In its quest for converts medieval Christendom locked itself into a vicious interpretive circle, pressing unbelievers to join the Christian community and then suspecting them for doing so. Such suspicion drove the Inquisition. An Inquisition whose torture machinery grinds on century after century, as if each execution laid the ground for another, represents a closed system alien to a literary form, the novel, whose English name suggests "the new." As befits a form set in "the present day with all its inconclusiveness," the novel offers a medium in which uncertainty can flourish. In the novel uncertainty is not an intolerable anomaly introduced by converts practicing an ancestral religion in secret, but a condition of human life.