Caravaggio by Christopher Peachment
A Novel

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My sight was always good. But color now takes on even greater riches. I no longer need the bright blues and reds, which I did so delight in when I was young. I see a hundred times more beauty now in a dark brown, or the pale tints of quiet flesh. Or a ray of light across a fur or a beaten earth floor or a suit of black armor. Such colors do not distract the eye, but rather let it concentrate on my forte, the human face. There I will have my theater, there my drama, there my applause.

Peachment’s imagined Caravaggio, while still a child, overhears his parents discussing one of his sketches, and realizes he has a talent that sets him apart from the world. He leaves family and home forever to map out a solitary traveler’s life. Caravaggio became a revolutionary of his time, a rebellious and dangerous man to know, a man governed by his genius, his indiscriminate sexual appetite, and his murderous rage. He was sought far and wide in the late Renaissance world for his art, and there was a price on his head for at least one murder. This is Caravaggio’s confession, told in humorous, blasphemous, often brutal prose, which cleverly beguiles the reader into understanding the art that was so celebrated and the life that caused so much outrage.

Peachment’s Caravaggio is a gripping story of one man’s determination to grapple with the truth as he journeys through Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily, encounters lovers and enemies, endures madness, exile, and imprisonment, and faces a final showdown with the Vatican Secret Service. His account is poignant and spirited. It is an adventurous and thoroughly enthralling insight into the mind of a creative genius and the violent world that inspired his paintings.

About Christopher Peachment

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Christopher Peachment worked as a stage manager at the Royal Court and many other theatres after a stint as a pilot. He then turned to journalism. In the 1980s, he was film editor for Time Out magazine, later becoming Deputy Literary Editor and Arts Editor for the Times. He has written on film, literature, art, opera, and ballet. This is his first novel, and it was inspired by a woman portrait painter showing him Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter in Rome twenty years ago. He lives in Hoxton, London in England and is currently writing a novel about Andrew Marvell and the Earl of Rochester.
Published February 8, 2002 by Picador. 304 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Michelangelo Merisi (later Caravaggio) never did get on with his parents (“For how can it be that two stupid people can give birth to a child more intelligent than they?”), so it’s a good thing he’s in Milan, where the most important things are fencing and sex with anything.

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