The Dwarf by Par Lagerkvist

dwarf Shazam! The 1951 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature created one malevolent son of gun. Amongst a pack of back stabbers, one man stands above all at 26-inches tall. Piccoline, the Court dwarf. He cuts off beloved kitten’s heads, kills rival dwarves, loathes young lovers, wants the riff-raff (especially poets) beaten and poison’s his master unsuspecting frenemies…throwing in those he doesn’t care for for free.

At moments this is a fun book, especially when he throws an extra poisoning in, but this study of good and evil does not fulfill. The Dwarf works for a Renaissance Italian Prince who funds many artists and intellectuals, and while associating with that lot is, to The Dwarf, despicable, it is the excepted norm for a great prince. Therefore, he holds his tiny nose and tolerates his Prince’s behavior, because he knows the time when his Prince needs him will come. When there is a dirty job to be done, he is the man, errr…the dwarf to do it and he does it with aplomb. In his view, evils bubble up in people and he is there to act on it for them.

The reader does expect the converse to occur, i.e., goodness to bubble up in the Dwarf, but alas, that never materializes. One can’t be sure that it would have improved the book if it did, but the reader does trend that way, which makes the book’s ending a smidge surprising and fruitless.

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