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Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf (Contemporary English Language Fiction) [Kindle Edition]

Madsen David
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dedalus specialises in fiction that could roughly be classified as gothic or arcane - or indeed gnostic. First published in 1995, this one immediately caught readers' imaginations and has since become something of a contemporary classic. It has a cute frame opening (' It is not necessary for me to relate precisely how these memoirs fell into my hands...' ) and an ugly, if memorable opening proper, reminiscent of the start of Earthly Powers: ' This morning his Holiness summoned me to read from St Augustine, while the physician applied unguents and salves to his suppurating arse...' The rest is freakish couplings, religious sects, torture: a cracking read for all ages, then. Giles Foden in The Guardian

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Madsen is the pseudonym of a philosopher, theologian, therapist and author who has always had a special interest in the esoteric, the oblique and the heterodox byways of the human psyche. His first novel, Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf, partially sprang from Madsen's enthusiasm for Gnosticism, which he had the opportunity of studying in Rome for several years; Memoirs won great critical acclaim and has been translated into eleven languages. It was followed by Confessions of a Flesh-Eater, Confessions of a Flesh-Eater Cookbook and, most recently, A Box of Dreams, all published by Dedalus Books. He has also collaborated on film scripts. David Madsen has been interviewed by several well-known periodicals and literary magazines, including The New Statesman, Spoiled Ink and Venue; he has also been the subject of articles and interviews in newspapers and journals from countries as diverse as Lithuania and Brazil.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1732 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dedalus Limited (October 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007JWX3VU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,580 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Medieval November 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In 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.

There is no product description here or on the book. There isn't one at the publisher's site either - but they do have several reviews posted there (dedalusbooks). I won't copy from the reviews of others, so do read those.

The Inquisition is in bloom and heretics are treated in ways that are described in detail. If you do not like questioning normal Christian or Roman Catholic beliefs - you will not like this book. If you do not want to read intimate descriptions of sex or be exposed to visceral scenes, then run from this one.

Madsen has put together the darnedest bunch of characters I've ever seen combined into one book. The depth to which he takes us into their lives and world is amazing. I was further amazed by the characters I was rooting for and those I was disliking immensely.

Given the setting, time period and subject, it is obligatory that we meet certain famous artists; certain famous folks of religious history and those intimately involved in the machinations of the powerful of that age. The book is filled with dark humor, and I absolutely refuse to reveal the passages that had me laughing out loud (and there were many).

The book is very well written and flows smoothly. Though some of the subject matter is shocking, Madsen does not resort to excess drama. All is told, with great results, in straightforward style.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lively Romp Through Renaissance Italy August 20, 2012
This is a hard novel to categorize. It's part historical fiction, part tragic-comedy, part treatise on gnostic thought, and it's part historical lecture on European renaissance-era religion and politics. But somehow it works.

In essence, "Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf" is a story of the mysticism of Gnostic thought, orbiting around the interesting and sometimes madcap reign of Pope Leo X, Giovanni de Medici. Peppe (the dwarf) serves as narrator by providing glimpses of his youth, his introduction to Gnosticism, love, and education, which ultimately lands him in a circus, and then the 'court' of Leo X (itself not an actual circus, though one could make that arguement based on Peppe's descriptions).

Peppe is more tragic than comic. He ruminates on his physically painful youth (did I mention he has a rather large hump on his back?) "In the beginning was the pain, and the pain was with me, and the pain was me. It constituted the entirety of my burgeoning consciousness."

And one can't help but make comparisons to George R.R. Martin's own tortured dwarf, Tyrion Lannister. Peppe's mother, in a drunken fit, says, "God knows, I should have suffocated you at birth." Peppe responds in his narrative, "There was a time when I would have wholeheartedly agreed with this; now, however, I am rather glad that she did not suffocate me at birth. Strange, isn't it, how one can always learn to love oneself, however ghastly one is?"

Madsen displays a large and complex vocabulary which dually proves the literate nature of the writer as well as the value of having an e-reader with a built-in dictionary. His writing is big, bold and vividly descriptive.

In one particularly expressive scene, Peppe's only love is tortured for heresy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The funky 1500's June 9, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great read- bawdy, perverse, vivid, bloody, scatological, Gnostic, an Italian Renaissance "Nightmare Alley", freaks, cruelty, and Vatican politics. What more could a reader want? I admire the author's efforts at creating a plausible underground Gnostic faith. The conclusion however left me unsatisfied being a forced "beauty & the beast" symbolism which simply does not mesh with the gnostic nihilism of the rest of the novel.

After reading this you will understand the history as to why Italy changes governments more frequently than any nation in the West.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely over the top June 21, 2003
The very first scene is so completely over the top, I was immediately hooked. I read it straight through. Strange and quirky writing, many an unexpected turn, circuses, wrestling matches, sex, drama, all that stuff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I find authors who use the memoir approach, and direct references to the reader, rarely works and this novel falls short of a good read. The back cover had lots of praise from the English Press but sometimes I am dubious of their praise as I have often found later that the author is a journalist for one of the English papers too.
This novel had potential, Leo X, a rumoured gay pope, an historically tumultuous time and when Raphael, Michelangelo and Da Vinci were also enlightening the world.
However, whilst the writing was often enjoyable and the plot interesting, the novel failed to take off, a little like Da Vinci's aeroplane theories mentioned in the book.
The memoir dragged as the reader became less and less interested in the Gnostic Dwarf's life and sadly the Epilogue was just too ridiculous to be credible and left the reader cheated by a ho-hum much used historically cliched ending
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Kinky
Published 5 days ago by Robert Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong start, weak finish
If you'd like to read a novel written entirely from the point of view of Tyrion Lannister, this may be as close as you can come. The beginning is witty, dirty, and deliciously fun. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Katharine Tree
3.0 out of 5 stars Challenging
I thought this was a good historical fiction work, and it kept me interested. My only complaint was that the author uses far to many obscure words. Read more
Published 16 months ago by AbbeyOMy
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex not needed
Sick of the Sex stuff.
It got to the point where I was sick of hearing about his sexual desires
Published 23 months ago by Arveda Kirk
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to expectations.
I felt as if I was stuck in a loop, with only slight variations on a theme.

I don't know if the author was trying to offend, but in places it was tacky, not enough to... Read more
Published on May 19, 2013 by Steve Salter
4.0 out of 5 stars Raunchy, yet beguiling, elegant but occasionally tedious
Reading MEMOIRS OF A GNOSTIC DWARF made me think of "The Uncle Charles Principle." This is when an author slips out of his omniscient view as he writes, and instead adopts the view... Read more
Published on April 27, 2013 by Ken Korczak
5.0 out of 5 stars Gnostic Dwarf
This was a fascinating book. It certainly gives one an alternate view of life at the Vatican during the middle ages.
Published on April 4, 2013 by Donna Nagely
4.0 out of 5 stars History that leads into today
The author did a great deal of research before starting this journey and takes us into the back streets of Italy as well as into the golden rooms of the Vatican. Read more
Published on April 3, 2013 by Betty Bee Searles
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't finish this one
Once in a while I come across a book that I just cannot finish reading. This is one of those. Too intellectual? To obtuse? Definitely very crude. Read more
Published on April 2, 2013 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and challenging, except for the ending
I echo the cautions of other reviewers - get this book on Kindle or have a dictionary handy (I recommend the Kindle). Read more
Published on March 17, 2013 by C. Gaffney
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