12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2004
This slim volume from Swedish author Lagerkvist is a masterful exploration of evil and alienation. The setting is a Renaissance court somewhere in Europe, where the dwarf of the title plots and schemes for his master. He is a truly grotesque creature: Machiavellian, sadistic, delusional. Still, Lagerkvist manages to make the reader empathise with this little outsider, reviled and ridiculed since birth. We all want to make an impression on the world, he seems to say, being ignored is the worst punishment... In the words of another Swedish writer, Hjalmar Söderberg: "We want to be loved, failing that respected, failing that loathed and feared. The soul abhors a vacuum, and longs for contact at any price."
In Sweden, Lagerkvist is equally famous as a poet, and the lyrical symbolism of his writing is always evident in "The Dwarf". It's a sinister book, but also a very compelling one. Don't bring it with you to the beach, but do pick it up when you feel the urge for something both substantial and very readable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a very fun and interesting historical novel that takes place at the transition point from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance in the Italian princedoms. The narrator is a superstitious and ignorant dwarf, a kind of bitter jester at the court, who is sometimes puzzled by his observations of the changes underway. He is full of hatred and suppressed violence and, in my view, wholly unsympathetic. Not only is the intellectual revolution of the period viewed from a skewed perspective, but the system of petty princes is magnified in all its savagery.
The novel makes for a fascinating read, a wonderful and deeply textured view from the underside. Recommended with enthusiasm.