by Stan Verdult
What a splendid novel, really beautiful! I enjoyed it very much. It is an unexpected, unique, successful and credible novel about – yes – the hitherto unknown life of Spinoza: Spinoza in Love by Martin Skogsbeck. [cf. Amazon]
Of all the novels I have read in which Spinoza somehow or other appears, I undoubtedly rate this one as the finest. Its author wishes to fill the gaps of what is unknown about Spinoza’s biography, and does so by revealing his real and most intimate personal life. The reader gets a picture of a Spinoza who actually lived and didn’t just think rationally about life. In this book Spinoza is very different from what Dionijs Burger once wrote in the middle of the 19th century, that he was a man ‘dead for real life’.
At the end of the story, Skogsbeck lets the narrator of the tale, an intimate friend of Spinoza, say “How can anybody aspire to grasp Benito’s ideas without a notion of who he was as a person? In his texts you will discover his wit and rigour, granted. But not the humanity, the passion and the courage.” (p. 350). The passion is well conveyed in this cleverly construed book, and not just in small doses.