Christopher Peachment, Author . St. Martin's/ Dunne $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-31448-4

Caravaggio was one of the most audacious painters of the Renaissance; his dark, brooding canvases, with their violent portrayals of biblical themes, are unsettling even today. In this first novel, Peachment, a British writer with a background in theater and journalism, argues that Caravaggio the man was also audacious: a foul-mouthed hedonist with unrestrained sexual appetites. Claustrophobic and bloody, the novel presents a keen portrait of a bawdy, rage-filled man whose talent flourished despite the dangerous circumstances of his life. Peachment eschews background historical detail to focus on brutal executions, murders and sexual escapades, depicted in the raw. The artist narrates events with unflinching immediacy; typical chapters begin with lines like "They burned Bruno, and I watched it" or "I killed him on a Sunday afternoon late into May." Given Peachment's emphasis, any insight into Caravaggio's art or "painterly" description in creating the setting is secondary to the exploration of the artist's personality. The novel is meant to be read as Caravaggio's confession on the verge of death, and the final entries describe his murder by agents of the Vatican. Written in blunt and direct prose, the novel brings the artist to life with the brio of an adventure story. The result is a harrowing, engrossing read. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-330-48732-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4668-6351-4
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