Fiction Luther Blissett Q

ISBN 13: 9780151010639

Q

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9780151010639: Q

1517 Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy, known mysteriously as "Q." In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic-hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each others' identities becomes a mission that can only end in death.

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Review:

The story of Q begins with the mystery surrounding the author(s). Luther Blissett, the "author" of Q is the name of a Jamaican soccer player who played for AC Milan in the early l980s. He was victimized by Italian fans, whose racist and nasty comments caused his career to take a dive. This hapless fellow inspired a group of Italian artists to appropriate his name and attach it to all manner of projects. There are Luther Blissetts writing, drawing, and carrying out elaborate hoaxes all over the world. Four young Italians in Bologna wrote Q in the mid 1990s. It remains a bestseller in Italy and has become a cult hit throughout Europe.

Q is set at the time of the Reformation. After Luther hangs his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church, nothing is ever the same in the hallowed halls of Christianity. One of the sects which sprang up during the Reformation was the Anabaptists, Christians who discredited infant baptism and believed that the Bible was the only rule for faith and life. Q follows the adventures of a student of Thomas Munzer, Anabaptist and leader of the abortive Peasants' Revolt of 1524-25, who goes under many names, the first of which is Gustav Metzger, and Q, a papal informer. These two travel throughout Europe, trying to suss out each other's identity, sending letters to Munzer and to the Pope, making friends and enemies, hating each other's deeply felt convictions. Metzger is staying one step ahead of the heretic hunters, bent on destroying all supporters of Luther.

The translation is rickety, at best. There are long, sonorous passages filled with the formal language of the times, and then a jarring change to modern slang. "On the point of death they all denied everything that had been extorted from them with torture: small consolation, and I don't know how many were able to die in peace because of it... It was November or December 1531, around the time Lienhard Jost kicked the bucket." There is a tremendous amount of scholarship contained in the novel and the blend of fact and fiction allows room for intrigue, politics, betrayal, and that ever-familiar conundrum of terror in the name of religion. At over 750 pages, it requires a great deal of patience and attention on the part of the reader, not all of which is richly rewarded. A final cavil: Wittenberg is misspelled in the jacket copy. --Valerie Ryan

Book Description:

Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2004, 0-15-101063-3

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