is especially connected to the depiction of the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in the 16th century and presently displayed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
The picturebook explores the theme of hubris — a man develops mechanical wings, Icarus-like, and carries them through the city of Babel to its highest heights. From there, he leaps, and the visual narratives cuts to a glossy, full-page reproduction of Bruegel’s famous painting. On the next page, the sequence returns to black and white illustrations as we see the man soar off into the sky, only to tumble down to earth on the final page.
The picturebook is a great way to open up a discussion of many important, and indeed divisive, topics: the role of religion in art and culture, the various ways that the story of Babel is interpreted, the story of Icarus, the role of canon. Of course, the work can also be used to consider the wordless picturebook as a form — the paintings of Bruegel are credited as a key source of inspiration for the wimmelbooks that mark the beginnings of the form in the mid-to-late twentieth century in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The text contains a direct reference to the Tower of Babel from the Old Testament and hence contains Biblical imagery and themes.