Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Heretic: A Novel of the Inquisition by Miguel Delibes

If there is one characteristic symbol that sparked the great German Protestant Reformation, it is that of Martin Luther nailing his Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. Appalled by the conviction of purchasing God's pardon for sins, Luther's determined defense of his 95 Theses, which he was willing to debate, led to an investigation by the Roman Catholic Church. His principles were reviled and he was excommunicated in January 1521.

Readers familiar with the Protestant Reformation and the Spanish Inquisition will find the beginning and end of Miguel Delibes' novel The Heretic to their taste. The opening Prelude, set in 1557, begins the book with the title character, Cipriano Salcedo, returning from Germany. He was to meet with Luther's friend and supporter Phillip Melanchthon and other leaders of the reform church and bring back outlawed books.

What follows is not a continuation of this story. Instead, Delibes takes us back to the beginning. We follow Cipriano's birth, childhood and career before heresy and the Inquisition are mentioned again after almost 300 pages. This in-between story takes place in the Spanish city of Valladolid, where the author was born in 1920 and to which the novel is dedicated.

You can find the review here

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