Review by Dionysos Thriambos
by David Madsen
Paperback, 336 pgs
Surprisingly and delightfully, this novel is exactly what the title promises.
Set in the early 16th century e.v., it consists of the memoirs of a dwarf serving
as a chamberlain in the court of Leo X, the Medici pope. The book recounts
his rescue from his impoverished origins by a post-Catharist Gnostic underground,
and his subsequent involvement in various intrigues. The rituals of the Gnostic
Brotherhood are beautifully rendered and worthwhile reading in their own right.
Everything in the text, including vivid episodes of carnality, spirituality,
and atrocity, seems calculated to illustrate the philosophical premises of
the Gnostic creed embraced by the narrator.
E.G.C. members will find that the historical aspects of the story provide
a context for our Gnostic saints Alexander VI and Ulrich von Hutten—both
of whom are the subjects of incidental and unflattering references.
The publisher notes that “Madsen” is the nom de plume of a religious
scholar who specializes in studies of Gnosticism. The author has clearly taken
on the literary mode in order to give play to his most detailed speculations
about Gnostic continuation, and has in the process created a marvelous piece