Piranesi's Dream by Gerhard Kopf
A Novel

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A fictional autobiography of the famed eighteenth-century Italian engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Piranesi's Dream draws from fact to imagine the embittered, eccentric, yet fantastically creative mind of this prolific artist. Piranesi, however, is not simply recreated in his time; instead, he travels throughout time and throughout the world, musing over art and aesthetics, attacking his enemies, and ruminating over his thwarted dream of becoming an architect. Appearing in contemporary Australia, in ancient Egypt, and even in Vancouver, Piranesi gives full reign to his dreams and his meditations. He envisions--posthumously--the construction of a great city in the Australian desert. He attacks his contemporary, the critic Johannes Winckelmann, with intense hatred, condemning his admiration of classical Greek architecture. Forced to work as an engraver--the medium in which he created the dungeon and prison scenes he is best known for today--Piranesi labors, embittered and frustrated, always yearning to fulfill himself as an architect. Piranesi's Dream is the story of an artist and of a visionary of ages past and present. In telling Piranesi's story, Kopf has written not only a fictional autobiography but a compelling psychological novel. As Gunter Grass has observed, "Kopf is a born storyteller."

About Gerhard Kopf

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Kopf is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Duisberg in Germany.
Published July 1, 2000 by George Braziller. 252 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The eponymous 18th-century artist, an engraver who dreamed of becoming a great architect, is the metafictional narrator of this quirky, discursive novel by the German author of the equally rarefied There Is No Borges (not reviewed).

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In his personal life, Piranesi is a brooding and spiteful man who rants at turns of fate he believes have ruined his existence: his failure to become a working architect, the burden of his beautiful but faithless wife and, especially, the success of the vastly more influential historian of art an...

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