From Library Journal
Kauffmann (Black Room at Longwood), a foreign correspondent who was imprisoned in Beirut from 1985 to 1988, here meditates on Delacroix's Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, a mural in the church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris. In his winding search for the place of humankind in the eternal battle of good and evil, Kauffmann consults a cast of characters associated with the church and the painting who offer their views on what the painting means to them. The symbolism gets a little heavyhanded and even repetitive, and some discussion of the artist is based on speculation. But the poignancy of this work comes to the fore when the reader realizes that this isn't art history at all but rather a memoir-of a church, of the biblical Jacob, and of the author, who tries to come to terms with his time as a prisoner in Beirut: "It was not a painter's secret that I was trying to discover, but the secret of another man who one day found himself in the kingdom of darkness." Here Kauffmann's insight is profound, and his connections from church to artist to humankind to his own life flourish. Recommended for libraries where there is an interest in memoir, France, and Delacroix.Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH
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