BEING CARAVAGGIO by Margreet Hofland (original titlle: Het genie van Rome)
On a stormy winter’s day in 1571, the Marchesa di Caravaggio’s chambermaid, newly wed, is raped by a stranger while traveling to Milan. Nine months later she gives birth to a son in whose features she recognizes those of the man who begot him: a handsome face smoldering with demonic passion.
Four centuries later, the Dutchman Lucas Antheunissen discovers that he is the spitting image of the famous Italian artist Caravaggio, the “genius of Rome”. But it isn’t just a physical thing: his life, too, bears more than a passing resemblance to Caravaggio’s. When he visits Italy, Lucas discovers that he too has a real talent for painting.
Eline, his girlfriend, observes Lucas withdrawing more and more from her and from the world, and wonders if Lucas’ conviction that he is related to the great painter might be more than just an obsession. Lucas can’t help himself; something draws him, it seems, to follow the same path Caravaggio carved out generations ago — a life of enormous talent, fame, intrigue, murder and hopeless love.
translated by: Hester Velmans
usually start off cautiously. With a short story collection for instance,
or a novella. But not so in the case of the publishing house In de Knipscheer.
HET GENIE VAN ROME (Being Caravaggio) is a 550-page novel by Margreet
Hofland that interweaves the life of the master painter Caravaggio with
contemporary characters. So Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)
is given a 20th-Century counterpart in the person of Lucas Antheunissen,
a fictional descendant of the master of chiaroscuro. The author paints
a colorful and nuanced portrait of the prematurely deceased master painter
and his times. Caravaggio comes to life so brilliantly in this novel
that one wonders if Hofland might not simply have written a straightforward
historical novel about his life. Hofland has succeeded in turning it
into a riveting story.
first novel alternates between the 20th Century (1951-1985) and the
16th-Century world of Caravaggio. This lively tale will appeal especially
to lovers of Italian Renaissance art. A colorful debut.
A captivating formula, the concept especially. A book in which the storylines flow together seamlessly, and in which the past and the present are ingeniously woven into a satisfying whole, making for a most enjoyable read.
novel, thriller and travelogue all rolled into one. A very readable
biography in the form of an absorbing novel. Delightful.