Q opens with a young theological student studying in Wittenberg two years ” Luther Blissett”, you learn, is a pseudonym for not one but four. Q UK frontcover. Luther Blissett Q romanzo / novela / novel 1a ed. it. 03/ Q is the spy, in the pay of Father Carafa, an ultra conservative figure, rapidly. They all called themselves Luther Blissett and set to raising hell in the cultural The novel Q was written by four Bologna-based members of the LBP as a final.

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For a British public increasingly hooked on its own history, the first half of the 16th century means royal divorce and a fat king’s pragmatic conversion to protestantism.

On mainland Europe, however, the new faith was decidedly more apocalyptic: Luther’s attack on the church spawned ever more radical sects, which spread like a theological contagion through the German states and the Netherlands. By the time the Blisseft emerge, intent on forging God’s kingdom free from clerical interference and with communal ownership and no marriage, the new heresies have become politically insurgent, luter beliefs rooting in the fertile ground of poverty, illiteracy and despair to produce a kind of inchoate early Marxism.


Q opens with a young theological student studying in Wittenberg two years after Luther’s denunciation. Told through the increasingly war-weary voice of the student, an Anabaptist turned mercenary, the novel leaps between towns, dates and battles.

The air is full of blistering debate, revolutionary preaching and the smell of smoke, both from burning icons in the churches and the pyres on which the heretics are burned.

Q (novel) – Wikipedia

Throughout this sprawling epic are scattered letters from the eponymous anti-hero, Q, a spy reporting to his Catholic cardinal master luyher his attempts to infiltrate and betray the Anabaptists from within.

Gradually a wider political conspiracy reveals itself, one in which the heretics are pawns in a chess game of power played out between the Papacy, the German princes and the Holy Roman empire. Bilssett the heretics are early Marxists, their real enemy is burgeoning capitalism: While this is hardly a new reading of history, it’s here that Q starts to show its contemporary hand. The novel arrives in England accompanied by a small truckload of hype; the cover declaring it to be a “thriller, novel of ideas, the cult European bestseller”.

While at one bblissett this puther can only increase your admiration for the book I tried writing thrillers with another writer once, and can testify as to how tough it is to merge style and vision into a convincing single voiceat another it draws attention to their politicisation of history. There are moments, not least in the chapter where the Anabaptists learn how banking works, when it’s hard not to hear the voice of “Teach Yourself Marxism” in the background.


Q by Luther Blissett

Historical novels, of course, are fair game for political interpretation: If Q falters as a novel it is not because of any inherent bias. The problem is that at pages it simply can’t hold bilssett narrative tension. And while there are early sections that are utterly compelling, towards the end, when the fighting gives way to a more traditional contest between the Papacy and the Inquisition, much of the earlier fervency and visceral power bleeds away.

Its denouement, blisstet which Q’s identity is finally revealed, has that slightly sad sense of anticlimax you get from thrillers in which the journey has proved more intoxicating than the destination. As to the authors’ name: No doubt “Calvin Klein” would have been seen as siding with enemy. Sarah Dunant is at the Guardian Hay festival today.