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Review by Dionysos Thriambos

Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf
by David Madsen

Dedalus Ltd
February 1998
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 of art.