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The Dwarf Later Printing Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0374521356
ISBN-10: 0374521352
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Don't miss this. You will not soon find another like it. The evil in the Dwarf's nature is in ours, too--is universal.” ―Dorothy Canfield

About the Author

Pär Lagerkvist, playwright, poet, essayist, and novelist, received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951. The Dwarf, long considered a masterpiece of modern literature, was first published in 1945. Mr. Lagerkvist died in Sweden in 1974.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Later Printing edition (January 1, 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374521352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374521356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes." These are the words of the bold and heartless protagonist of Par Lagerkvist's novel, Dwarf. At only twenty-six inches tall, the dwarf, whose keen insights are described throughout the book, is both a shocking and thought-provoking character, one of the most original in literature. Told from the viewpoint of the dwarf, the book is a study in hatred, for the dwarf is filled with both hatred and rage toward humans and towards his own "detestable" race. A truer nihilist there never was; not even Celine, himself, could have conjured up this much rancour and despair.
The dwarf lives as a servant and confidante to a Prince during the time when the Black Death was effectively wiping out the population of Europe. There occur many instances in this book when the dwarf must commit the most vile and heinous crimes at the behest of the Prince, and the dwarf does so with a relish that is unconscionable. Ultimately, his crimes force him into eternal imprisonment in a fortress dungeon where he spends his days writing daily recordings of the wickedness of his life and hopes to be called again to duty by the Prince.
From the very beginning, the dwarf condemns human beings as "a pack of ingratiating cows" who value such useless things as nobility and beauty and who babble about virtue, honor and chivalry. Believing human beings to be "shrouded in mystery," the dwarf exclaims, "...nothing ever comes up from my inner depths." Nothing but hate, that is.
Despite his vile and repulsive nature, the dwarf is loyal to and respectful of the Prince. His most prevalent views of disgust are engendered by those of his own race and by himself.
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Format: Paperback
"The Dwarf" is the story of a pompous, self-important member of a king's court, some time in the past. He sees himself as a warrior in armor, but is really quite a troublemaker. His king may request a dirty deed of him from time to time (such as a political assassination), but he will take it one or two steps beyond the request (killing a few extra people in the bargain). He also delights in causing chaos in general. For example, the king does not know his daughter the princess is surreptitiously consorting with the prince of a rival kingdom. The dwarf causes great panic and confusion with this information, leading to quite a painful set of events, all to the dwarf's great pleasure. He even manages to turn the queen against her own daughter, driving her into the deepest depths of anguish through his vicious sadism.
The book is permeated with the notion of evil at a distance, and the idea that evil has a mind of its own, never to be controlled by a master, and to be unleashed only at peril. The dwarf is supposedly the king's agent, and may conduct an assassination or two at the king's bidding, but is remote from the king, as if the king were sending a rocket-launched missile to a distant land, and would not feel the consequences of the explosion himself. Unfortunately, the dwarf always manages to cause enough trouble that the king might wish he had not launched his agent in the first place. The rocket always manages to blow back shrapnel, one way or another. Despite orders, the dwarf has his own agenda, arrogant and sadistic, and will interpret his tasks to suit his fashion.
Another attribute of the relationship between king and dwarf is that the dwarf is taken almost as an extension of the king himself.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, in reference to the previous review, the dwarf (NOT jester -- a dwarf and a jester held two very separate positions) was retained by an Italian prince, not a Scandinvian court (where on earth did that come from?). Just had to set the record straight.
Lagerkvist won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1951, and rightfully so. This book is an excellent example of his masterful treatment of the duality of humans and, in particular, their evil side, which the dwarf personifies. It truly makes one think about the "ape-like" man/dwarf within.
The narrative, while purposely biased by the dwarf's extremely negative view of the world and the humans he serves, grips the reader from the beginning as Piccolino (the dwarf) describes himself and the world around him. The secret lives of the courtiers (the Princess, in particular), the wars and battle scenes, the visits to the Prince (to whom the dwarf is a sort of "right-hand man" at times) by condottieri and intellectuals alike, and the dwarf's personal trials and thoughts on these matters are all fascinating, both as a history lesson in disguise and as a look at human nature from a refreshing point of view. Granted, that point of view comes from a man who identifies with Satan himself, but it is interesting, nonetheless.
This book was completely different from anything I've read before and I have been completely taken by it. If you are interested in the duality of humans, God, and nature, in learning more about oneself, or even just the Italian renaissance period, this book is a must-read.
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