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Rembrandt: A Novel by Gladys Schmitt

Rembrandt: A Novel

by Gladys Schmitt

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A novelization of what is known and surmised about Rembrandt's life.
  majackson | Dec 16, 2019 |
This 1961 novel, characterizedon websites as a 'historical fiction', is gripping, moving, and extremely skilled. I assumed it was a biography. Instead, it was told from the interior, psychological viewpoint of the main and secondary characters, with the detail and frankness of the work of D. H. Lawrence. Even assuming thorough and plentiful correspondence from the principals and others, it was obvous no writer could possibly know what indivdual people so far back in time were thinking, saying, and doing all t he time. Thus, no doubt, the web characterizations of 'historical fiction', and my own assignment of the term 'pseudo-biography.' The author could have been a great screenwriter, since they, too, take the basics of lives and create all manner of stories, legends, and myths about them. The writing and its understanding of human nature is BRILLIANT, as brilliant as Lawrence's. Even the descriptions of what people afflicted with heart and lung conditions see, hear, feel, and look like, are stunning. She paints what they see in their minds and their eyes and hear or don't hear anymore. How could she know? Genius knows, or somehow finds out. The story? Oh yes, Rembrandt's alleged life. His relationship w/his family, his wives, his children, his peers, his patrons. His passion for his sex and work; his intolerance of most everything and everyone else. Outwardly not a kind, generous, diplomatic, or nice man, the novel posits that he had a rich interior life full of sensitivity and rueful second thoughts, however belated in time, towards those he used, wronged, or ignored. She paints him as surpremely inarticulate and so thin-skinned and consumed by pride that he rarely could bring himself to be pleasant, patient, diplomatic, or grateful if sufficient obesiance and the self-effacement were not forthcoming from everyone at all times. By novel's end, he's had a major come-uppance in the form of bankruptcy, public shame, and poverty; lost three infants and two wives to disease and death; and lost public favor and respect for his style of painting. He gains some self-awareness, but remains largely intemperate, altho' his sheer frailness eventually somewhat mutes his selfishness and irascibility. The author reconciles him with his tuberculosis-doomed son and daughter-in-law before Rembrandt dies at an advanced age, having outlived most of his family, friends, and enemies. Again, great fiction for a screenplay! Many, many artworks are discussed and described in conception and execution, and one realizes anew what a fecund creative genius he was. ( )
1 vote cserpent | Jan 12, 2009 |
  BKSALLOVER | Feb 6, 2008 |
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