Foucault's Pendulum

( 69 )


Bored with their work, three Milanese editors cook up "the Plan," a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. This produces a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled—a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum. But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real, and when occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their ...

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Bored with their work, three Milanese editors cook up "the Plan," a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. This produces a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled—a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum. But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real, and when occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their quest to gain control of the earth.

Orchestrating these and other diverse characters into his multilayered semiotic adventure, Eco has created a superb cerebral entertainment.

Three clever editors have spent too much time reviewing crackpot manuscripts. On a lark, the editors begin randomly feeding bits of knowledge into an incredible computer capable of inventing connections between all their entries. What they believe they are creating is a lazy game--until the game takes over.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An intellectual adventure story, as sensational, thrilling, and packed with arcana as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Count of Monte Cristo."—THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

"Endlessly diverting . . . Even more intricate and absorbing than his international bestseller The Name of the Rose."—TIME

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If a copy often unread of The Name of the Rose on the coffee table was a badge of intellectual superiority in 1983, Eco's second novel--also an intellectual blockbuster--should prove more accessible. This complex psychological thriller chronicles the development of a literary joke that plunges its perpetrators into deadly peril. The narrator, Casaubon, an expert on the medieval Knights Templars, and two editors working in a branch of a vanity press publishing house in Milan, are told about a purported coded message revealing a secret plan set in motion by the Knights Templars centuries ago when the society was forced underground. As a lark, the three decide to invent a history of the occult tying a variety of phenomena to the mysterious machinations of the Order. Feeding their inspirations into a computer, they become obsessed with their story, dreaming up links between the Templars and just about every occult manifestation throughout history, and predicting that culmination of the Templars' scheme to take over the world is close at hand. The plan becomes real to them--and eventually to the mysterious They, who want the information the trio has ``discovered.'' Dense, packed with meaning, often startlingly provocative, the novel is a mixture of metaphysical meditation, detective story, computer handbook, introduction to physics and philosophy, historical survey, mathematical puzzle, compendium of religious and cultural mythology, guide to the Torah Hebrew, rather than Latin contributes to the puzzle here, but is restricted mainly to chapter headings, reference manual to the occult, the hermetic mysteries, the Rosicrucians, the Jesuits, the Freemasons-- ad infinitum . The narrative eventually becomes heavy with the accumulated weight of data and supposition, and overwrought with implication, and its climax may leave readers underwhelmed. Until that point, however, this is an intriguing cerebral exercise in which Eco slyly suggests that intellectual arrogance can come to no good end.
Library Journal
Eco, an Italian philosopher and bestselling novelist, is a great polymathic fabulist in the tradition of Swift, Voltaire, Joyce, and Borges. The Name of the Rose, which sold 50 million copies worldwide, is an experimental medieval whodunit set in a monastic library. In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate heresy among the monks in an Italian abbey; a series of bizarre murders overshadows the mission. Within the mystery is a tale of books, librarians, patrons, censorship, and the search for truth in a period of tension between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. The book became a hit despite some obscure passages and allusions. This deftly abridged version, ably performed by Theodore Bikel, retains the genius of the original but is far more accessible.

Foucault's Pendulum, Eco's second novel, is a bit irritating. The plot consists of three Milan editors who concoct a series on the occult for an unscrupulous publishing house that Eco ridicules mercilessly. The work details medieval phenomena including the Knights Templar, an ancient order with a scheme to dominate the world. Unfortunately, few listeners will make sense of this failed thriller. -- James Dudley, Copiague, New York

San Francisco Chronicle
As brilliant and quirky as The Name of the Rose, as mischievous and wide-raning....A virtuoso performance.
New York Times Books of the Century
...[A]n intellectual triumph.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156032971
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/5/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 195,566
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco

UMBERTO ECO is the author of five novels and numerous essay collections, including The Name of the Rose, The Prague Cemetery, and Inventing the Enemy. He received Italy's highest literary award, the Premio Strega, was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government, and is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Back in the 1970s, long before the cyberpunk era or the Internet boom, an Italian academic was dissecting the elements of codes, information exchange and mass communication. Umberto Eco, chair of semiotics at the University of Bologna, developed a widely influential theory that continues to inform studies in linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies and critical theory.

Most readers, however, had never heard of him before the 1980 publication of The Name of the Rose, a mystery novel set in medieval Italy. Dense with historical and literary allusions, the book was a surprise international hit, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. Its popularity got an additional boost when it was made into a Hollywood movie starring Sean Connery. Eco followed his first bestseller with another, Foucault's Pendulum, an intellectual thriller that interweaves semiotic theory with a twisty tale of occult texts and world conspiracy.

Since then, Eco has shifted topics and genres with protean agility, producing fiction, academic texts, criticism, humor columns and children's books. As a culture critic, his interests encompass everything from comic books to computer operating systems, and he punctures avant-garde elitism and mass-media vacuity with equal glee.

More recently, Eco has ventured into a new field: ethics. Belief or Nonbelief? is a thoughtful exchange of letters on religion and ethics between Eco and Carlo Maria Martini, the Roman Catholic cardinal of Milan; Five Moral Pieces is a timely exploration of the concept of justice in an increasingly borderless world.

Eco also continues to write books on language, literature and semiotics for both popular and academic audiences. His efforts have netted him a pile of honorary degrees, the French Legion of Honor, and a place among the most widely read and discussed thinkers of our time.

Good To Know

Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, though in 2002 he was at Oxford University as a visiting lecturer. He has also taught at several top universities in the U.S., including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern.

Pressured by his father to become a lawyer, Eco studied law at the University of Turn before abandoning that course (against his father's wishes) and pursuing medieval philosophy and literature.

His studies led naturally to the setting of The Name of the Rose in the medieval period. The original tentative title was Murder in the Abbey.

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    1. Hometown:
      Bologna, Italy
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 5, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Alessandria, Italy
    1. Education:
      Ph.D., University of Turin, 1954

Read an Excerpt

That was when I saw the Pendulum.
 The sphere, hanging from a long wire set into the ceiling of the choir, swayed back and forth with isochronal majesty.
 I knew—but anyone could have sensed it in the magic of that serene breathing—that the period was governed by the square root of the length of the wire and by p, that number which, however irrational to sublunar minds, through a higher rationality binds the circumference and diameter of all possible circles. The time it took the sphere to swing from end to end was determined by an arcane conspiracy between the most timeless of measures: the singularity of the point of suspension, the duality of the plane’s dimensions, the triadic beginning of p, the secret quadratic nature of the root, and the unnumbered perfection of the circle itself.
 I also knew that a magnetic device centered in the floor beneath issued its command to a cylinder hidden in the heart of the sphere, thus assuring continual motion. This device, far from interfering with the law of the Pendulum, in fact permitted its manifestation, for in a vacuum any object hanging from a weightless and unstretchable wire free of air resistance and friction will oscillate for eternity.
The copper sphere gave off pale, shifting glints as it was struck by the last rays of the sun that came through the great stained-glass windows. Were its tip to graze, as it had in the past, a layer of damp sand spread on the floor of the choir, each swing would make a light furrow, and the furrows, changing direction imperceptibly, would widen to form a breach, a groove with radial symmetry—like the outline of a mandala or pentaculum, a star, a mystic rose. No, more a tale recorded on an expanse of desert, in tracks left by countless caravans of nomads, a story of slow, millennial migrations, like those of the people of Atlantis when they left the continent of Mu and roamed, stubbornly, compactly, from Tasmania to Greenland, from Capricorn to Cancer, from Prince Edward Island to the Svalbards. The tip retraced, narrated anew in compressed time what they had done between one ice age and another, and perhaps were doing still, those couriers of the Masters. Perhaps the tip grazed Agarttha, the center of the world, as it journeyed from Samoa to Novaya Zemlya. And I sensed that a single pattern united Avalon, beyond the north wind, to the southern desert where lies the enigma of Ayers Rock.
At that moment of four in the afternoon of June 23, the Pendulum was slowing at one end of its swing, then falling back lazily toward the center, regaining speed along the way, slashing confidently through the hidden parallelogram of forces that were its destiny.
Had I remained there despite the passage of the hours, to stare at that bird’s head, that spear’s tip, that obverse helmet, as it traced its diagonals in the void, grazing the opposing points of its astigmatic circumference, I would have fallen victim to an illusion: that the Pendulum’s plane of oscillation had gone full circle, had returned to its starting point in thirty-two hours, describing an ellipse that rotated around its center at a speed proportional to the sine of its latitude. What would its rotation have been had it hung instead from the dome of Solomon’s Temple? Perhaps the Knights had tried it there, too. Perhaps the solution, the final meaning, would have been no different. Perhaps the abbey church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs was the true Temple. In any case, the experiment would work perfectly only at the Pole, the one place where the Pendulum, on the earth’s extended axis, would complete its cycle in twenty-four hours.
 But this deviation from the Law, which the Law took into account, this violation of the rule did not make the marvel any less marvelous. I knew the earth was rotating, and I with it, and Saint-Martin-des-Champs and all Paris with me, and that together we were rotating beneath the Pendulum, whose own plane never changed direction, because up there, along the infinite extrapolation of its wire beyond the choir ceiling, up toward the most distant galaxies, lay the Only Fixed Point in the universe, eternally unmoving.
 So it was not so much the earth to which I addressed my gaze but the heavens, where the mystery of absolute immobility was celebrated. The Pendulum told me that, as everything moved—earth, solar system, nebulae and black holes, all the children of the great cosmic expansion—one single point stood still: a pivot, bolt, or hook around which the universe could move. And I was now taking part in that supreme experience. I, too, moved with the all, but I could see the One, the Rock, the Guarantee, the luminous mist that is not body, that has no shape, weight, quantity, or quality, that does not see or hear, that cannot be sensed, that is in no place, in no time, and is not soul, intelligence, imagination, opinion, number, order, or measure. Neither darkness nor light, neither error nor truth.
I was roused by a listless exchange between a boy who wore glasses and a girl who unfortunately did not.
 “It’s Foucault’s Pendulum,” he was saying. “First tried out in a cellar in 1851, then shown at the Observatoire, and later under the dome of the Panthéon with a wire sixty-seven meters long and a sphere weighing twenty-eight kilos. Since 1855 it’s been here, in a smaller version, hanging from that hole in the middle of the rib.”
 “What does it do? Just hang there?”
 “It proves the rotation of the earth. Since the point of suspension doesn’t move . . .”
 “Why doesn’t it move?”
 “Well, because a point . . . the central point, I mean, the one right in the middle of all the points you see . . . it’s a geometric point; you can’t see it because it has no dimension, and if something has no dimension, it can’t move, not right or left, not up or down. So it doesn’t rotate with the earth. You understand? It can’t even rotate around itself. There is no ‘itself.’”
 “But the earth turns.”
 “The earth turns, but the point doesn’t. That’s how it is. Just take my word for it.”
 “I guess it’s the Pendulum’s business.”
 Idiot. Above her head was the only stable place in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum’s business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off—he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter—their first and last encounter—with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?
I watched with reverence and fear. In that instant I was convinced that Jacopo Belbo was right. What he told me about the Pendulum I had attributed to esthetic raving, to the shapeless cancer taking gradual shape in his soul, transforming the game into reality without his realizing it. But if he was right about the Pendulum, perhaps all the rest was true as well: the Plan, the Universal Plot. And in that case I had been right to come here, on the eve of the summer solstice. Jacopo Belbo was not crazy; he had simply, through his game, hit upon the truth.
 But the fact is that it doesn’t take long for the experience of the Numinous to unhinge the mind.
 I tried then to shift my gaze. I followed the curve that rose from the capitals of the semicircle of columns and ran along the ribs of the vault toward the key, mirroring the mystery of the ogive, that supreme static hypocrisy which rests on an absence, making the columns believe that they are thrusting the great ribs upward and the ribs believe that they are holding the columns down, the vault being both all and nothing, at once cause and effect. But I realized that to neglect the Pendulum that hung from the vault while admiring the vault itself was like becoming drunk at the stream instead of drinking at the source.
 The choir of Saint-Martin-des-Champs existed only so that, by virtue of the Law, the Pendulum could exist; and the Pendulum existed so that the choir could exist. You cannot escape one infinite, I told myself, by fleeing to another; you cannot escape the revelation of the identical by taking refuge in the illusion of the multiple.
Still unable to take my eyes from the key of the vault, I retreated, step by step, for I had learned the path by heart in the few minutes I had been there. Great metal tortoises filed past me on either side, imposing enough to signal their presence at the corner of my eyes. I fell back along the nave toward the front entrance, and again those menacing prehistoric birds of wire and rotting canvas loomed over me, evil dragonflies that some secret power had hung from the ceiling of the nave. I saw them as sapiential metaphors, far more meaningful than their didactic pretext. A swarm of Jurassic insects and reptiles, allegory of the long terrestrial migrations the Pendulum was tracing, aimed at me like angry archons with their long archeopterix-beaks: the planes of Bréguet, Blériot, Esnault, and the helicopter of Dufaux.

A signed first edition of this book has been privately printed by The Franklin Library.

Copyright © 1988 Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri Bompiani
Sonzogno Etas S.p.A., Milano.
English translation copyright © 1989 by Harcourt, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
1. When the light of the infinite   
2. Wee haue divers curious Clocks  
3. In hanc utilitatem clementes angeli   
4. He who attempts to penetrate into the Rose Garden   
5. And begin by combining this name   
6. Judá León se dio a permutaciones   
7. Do not expect too much of the end of the world   
8. Having come from the light and from the gods   
9. In his right hand he held a golden trumpet   
10. And finally nothing is cabalistically inferred   
11. His sterility was infinite   
12. Sub umbra alarum tuarum   
13. Li frere, li mestre du Temple   
14. He, if asked, would also confess to killing Our Lord   
15. I will go and fetch you help from the Comte d’Anjou   
16. He had been in the order only nine months   
17. And thus did the knights of the Temple vanish   
18. A mass terrifyingly riddled with fissures and caverns   
19. The Order has never ceased to exist, not for a moment   
20. Invisible center, the sovereign who must reawaken   
21. The Graal . . . is a weight so heavy   
22. The knights wanted to face no further questions   
23. The analogy of opposites   
24. Sauvez la faible Aischa   
25. These mysterious initiates   
26. All the traditions of the earth   
27. One day, saying that he had known Pontius Pilate   
28. There is a body that enfolds the whole of the world   
29. Simply because they change and hide their names   
30. And the famous confraternity of the Rosy Cross   
31. The majority were in reality only Rosicrucians   
32. Valentiniani per ambiguitates bilingues   
33. The visions are white, blue, white, pale red   
34. Beydelus, Demeymes, Adulex   
35. I’ mi son Lia   
36. Yet one caution let me give   
37. Whoever reflects on four things   
38. Prince of Babylon, Knight of the Black Cross   
39. Doctor of the Planispheres, Hermetic Philosopher   
40. Cowards die many times before their deaths   
41. Daath is situated at the point where the abyss   
42. We are all in agreement, whatever we say   
43. People who meet on the street   
44. Invoke the forces   
45. And from this springs the extraordinary question   
46. You will approach the frog several times   
47. The sense alert and the memory clear   
48. The volume of the Great Pyramid in cubic inches   
49. A spiritual knighthood of initiates   
50. For I am the first and the last   
51. When therefore a Great Cabalist   
52. A colossal chessboard that extends beneath the earth   
53. Unable to control destinies on earth openly   
54. The prince of darkness   
55. I call a theatre   
56. He began playing his shining trumpet   
57. On every third tree a lantern   
58. Alchemy, however, is a chaste prostitute   
59. And if such monsters are generated   
60. Poor idiot!   
61. The Golden Fleece is guarded   
62. We consider societies druidic if   
63. What does the fish remind you of?   
64. To dream of living in an unknown city   
65. The frame was twenty foot square   
66. If our hypothesis is correct   
67. Da Rosa, nada digamos agora   
68. Let your garments be white   
69. Elles deviennent le Diable   
70. Let us remember the secret references   
71. We do not even know with certainty   
72. Nos inuisibles pretendus   
73. Another curious case   
74. Though his will be good   
75. The initiates are at the edge of that path   
76. Dilettantism   
77. This herb is called Devilbane   
78. Surely this monstrous hybrid   
79. He opened his coffer   
80. When White arrives   
81. They could explode the whole surface of our planet   
82. The earth is a magnetic body   
83. A map is not the territory   
84. Following the plans of Verulam   
85. Phileas Fogg. A name that is also a signature   
86. It was to them that Eiffel turned   
87. It is a remarkable coincidence   
88. Templarism is Jesuitism   
89. In the bosom of the deepest darkness   
90. All the outrages attributed to the Templars   
91. How well you have unmasked those infernal sects   
92. With all the power and terror of Satan   
93. Whereas we stay in the wings   
94. En avoit-il le moindre soupçon?   
95. Namely the Jewish Cabalists   
96. A cover is always necessary   
97. I am that I am   
98. Its racist gnosis, its rites and initiations   
99. Guenonism plus armored divisions   
100. I declare the earth is hollow   
101. Qui operatur in Cabala   
102. A very thick and high wall   
103. Your secret name shall have 36 letters   
104. These texts are not addressed to common mortals   
105. Delirat lingua, labat mens   
106. List No. 5   
107. Dost thou see yon black dog?   
108. Are there several Powers at work?   
109. Saint-Germain . . . very polished and witty   
110. They mistook the movements and walked backward   
111. C’est une leçon par la suite   
112. Four our Ordinances and Rites   
113. Our cause is a secret   
114. The ideal pendulum   
115. If the eye could see the demons   
116. Je voudrais être la tour   
117. Madness has an enormous pavilion   
118. The conspiracy theory of society   
119. The garland of the trumpet was set afire   
120. They hold for certain that they are in the light   

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 69 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 69 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Brilliant, but not for everyone

    This book has been described as the "thinking man's Da Vinci Code." Eco's writing generally, and this novel especially, is extremely deep, sophisticated, and intellectually involved. Thus, it's not for everyone: no thrilling sex, murder, and intrigue. Eco draws from the works of Jorge Luis Borges, which I recommend for some background into the intellectual workings of this novel. For example, there is much underlying discussion of various "secret" societies that strain to utilize all manner of tenuous conspiracy theories, historical shortcuts, and intellectual assumptions that cause fantastic conclusions, which in turn leads to the groups' sense of self-prophised legitimacy (or even preceived omniscience). Borges' writing alludes to this only vaguely, whereas Eco is much more specific, developing this idea and applying it to modern "secret" societies and conspiracy theories. <BR/><BR/>Again, reader be warned: this novel takes much effort, multiple readings, and contemplation to fully appreciate. You will see right away that Eco does not think highly of "Da Vinci Code" conspiracy theories, but much more though-provoking is whether Eco (or the narrator) believes in any creative or faith-based believe systems at all. For example, a principal character in the novel utilizes the BASIC computer programming language to produce "poetry." Does this character, the narrator, or the novel thus imply that creative works such as poetry are so easily contrived and devoid of deeper meaning? I'm unsure myself, therefore requiring another read of the novel.<BR/><BR/>An intellectual approach to this novel will yield great appreciation both for the work and for the author. Do not pick up this novel expecting to have your heart racing! Also, I strongly recommend "In The Name of the Rose" by Eco as kind of a "Introduction to Eco's World 101" course.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Fun Book!

    Massively detailed, pleasantly convoluted, and surprisingly humorous - a rollercoaster for the mind!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    What's real and what's not

    Foucault¿s Pendulum starts with Casaubon, a student studying the Knights Templar. He connects with Belbo who works for a book publisher and they hit it off and start planning a series of books mainly dealing with historical conspiracies. Before long they¿re writing one of their own. The Kabbala comes in here and Masons, Napoleon and mainly the Knights Templar and a huge centuries-long conspiracy they think they¿re finding. ----Watching it all come together is astonishing, and then, just when you think you¿ve got it, you start asking whether the book your reading is part of the conspiracy or something else. When you¿re finished with Foucault's Pendulum, I doubt you¿ll be sure about exactly what happened. To an extent, that¿s the main idea.----The other recurrent idea here is that everything in the past is relative to the witness who sees it, even to the point where you can¿t know what¿s real or not, which must be a hard lesson for someone like Eco to teach since he¿s invested so much in learning about the past.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Too long and too obscure

    The book could have used a severe editor. It should be half as long. If you are interested in secret societies, conspiracy theories, and the psychology of belief, the book might interest you. The plot itself, which involves a literary fraud that enmeshes its creators, is fascinating. But not for 700 pages.
    If you have a choice, read the Nook version. There are many characters that you will want to refresh your memory about with the Find feature, and hundreds of obscure references and rare words that you will want to Look Up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2011

    We'll Believe Anything...

    One of my all time favorites.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I skipped almost two hundred pages in the beginning, just skimmed them. They are full of garbage that is not related to the story. If you do this it will help you finish the book. Only the last 350 pages are worth reading in detail.

    A Colonel Ardenti sells to three editors a coded message about a centuries-old Knights Templar plan to tap a mystic source of power greater than the atomic energy. The editors: Jacobo Belbo, Diotallevi, and Casaubon (the narrator), bored with rewriting absurd manuscripts on the occult, and amused by Colonel Ardenti's claim, decide to create a Plan of their own. From a message coded in the method of Trithemius the plan is as follows: "Thirty-six after the hay wain, the night of St. John of the year 1344, six sealed messages for the (Templar) knights with the white cloaks, the relapse knights of Provins revenge. Six times six in sis places, twenty years each time, for a total of one hundred and twenty years, this is the Plan." (p. 372). Researching the Templars, and their history and associations with other faiths-they deduce the following diagram: Portugal - 1344; England - 1464; France - 1584; Germany - 1704; Bulgaria - 1824; and Jerusalem - 1944.

    They assume that the power of all the undercurrents of the planet are ruled by The Conservatoire's Focoult's Pendulum in Paris. The pendulum will reveal a map...which was carefully calculated and for six hundred years someone has always taken care to keep it as it is. At sunrise on a given day of the year...which can only be the dawn of June 24, Saint John's day, feast of the summer solstice...yes, on that day and at that hour, the first pure ray of sun that comes thought the windows strikes the floor beneath the Pendulum, and the Pendulum's intersection of the ray at that instant is the precise point on the map where the Umbilicus can be found." (p. 441).

    Eco's book takes a story that is totally false and by believing in it, it becomes real enough. Real enough that the three protagonists are engulfed in it and convince forces of evil that the plan is real and only they know where the map is. This results in terrible consequences for our heroes.

    In the beginning you will not understand a thing, what is going on, who are these people, what are they trying to do. Eco meant the book to be this way! Enjoy the book and if you don't understand some historical remarks never mind, just continue, don't stumble upon the little details and the dates, get the big picture. You will have plenty of time to think about it after you have finished but the main thing is to go entirely through the book and finish it. The prose is horrible-the points of view are intermingled and you never know what's real and what's invented.

    Eco writes his books this way, they are only meant for the strong of spirit, people with perseverance that are willing to struggle in order to reach the ultimate truth that only the very few have mastered. His novels are deliberately cryptic but only to the point that they discourage the faint of heart. For the few strong men that are willing to engage into the battle, all the mysteries and the hypes reveal themselves at the end, you'll realize you should have read another book instead. Eco is crazy and it takes a lot of patience to read his books. I skipped almost two hundred pages in the beginning, just skimmed them. They are full of garbage that is not related to the story. If you do this it will help you finish the book. Only the last 350 pages are worth reading in detail.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2013

    Nook app stopped working on iPad2

    It started good, then the NOOK app stopped working

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013



    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2008


    It was a great book that 5 thoroughly enjoyed, a little slow and hard to read but still the best book I have read in a while

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    Notice how the reader reviews never talk about the plotline?

    Umberto Eco has a delightful writing style and you can tell that he's incredibly smart with his numerous, frequent allusions to occultism and esoteric history, but halfway through the book you get tired of the fact that very little is happening in the way of the actual plot. What you're left with to enjoy then is the aforementioned writing style and occult references, but it's hard to believe that you're learning anything since you don't know if any of the occultism is actually true. Foucault's Pendulum is great literature but the kind of book that you want to read just to prove to yourself that you're smarter than you actually are. Or if you're already familiar with occult history.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    Good book, for the initiate.

    Some here have complained that you need to keep consulting a dictionary while reading the book. An encyclopedia would be the better choice, if you have one lying around. If you already have a fascination with gnosticism, pseudohistory, and cabala, the book can serve as a starting point for however many endless investigations into the bottomless pit of esotericism that you want to pursue. I found it mildly confusing and tiring at times, even when I did know what they were talking about. If this were new territory for a reader it might be gibberish. Hard work, at least. For a scholarly road-map of Templar legends, Holy Blood, Holy Grail is more direct. For an enjoyable bit of dumb fun, any of Dan Brown¿s books will do. Foucault¿s Pendulum is great literature because it makes a point, subtle yet compelling, even if you only figure it out a week later. It explores the hard truth about imagination and creation, fantasy and reality, knowledge and power, and probably many other things that would make good school book reports. I, for one, really enjoyed it, well worth the time (and considerable effort)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2004

    Near Unreadable

    Translates poorly into English. Interesting text is few and far between.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2004

    Excellent (but not light reading)

    This book is excellent. With the Da Vinci code's popularity, this is a must for readers seeking better writing and more depth to their mystery. Eco at times tends to digress quite a bit and the average reader may find the historical references over their head and the writing wordy, but Foucault's Pendulum will keep the patient reader enthralled.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2004

    The 'Catch 22' of Arcana

    I believe this book is to arcana what the novel 'Catch 22' is to war. It is more timely now, in the age of 'The Davinci Code', than when first published. It is funny, sometimes hilarious, and sad, and serious, and bizarre. Amazingly effective, for me at least, in translation. The more rested and alert I was while reading this book, the more I was able to appreciate the humor, satire, and pacing (tempo) which I believe makes Foucault's pendulum a work of art. It should be read with attention to maximize appreciation. I could reread it and benefit from it the second time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    Smashing HIT !

    Positively fascinating! Intelligent and suspensefull. this was my second reading and still love it. occult and magic and paranoia. highly recommended!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2004

    Entertaining and Educational

    I found this book on a bookrack at my place of employment. In other words it was free. The price was right and I took it home and enjoyed two weeks of the most enjoying reading since The H. Allen Smith's 'Joe The One Armed Tennis Player'. Thank you Umberto Eco.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2004


    I have read this book two times once in French the second in English. Both times I read it was great. It is a wonderfull book which means if you don't understand something don't do it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2003

    A fantastic novel, if I were esoteric.

    This book contains an overwhelming amount of knowledge on the occult organizations. The problem is that Eco spends too much time addressing these organizations. Much of the time there are no descriptions as to what the organizations are about. I've never spent much time reading about the occult throughout history. I believe the more you know about the occult, the more you may enjoy this book. In my opinion, it needs less reference and more action.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2003

    way too dense

    Read the Da Vinci Code and you have Eco's Foucault's Pendulum without all of the unnecessary labor and effort. Eco's book is way too top heavy on secret societies and allusions to mysticism and the occult. Much of his references are unnecessary and severely complicate the plotline making reading the book less than pleasurable. Even for aficionados of mysteries and puzzles, this book is so convulted that the reader expends more time trying to decipher Eco's writing style and less following his story. Eco is a great master of semantics, but he tries too hard to show it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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