In February, the Lost & Found Book Group will read Nobelist Par Lagerkvist's vitriolic and masterful "The Dwarf", set during the Italian Renaissance. The novel, published in 1944, is presented as a diary penned by Piccoline, the misanthropic dwarf of the title. It features characters based on Leonardo da Vinci and the late 15th century Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, as well as Cesare Borgia, the prince in whose court Piccoline serves. (He was also the inspiration for Machiavelli's "The Prince".) The novel's setting is ambiguous but it is obviously a synthesis of Milan and Florence, as Bernardo (the da Vinci stand-in) is working on paintings at the Duke's court that evoke the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper respectively. What distinguishes this short parable from the usual historical novel is the voice of the dwarf. He personifies evil and is a master of hyper-articulate invective. In lyrical and deadly prose, with undertones of macabre humor, he abhors nearly every man and woman in the court (except, for the most part, the prince) and he delights in telling us why. This audacious narrator reserves his admiration for very few things but they include sick brutality, war on a grand scale, tradition, however outmoded it may be, and immutable positions; change he cannot abide. For all that he is deplorable, though, he is a thoroughly compelling character whom Lagerkvist employs to represent man's basest impulses. This is a swift, shocking little book with an an almost perfect denouement; there is much to talk about here so please join us for our Zoom meeting on February 25, 2021! Feel free to enjoy an adult beverage during the discussion. We look forward to seeing you!