Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Omnia sunt communia. Q by Luther Blisset – a review.

Q as a whole is a sophisticated and intricate book of politicalintrigue, but this sophistication is not always matched by the style. Itis at times staccato:

“The girl doesn't take her eyes of my face.
Blue eyes. Blond curls dripping with rain.
The lofty indifference of a fairy.
Pure horror.
The instinct to crush her. To kill.
My heart beating like a drum.
They pass on.”


“Dawn. Pewter sky. Thoughts creep beneath sleep and pull away the covers.
Kathleen is asleep, an unbelievable spectacle of hair and mouth and warmbreath.
Get up quietly lest I wake her.”

Descriptions often leave out verbs, reading more like stage directions:“A table hooked to the front wall, two chairs at the sides, a bench nailedto the floor”.

Dialogue can be admirably efficient:“They own a printing press. I've done a deal with them so that I can makeuse of it. I've promised them that they won't have problems with thecensors, we'll have to be careful.” But sometimes it is too efficient:“My name's Matthys, Jan Matthys, a baker from Haarlem”.

But the energy of the novel carries you over such faults (if indeed theyare faults) and it is not all written in the same style. A fight in partthree is described in full, correct sentences (elsewhere there is atendency to drop verbs in descriptions of fights in a not unsuccessfulattempt to convey the confusion and speed of the action). There are alsomore leisurely disquisitions, including that in part 3, chapter 16: “Inthis land that isn't a land colours are forever assaulting the eye” aswell as stirring speeches like Jan Matthys's in Münster: “I am not thecaptain of this war. Not this mouth, these passion-ravaged bones. No. Itis the Lord your God. The one they have always forced you to worship inchurches, on altars, prone before statues”.

Of course it is not beyond the wit of a writer to vary his stylethroughout a 630 page novel, but it might be interesting to bear in mindthat “Luther Blissett” is a flag of convenience or “multi-use pseudonym”for activists all over Europe. Q, though far from polyphony, seems tohave been written by four people based in Bologna. Whoever wrote thebook, he, she or they succeeded in producing a wild, exhilarating accountof a turbulent age.


Yves-Marie Bercé, trans. Joseph Bergin, Revolt and Revolution in EarlyModern Europe: An Essay on the Political History of Violence.
G. R. Elton, Reformation Europe 1517-1559.
V. H. Galbraith, The Anonimalle Chronicle, in A. R. Myers, ed., EnglishHistorical Documents, vol IV, 1327-1485.
A.J. Grant, A History of Europe From 1494 to 1610.

The Wu Ming Foundation (succesor t
o the Luther Blisset Project)

Extract from “Q” from Random House Site

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