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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio

by Atle Naess

Before I read this book I imagined it would be an emotional, rumbustious account of Caravaggio's life and times. In fact it is enjoyably understated; an intriguing analysis told in the form of nine witness statements by people who knew him. Raises some interesting questions about the relationship between the holy and the profane, artistic temperament, and the reliability of memory.

Extract

When you study this painting, its lines inevitably draw your gaze to the rough nail which pierces the apostle's left hand and nails it to the cross beam. The difference between Michel and other, less talented painters is simple: the others assert suffering by painting a distorted face or women with tear-filled eyes wringing their hands.

Michel paints the suffering. This is what suffering looks like: a nail through a hand, naked metal through naked flesh. You see, you feel, you have to take hold of your own hand.

Translated by Anne Born

Parallels

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
 

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