Thursday, 4 August 2011

Portrait of a Man with a Book, about 1524

By Francesco Mazzola,
called Parmigianino (1503 – 1540)
I've searched everywhere for this legendary book. In all the great libraries of Rome, Athens and China. Whenever I could gain employment in the library of a noble house, I was there, offering my services.

Now I have stumbled across it here in this miserable place. In this rainy English market town, hidden in the unused library of a brainless aristocrat. Too stupid to understand the treasure he possessed.

At last in my hands The Secrets of Alchemy. The turning of base metal into gold. I shall possess great wealth beyond my dreams. All I have to do is escape with this treasure. They'll never notice it missing: most of the books here are left rotting.

It has cost me everything to find. I have lost my precious Parma estate with its wonderful orchards and fine wine. My beloved wife of noble birth and family. All my wealth and honour. And almost my very mind.

Now it is in my hands what is the secret? That wonderful secret of the ancients. Nothing. Nothing I have not already read a thousand times. Nothing that I have not tried and has proved a dismal failure. My whole life's work is over, it is in ruins.

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