The young Jeroen van Aken – who, as a master, would dub himself Hieronymus Bosch – grew up in an era characterised by its fear of witches and devils and in which the fate of those suspected by the Church was to be burnt at the stake. He was connected by a profound – and, in the eyes of society, indecent – love to his older Sister Herberta, who introduced him to the subtleties and techniques of painting. Bosch befriended alchemists, philosophers and freethinkers, through whom he learned of the existence of ‘Ecco Homo’, the secret brotherhood of the free spirit, which would later provide the inspiration for his masterpiece, ›The Garden of Earthly Delight‹. However, the underlying ridicule of the Church and the authorities evident in his work proved to be a thorn in the side for many, and for one person in particular: the inquisitor and fanatic Jakob Sprenger, the »devil in a monk’s habit«. Aleyt van der Meervenne, Bosch’s cultured and powerful wife, was forced to bring all of her influence to bear to protect his life. Based on little-known facts and a wealth of supposition, John Vermeulen brings this extraordinary artist back to life. His intention is not to solve the riddles presented by the artist’s oeuvre, but to let himself be guided by its influence on his imagination. The result is a compact, riveting and sensuous novel with refined dialogue and scene-changes worthy of a film – and, of course, the wonderful art descriptions that vividly recreate Bosch’s work before the reader’s eyes.
»There is a certain kind of book in which people always seems to have their nose buried; and then, turning to you with a fervent look in their eyes, they exclaim, ‘You just HAVE to read this!’ ›The Garden of Earthly Delight‹ is such a book.«Norddeutscher Rundfunk
»A remarkable fictional biography. Based on the limited available facts and a wealth of supposition, a complete picture of the man, his work and his times emerges, a novel with a riveting plot, down-to-earth, graphic and yet extremely sensitive, adorned with magnificent and accessible descriptions of Bosch’s art.«Kölnische Rundschau