“The Man Who Seduced the Mona Lisa” a work by Dionigi Cristian Lentini, a professor from the province of Taranto (Apulia), is an intriguing and innovative concentration of genres (historical, philosophical, narrative, adventure, educational) and has something original about it. And this originality can be felt immediately, right from the first chapter, both in style and plot.
First of all, the author, on the strength of careful historiographical and philological research, pays careful attention to details, describing them in rich, detailed, refined language. But predominantly, the classical setting, the refined taste in terms, the meticulous descriptions of clothes, courses, and fighting techniques, represent the scenographic basis from which the extraordinary progressive and transgressive vision of the protagonist, constantly outside his time but at the same time perfectly integrated into it, comes to life.
This complicated dualism, moreover, totally reflects the historical context of the novel, straddling Humanism and the Renaissance, between dogmas, conventions, legacies of the past and the flourishing of the arts, the birth of modern sciences, a newfound thirst for knowledge, and a renewed search for truth.
The road that leads the protagonist to the truth is the same road that the author, through his protagonist, travels to lead the reader to himself, that is, to seduce him (lat. “se ducere”) with all his art. After all, as Lentini himself states, “Seduction is an art, but all art is seduction. Seduction is a spell … just as every art is a spell of seduction.”
The prologue is an already tried-and-true literary device that starts in the present day and takes the reader beyond the lions of time.
In fact, the story opens with a private chat message (perhaps a whatsapp, who knows) that Francesca, a journalist for a local newspaper, sends to Claudio, a 40-year-old precarious researcher at the CNR in Pisa, an expert in cryptography and blockchain, sent by his “pain-in-the-ass” professor to manage an IT intervention in a Tuscan abbey that recently suffered a hacker attack. That’s how Claudio discovers in an encrypted file the incredible story of the man who seduced the Mona Lisa.
The search for Truth that the protagonist faces throughout the second half of the book is full of compelling, almost cinematic twists and turns.
” […] fate commissioned him with the most important undertaking: to discover who he really was. […]To do so he had to seduce the one who, indecipherably immortalized by Leonardo, seduced the world with her gaze.”
The reflection on Man, History, Destiny and Truth itself contained in the ending-which of course I will not reveal- lends itself in my opinion to several keys of interpretation whose key-ring is in the reader’s hands alone.
“The Man Who Seduced the Mona Lisa” is a book that I suggest to all those who love beautiful writing, to history and philosophy enthusiasts, to incurable romantics, to connoisseurs and admirers of the arts, not just those of the art of seduction; in short, without a shadow of a doubt, a piece of writing that deserves to be read.