GOD'S FOOL: A Biographical Novel of Cagliostro by Andrew Susac

GOD'S FOOL: A Biographical Novel of Cagliostro

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A four-part, four-way mirror on the man whose name to most of us means charlatan, though Susac in the end proclaims him to be ""a man born two centuries before his time, a leader in spirit, welt on his way to Krishna and Buddha and Christ."" Our first dizzying view of Cagliostro is through the frenzied eyes of ""JACQUES SARASIN, HIS DISCIPLE,"" who dashes from a dinner party in turmoil and tears, shocked by ugly rumors about the man who had healed Jacques' mysteriously ailing wife when all others had given up. The second part traces the efforts of gossip editor ""THEVENEAU DE MORANDE, HIS NEMESIS"" to incriminate the Count, and it is through Theveneau that Susac reports the scandalous affair of (Marie Antoinette's) diamond necklace (in which Cagliostro was cleared in court of charges of theft) and of the Count's eventual arrest, on less specific charges, in the Vatican. Through his wife (""SERAFINA, HIS CONSORT"") in part three Susac finally (if chaotically) provides some biographical fragments about this ""Sicilian rakehell"" who ""came from God knows where,"" and finally in ""CAGLIOSTRO, HIS SHELL,"" a purported inside view of the hero during his trial and imprisonment by a Church tribunal, it becomes evident that Susac takes Cagliostro's Egyptian Rite and his seven angels seriously. Unfortunately Susac adopts the Count's theatrical style for his own, and though all this charged grandiloquence does convey the 18th century atmosphere of intrigue and gossip, it serves more to mystify than illuminate the historical subject. This is less biographical novel than impressionistic hagiography, concluding in an apostolic afterword that ""Cagliostro's star, for a century and a half in complete eclipse, is emerging today, and judging from the partial light of its crescent, bids well to posit itself as a luminary of the first magnitude."" But Susac is sure to lose most readers long before this murky prophecy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday