Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

September Books 7) Q, by Luther Blissett

This is a novel set between 1518 and 1555, mostly in Germany with excursions to surrounding countries, about a radical Anabaptist and the papal agent who pursues him through the sixteenth century's wars of religion. It has had a lot of attention particularly in Italy ("Luther Blissett" is apparently a pseudonym for four Italian writers) and is seen by some as a metaphor for modern global politics, and/or in the Umberto Eco tradition of The Name of the Rose.

I wasn't completely satisfied with it. I thought that the nameless hero's story of shifting identity and conflict was quite well realised, with lots of grim and effective contemporary detail, even though it wasn't really clear until close to the end that this was going anywhere, but Hilary Mantel pursued a similar idea rather better in Wolf Hall. The Q sub-plot, however, annoyed me; much of it is told in letters ostensibly written by Q to his patron in Rome which totally fail to get the contemporary idiom (and necessarily include much info-dumping); and the final revelation of Q's identity was disappointing.

It was interesting to read this alongside Not of this World? with its rather different framing of Protestant/Catholic relations.

Tags: bookblog 2012

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