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The Dwarf
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The Dwarf

4.7 7
by Par Lagerkvist, Alexandra Dick (Translator)

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"I have noticed that sometimes I frighten people; what they really fear is themselves. They think it is I who scare them, but it is the dwarf within them, the ape-faced manlike being who sticks up his head from the depths of their souls."

Pär Lagerkvist's richly philosophical novel The Dwarf is an exploration of individual and social identity. The


"I have noticed that sometimes I frighten people; what they really fear is themselves. They think it is I who scare them, but it is the dwarf within them, the ape-faced manlike being who sticks up his head from the depths of their souls."

Pär Lagerkvist's richly philosophical novel The Dwarf is an exploration of individual and social identity. The novel, set in a time when Italian towns feuded over the outcome of the last feud, centers on a social outcast, the court dwarf PIccoline. From his special vantage point Piccoline comments on the court's prurience and on political intrigue as the town is gripped by a siege. Gradually, Piccoline is drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict, and he inspires fear and hate around him as he grows to represent the fascination of the masses with violence.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Don't miss this. You will not soon find another like it. The evil in the Dwarf's nature is in ours, too--is universal.” —Dorothy Canfield

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Pär Lagerkvist, playwright, poet, essayist, and novelist, received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951. The Dwarf, long considered a masterpiece of modern literature, was first published in 1945. Mr. Lagerkvist died in Sweden in 1974.

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Dwarf' begins with 'I am twenty-six inches tall, shapely and well proportioned, my head perhaps a trifle too large.' At once you start seeing things from the dwarf's view point. This allegory is narrated by the dwarf who lives at court of an Italian prince around 1500AD. The dwarf is a symbol for the evil inside the prince as well as the rest of us. He narrates for us the war the prince gets himself into and some evil events at court. At the beginning, before the war, the prince and the people are building a campanile (bell tower), but they have only the base of it done. Carved around the base are 'scenes from the life of the crucified one'. At the conclusion of the novel ,when the dwarf is locked away in the princes dungeon, the prince and people start work back on the canpanile and finish it. The campanile is a symbol for all that is opposite of the evil the dwarf represents. It stands for the heavenly and the good with the crucified one at the foundation. Lagerkvist is a Nobel prize winner and critics regard 'The Dwarf' as his greatest work.
JohnButler More than 1 year ago
John Butler Professor English 1B 11 December 2011 Who is The Dwarf? Piccoline is the protagonist in the award winning novel ¿The Dwarf¿. It was written by renowned Swedish poet, playwright and novelist Pär Lagerkvist, who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in literature shortly after the end of World War II. Lagerkvist¿s novel ¿The Dwarf¿ shows the effects of war on the human psyche in his writings. The character Piccoline embodies much of the anger and hatred that that resides in mankind after experiencing warfare. Piccoline, a dwarf, is short, angry, and just plain mean. The character definitely shows signs of mental instability. He enjoys killing cats and spiting almost everyone he encounters. The story is placed in Italy during the early renaissance and Piccoline is a loyal servant to the prince, which is only one of two characters in the novel that Piccoline doesn¿t exhibit any homicidal tendencies towards. The novel is written in a diary form from Piccoline¿s vantage point. Through his endeavors in the novel, you learn much about the unstable individual that Piccoline is. However, I would classify him as a static character that goes through little to no change throughout the book. The only exception might be when a war campaign is taken on by the prince and Piccoline gets very excited to join in the killing. At a point, Piccoline gets almost aroused at the thought of joining in the action. He states, ¿War is no game to me, but grim reality. I want to fight, I want to kill! Not for the glory of it, but for the deed alone.¿ Unfortunately for Piccoline, the prince won¿t let him partake in the battle due to his pint size stature and this enrages him. The melodramatic rhythm of the writer¿s voice drags on throughout the novel. Thankfully, it is occasionally accented by some dramatic event Piccoline finds himself in. When he found himself in the midst of war you could see the pace of the novel change, pages flew by, splashed with bloodshed. I noticed an energy and purpose in the character of Piccoline. He was more vibrant and less of an introvert. I believe his character is completely bipolar, he exhibits large mood swings, from high highs to low lows. The whole story is said to be an allegory, where the dwarf doesn¿t even exist, he is just a representation of the mean and evil side in all men. He himself is to be the prince¿s dark side. The novel is described as an ¿exploration of individual and social identity.¿ I believe it is greatly influenced by the death and destruction of WWII. However, I don¿t the hidden meaning behind Piccoline¿s character really goes that deep. He is stagnate and unaffected by anything other than the war. However, he is passionate about his hatred towards most people. Throughout the entire novel, Piccoline continuously analyzes and proclaims his hatred for almost everyone around him. He also exhibits some homosexual tendencies, mostly when he confesses his obsession for the great man his prince is, but also towards the only other character he doesn¿t want to kill, the great Boccarossa. When the prince asks Piccoline if he had ever had a love affair, he replies, ¿If I should ever love anybody it would be a man.¿ His homoerotic tendencies make me delve deep into the personality which is Piccoline. He confesses that could love a man, but only a man
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
extremly well wtritten . one of the best books i have ever read it is well written and makes one take a closer look at the evil old face dwarf with in us all... raw and yet suttle on Par's way of making us relize our selves
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Dwarf, is one of those rare novels which holds a mirror to human nature. However, the image reflected is not a perfect one, appearing skewed and distorted like humanity itself. Taking place during the Italian Renaissance, The Dwarf explores both the birth of the modern age as well as the nearly expired middle ages. The protagonist of Lagerkvist's novel is the twisted servant of a powerful Italian prince. Throughout the novel, the dwarf acts out the prince's evil desires, including murder and abhorrent cruelty. Feeding directly from evil and violence, the dwarf represents the darker side of the human soul. The Dwarf is truly Lagerkvist's greatest novel. Every image from beginning to end has been brilliantly warped, creating a reality of an appauling quality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thee is a dwarf in all of us ... and there is no way to vanquish it, as we learn. One must live in harmony with that which has none.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read. For anyone who is interested in the psychological aspects of motive, morality, and guilt this is a must. The dwarf represents man at his most depraved and honest. He enables the will to power.