Luther Blissett (Roberto Bui/Giovanni Cattabriga/Federico Guglielmi/Luca Di Meo)


Book, 22.2 x 16 cm, 635 p, language: English, publisher: William Heinemann (The Random House Group Limited), ISBN: 0-434-01000-6.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/681).

Literary synopsis

Q is a novel by Luther Blissett first published in Italian in 1999. The novel is set in Europe during the 16th century, and deals with Protestant reformation movements. The book follows the journey of an Anabaptist radical across Europe in the first half of the 16th century as he joins in various movements and uprisings that come as a result of the Protestant reformation. The book spans 30 years as he is pursued by 'Q' (short for "Qoèlet"), a spy for the Roman Catholic Church cardinal Giovanni Pietro Carafa. The main character, who changes many names during the story, first fights in the German Peasants' War beside Thomas Müntzer, then is in Münster's siege, during the Münster Rebellion, and some years later, in Venice. Throughout Europe, several critics have read Q from a political point of view, and maintain that the novel is an allegory of European society after the decline of the 1960s and 1970s protest movements. As in the 16th century, the Counter-Reformation repressed any alternative theological current or radical social movement, and the Peace of Augsburg sanctioned the partition of the continent among Catholic and Protestant powers, so the last twenty years of the 20th century were marked by a vengeful rebirth of conservative ideologies, and the International Monetary Fund-driven corporate globalization of the economy seemed to rout any resistance. This interpretation stems from the authors themselves describing Q as a "handbook of survival skills", which might cast a revealing light on the book's ending.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

While the folk heroes of the early-modern period and the nineteenth century served a variety of social and political purposes, the Luther Blissett Project were able to utilize the media and communication strategies unavailable to their predecessors. According to Marco Deseriis, the main purpose of the Luther Blissett Project was to create "a folk hero of the information society" whereby knowledge workers and immaterial workers could organize and recognize themselves. Thus, rather than being understood only as a media prankster and culture jammer, Luther Blissett became a positive mythic figure that was supposed to embody the very process of community and cross-media storytelling.

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