Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf by David MadsenIn the intersection of the 15th and 16th centuries, a Dwarf (Big D to show respect) goes from the mean streets of Rome to walk with the giants of that world. Madsen remarkably gives us a tour of Europe, Italy, Rome, the Vatican, the papacy, Gnosticism, side-shows, sex, gore and love - always love. The Inquisition is in bloom and heretics are treated in ways that are described in detail, with questioning normal Christian or Roman Catholic beliefs as well as intimate descriptions of sex or be exposed to visceral scenes. The book is very well written and flows smoothly.
Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf
Not your conventional art-historical view of the Renaissance Pope Leo X, usually perceived as supercultivated, if worldly, patron of Raphael and Michelangelo. Here, he's kin to Robert Nye's earthy, lusty personae of Falstaff and Faust, with Rabelasian verve, both scatological and venereal. Strangely shards of gnostic thought emerge from the dwarf's swampish mind. In any case, the narrative of this novel blisters along with a Blackadderish cunning. The Observer. A pungent historical fiction on a par with Patrick Suskind's Perfume. David Madsen is the pseudonym of a theologian and philosopher.
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These fictional memoirs open immediately with the engaging enough voice of the narrator, Peppe, the dwarf of the title. Earthy descriptions of life in the service of Leo, some laugh-aloud moments too. Having set the scene in Renaissance Italy, Peppe then takes us back to his lowly origins in the back streets of Rome and the hell of his childhood — used and abused by his drunken and whorish mother and despised by humanity in general — until his rescue by the beautiful daughter of a Gnostic patrician and his initiation into the faith, which seems to explain the world from his point of view pretty much perfectly. So, I guess that answers my queries regarding the sensational and erotic episodes that occur with relentless regularity in the first half of the novel. The better known historical characters like Savonarola, the Medicis and the artists of the Renaissance, and the passages of political and military events were easy enough to recognise as fact, other aspects of Renaissance Italy less so.