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The White Crucifixion, A novel about Marc Chagall, by Michael Dean
The White Crucifixion starts with Chagall’s difficult birth in Vitebsk 1887, in the present-day
Belarus, and tells the surprising story of how the eldest son of a herring schlepper became
enrolled in art school where he quickly gained a reputation. The novel paints a vivid picture of a Russian town divided by belief and wealth, rumours of pogroms never far away, yet bustling with talented young artists. Click To Tweet
In 1913 Chagall relished the opportunity to move to Paris to take up residence in the artist
colony ‘The Hive’ (La Ruche). The Yiddish-speaking artists (École Juive) living there were
all poor, yet many of its artists were to become famous, among them Amedeo Modigliani,
Chaim Soutine and Osip Zadkine.
In 1914 Chagall and his wife Bella made what was supposed to be a fleeting visit to his
beloved Vitebsk, only to be trapped there by the outbreak of the First World War, the
subsequent Russian revolution and the establishment of the communist regime, which was
increasingly hostile towards artists like Chagall.
Yet Chagall kept on painting, and the novel provides a fascinating account of what inspired
some of his greatest work. He eventually managed to return to France, only to be thwarted by
another world war, which proved disastrous for the people he knew in Vitebsk, the people in
his paintings, including his uncle Neuch, the original ‘fiddler on the roof’.
‘Good news for fans of the brilliant but enigmatic artist, Marc Chagall: this impeccably researched
novel will illuminate the dark corners of his turbulent life.’ – Jane Harris
‘Dean’s shimmering palette of prose brings the world and work of Chagall to vivid,
engrossing life.’ – E.M. Powell
‘Brilliantly and evocatively written’ – Patricia O’Reilly
‘A portrait of a century of upheaval and a life full of courage and colour.’ – Jenny Barden
Michael Dean has a history degree from Worcester
College, Oxford, an MSc in Applied Linguistics from
Edinburgh University and a translator’s qualification (AIL)
His novels are The Crooked Cross (Quaestor, 2000,
2009); Thorn, about Spinoza and Rembrandt (Bluemoose
Books, 2011); Magic City, a Bildungsroman (Odyssey
Press, new edition 2017); and I, Hogarth (DuckworthOverlook,
2012), which set out to unify Hogarth’s life with
He has also written three e-books for Endeavour Press: The
Enemy Within (2013), about Jewish resistance in the
Netherlands in World War II; Hour Zero (2014);
and Before the Darknesss (2015), about Walther
Notes for editors
Holland Park Press is a privately owned publisher of literary fiction and poetry. It specializes in
contemporary English fiction & poetry, translations of Dutch classics and modern Dutch fiction &
poetry in English and Dutch.
All enquiries to Bernadette Jansen op de Haar, publisher, Holland Park Press
Postal address: 46 Baskerville, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 9BS, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7792611929 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributed in the USA by SPD http://www.spdbooks.org, contact Brent Cunningham (email)
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