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The Heretic: A Novel of the Inquisition Hardcover – May 4, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; First Edition edition (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585675709
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585675708
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,885,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winner of the 1999 Spanish literary prize, the Premio Nacional de Narrative, Delibes's assured historical novel takes place in the Spanish city of Valladolid, where Cipriano Salcedo is born on October 31, 1517, the same day Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Deprived of his mother, who dies shortly after childbirth, and alienated from his self-absorbed father, Cipriano grows up a wealthy bourgeois tormented by an overly acute conscience. He marries Teodomira, an earthy daughter of a sheep farmer who ultimately suffers a pitiful fate. After meeting theologians Agustín, Pedro Cazalla and Don Carlos de Seso, Cipriano converts to Lutheranism and quickly becomes a leading member of the local underground Protestant Reformation, working to win other converts and even traveling to Germany for the movement. When the Inquisition arrests a sect member, the entire group—including Cipriano—is exposed and all are arrested. Delibes (The Hedge, etc.) weaves an engrossing tapestry of historical and theological minutiae, but the character of Cipriano is an allegorical, everyman figure. The real protagonist of this novel is the 16th-century incarnation of the author's hometown, Valladolid, which he recreates in lucid detail. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Winner of the Premio Nacional de Narrative, Spain's most prestigious literary prize, this novel seeks to illuminate the Spanish Inquisition through the story of one man. Cipriano Salcedo, born on the same day in 1517 that Luther posts his theses, is loved only by his wet nurse (his father blames him for his mother's death after childbirth) but becomes a man of wealth and status in his native Valladolid, his adult life marred only by his failed marriage. Seeking moral perfection, he listens to clergy who accept Luther's doctrines, meets secretly with other "new Christians," and undertakes a dangerous mission to Germany to see Reformers and buy Lutheran books. The novel opens with a prelude of Salcedo's return from Germany, picking up chronologically at the last chapter, as arrests of group members begin. However, the prelude is short of background for the reader; together with the extensive use of dialogue instead of narrative and the sheer level of detail, this dilutes the drama of the story. Dense with historical fact and figures; impressive but limitedly compelling. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Weinstein on August 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
As another reviewer noted, the publisher of this translation couldn't even bother to proofread the finished product. The fact that even a casual reader can find countless typographical errors is, unfortunately, one of the few interesting things about this book. Delibes came highly recommended to me; perhaps one has to read him in the original.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those supposedly profound novels that people tend to praise without actually reading it. This historical non-epic might feature attractive prose in its original Spanish, and maybe Miguel Delibes hit the jackpot with the plodding melodrama and attempted big statements that old-school critics adore. Delibes obviously strove to paint a portrait of life in 16th century Spain, but he does so in an annoyingly snobbish manner. There is little effective use of any potentially interesting history (including the supposed centerpiece of the story - the Inquisition), and the characters are shallow and stereotypical, down to the caricatured servants and working classes, while only the noble classes in this medieval society are given any humanity or dignity. And those two qualities barely even apply to the two main characters - a father and son who spend the first half of the novel indulging in ugly perversions while still attaining great success, despite their reprehensible behavior and belief in their entitled positions. The main point of the story - the son's conversion to the then-underground Reformation movement, doesn't come until halfway through the novel. Later, the Inquisition is only used as a backdrop for an interminably boring and melodramatic "climax" which consists mostly of shallow self-reflection by the protagonist, whose religious conversion and imprisonment were previously laid out in such a bland and verbose fashion that the reader cares little about his predictable soul-searching.

This average novel is docked one more star due to an atrocious translation and publication process.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Berengaria on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
THE HERETIC by Manuel Delibes

I saw a review of this book in the New York Times, and it seemed quite interesting and different, since most of what has been written about the Spanish Inquisition is connected to the Jewish people. My native tongue is Spanish, so I bought a copy in that language. Frankly, I found the book slow, boring, and the language is too descriptive in an uninteresting way. I hope that Mr. Alfred MacAdam's translation into English improved the pace and general feeling of it. I give this book only one star and only for the effort that went into the research to write it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By NYCGram (Liz) on February 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree the translation was sloppy and distracting but found the story interesting and different. I also bought the book based on the Times review which really should have noted the shortcomings in the translation and spelling. Worth reading, I think.
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