Leonardo's Judas

Leo Perutz, Author, Eric Mosbacher, Translator Arcade Publishing $16.45 (154p) ISBN 978-1-55970-002-3
Inaugurating the fiction line of this new imprint, this spare but evocative novel marks the first of the Czech author's works to be introduced here. His 11th book, it was completed in 1957 shortly before his death. Set in Milan in 1498, it describes Leonardo da Vinci's search for a model to portray Judas in his masterpiece, The Last Supper. ``It was pride,'' says Leonardo, summing up both Judas's sin and the theme of the book, ``that made him betray his love.'' Da Vinci is depicted here as a compassionate, abstracted genius--a fact fully appreciated by those around him. Against the intrigue of court politics unfolds another, smaller, pathetic drama. Joachim Behaim, a German merchant, comes to Milan to collect an old debt from a miserly moneylender named Boccetta. He falls in love with a mysterious young woman, only to learn that she is Boccetta's daughter. His animus at being cheated is stronger than his love, and he tricks the woman into stealing his money back, inadvertently causing the death of an innocent man. Leonardo has now found his model. Perutz's crisp, well-paced prose makes this modest, somewhat stagey novel an absorbing read. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Hardcover - 154 pages - 978-0-00-271468-6
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