Regular price $16.00

Tax included.
by Pär Lagerkvist

Written in 1944

The main character is a dwarf, 66 centimetres (26 in) tall, at the court of an Italian City-state in the Renaissance. The exact time and location are unclear, but the presence of the character named Bernardo, who is unmistakably modeled on Leonardo da Vinci, suggests that the story takes place in a fictional version of Milan around the time of Leonardo's stay at the court of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, from 1482 to 1499. There is a reference to Santa Croce being in the immediate surroundings, but this is possibly mixed up with the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, so the story could actually be set in Florence. At the same time, Lagerkvist includes Bernardo/Leonardo's creation of The Last Supper and Mona Lisa in the plot, which were done in Milan and Florence, respectively. Further, the prince that inspired Niccolò Machiavelli to write The Prince has been assumed to be Cesare Borgia, who also employed Leonardo da Vinci as a military architect, a role he (as Bernardo) plays alongside his painting work in The Dwarf. In this way aspects of all these historical places and people are mixed into the background of the novel.

The dwarf is the narrator, obviously obsessed with writing down his experiences in a form of diary. Everything in the novel is described from his viewpoint, mostly in retrospect, ranging from a few hours or minutes to several weeks or months after the actual events.