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 controlleda 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.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
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About the Author
UMBERTO ECO (1932–2016) was the author of numerous essay collections and seven novels, 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 was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Date of Birth:January 5, 1932
Date of Death:February 19, 2016
Place of Birth:Alessandria, Italy
Education:Ph.D., University of Turin, 1954
Read an Excerpt
HEBREW HANDWRITING ART
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 knewbut anyone could have sensed it in the magic of that serene breathingthat 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 symmetrylike 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 movedearth, solar system, nebulae and black holes, all the children of the great cosmic expansionone 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 offhe, 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 encountertheir first and last encounterwith 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 Ihad 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 www.harcourt.com/ contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
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
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
HOD112. 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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Massively detailed, pleasantly convoluted, and surprisingly humorous - a rollercoaster for the mind!
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.
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.
One of my all time favorites.
Eco's consideration of the sixties & its aftermath, conspiratorial thinking, love and family and a lot else.
An interesting quest novel involving the secret world of Templars explored through intelligent writing of Eco
There may be something of a spoiler in what follows.This is my first exposure to Umberto Eco, and it will not be my last. Eco writes an intelligent novel without holding his intellect over the reader - you do not feel like he is talking down at you, but simply telling a fascinating tale.Foucault's Pendulum is another of those books that take on the challenge of the centuries-long conspiracy theory centering around the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, Caballism, etc. - along the lines of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code and numerous other books (both good and bad). Eco, however, seems to be the only author who takes his treatment seriously enough that it is well researched, plausibly constructed, and exhaustively explained.The story centers on the attempt by three friends - Casaubon, Diotallevi and Belbo - who, while planning a project on the occult for the Publisher for whom they work, try playing a practical joke: taking all "facts" various sources have come up with about the Knights Templar, feeding the facts into a computer, then seeing what comes from all that when added to their own thoughts about "The Plan" (as they call it). Problem is, their Plan may be closer to the truth than they expect, and they may have gotten themselves into something they (ultimately) cannot get out of.What is so great about Eco's treatment is how well-researched it is, how thoroughly explained it is, and how he is able to mingle some deep, scholarly, logical narrative with the elements essential to a very compelling thriller.I was so caught up in his characters (especially Casaubon - the main narrator), that I found the ending of the book to be thoroughly devastating. I also had to admire how Eco took the story to the only logical ending it could have. Some writers (Brown, for instance) place their characters on a pedestal, immune to the world around them. Eco's characters are treated the way real life treats people.This is not a casual read, although one could skip over some of the more esoteric material and focus on the real plot itself. However, to skip over any pieces of Eco's work is to miss the entire point of the book's having been written. It may not be easy, but it is captivating, intelligent and rewarding.Eco's works will easily go down in literary history as classics of their period.This is a MUST READ.
I picked this book up more than a decade ago. I started reading it once but couldn't get into it. When The DaVinci Code came out, somebody recommended this book to me as a "thinking man's DaVinci Code." And yet it still took me another 4-5 years to read it. I'm sad that it took me so long to finally get to this book.The first thing I'll say is that this is an incredibly dense book. I'm generally a pretty fast reader. But with this book, my reading speed was generally cut at least in half either by the writing or by forcing myself to slow it down. There is just so much going on that this book truly requires more time spent on each page.The high level story is actually fairly simplistic. To an extent I would almost simplify it and say that this is the story of what happens prior to the opening pages of the DaVinci Code novel...the book opens in a museum with our protagonist, Casaubon anxiously awaiting some midnight ritual that could result in death but then the next ~400+ pages are told in flashback to let us know how we got to this point. So where DaVinci Code starts with a ritualistic death in a museum and works to solve the mystery, Foucault starts with the musuem but then backtracks to show how we got there and (eventually) ends with the events in the museum.The story involves a group of overly educated folks working together at a publishing house. As they receive a number of outlandish books about various conspiracy theories, they finally decide to create their own theory from their own knowledge and information as well as by piecing together bits from all of these other books. They create a very coherent plan that outlines centuries/millenia of plotting by Templars and other Holy Orders. Naturally, their plan comes too close to the truth (or does it?) and gets them all in trouble.Interestingly, this basic synopsis was outlined on the back cover of the book. However, aside from the first few pages in the museum, it takes a few hundred pages before the group of people get together at the publishing house and start working on their own plan.Instead of jumping right into the action and giving us an intense action-packed novel, the author provides us a "teaser" of the action to come (the museum) but then takes us back in time many years and allows us to follow the educational pattern that eventually provides the adequate knowledge to develop this intricate plan.We follow Casaubon from Europe to South America and back again over decades. We relive his interesting experiences with different cults, mystics, and others. We're also taken on flashbacks as he talks with one of the other men, Belbo, about his childhood during World War II and there are numerous segments of psychological analysis of his experiences. Indeed, even though we are living the story through Casaubon's narration, there are a number of segments told from Belbo's point of view either as he spoke to Casaubon or as Casaubon reads some journal-type writing by Belbo.So, the general story of this book is fairly simple and easy to follow. But the amount of information presented is staggering. It took me a number of chapters to get a feel for the narrative style but once I did, I found a lot of passages to be very humorous and witty.Naturally I didn't have time or energy to go through and validate each of the various historical commentaries made by the characters. They were all presented with a great sense of authority. Indeed, part of the theme of the novel, at least from my perspective, is that readers SHOULD question what they're presented rather than just accepting it as fact. Furthermore, even if there is plenty of truth in what is presented, that doesn't necessarily mean that the end result is true.Through the absurdity with which Casaubon and his friends develop "The Plan" and the further absurdity by which it is accepted, Eco seems to be presenting the argument that conspiracy theories and theorists are far to eager to jump at their d
I liked The Name of the Rose, so when I saw Foucault's Pendulum at the bookstore, I decided to grab it. Unfortunately for me, it's a rather different sort of book than The Name of the Rose.The Name of the Rose is essentially a detective story. It's set in medieval times and is told in a wonderfully baroque manner, but with all the descriptive flourishes pared away its story is relatively straightforward. Foucault's Pendulum is more of a surrealist book--the journey matters more than the destination, and the book's climax is just a single element in the tapestry of the narrative, a fact for which I was not completely prepared.The pacing of the book is also rather slow, and not always in a good way. In, say, A Fire Upon the Deep, the pace is slow, but there's a feeling of grandness, of something gradually but inexorably building as the story progresses. I often felt that Foucault's Pendulum was dragging along without necessarily going anywhere, especially during the elaboration of the Plan, where the characters just keep piling details on details seemingly without end.I should note that the edition I read had an annoying synopsis on the back cover. It claimed that the main characters put facts into a computer that drew connections between apparently disparate facts. In the book, those events don't take place until about two-thirds of the way in, and the actual details are somewhat different than those which the synopsis implies. At least it didn't completely give away things, like the summary text at the beginning of my copy of Archangel.Spoilers below.Again, Foucault's Pendulum is not a straightforward tale. Since I was expecting one, the ending came as something of a disappointment to me. Throughout the entire book, the narrator referenced the events of that night in terms that were filled with portent. When the book actually got around to describing it, I thought it very anticlimactic. There's the implication that the main characters have somehow divined something true, but the climax arrives and the reader is told, "No, sorry. It's all fake."I suppose I should read it again in the right frame of mind, but it's really dense and I'm not sure the effort would be worth it. Goes on the "someday, if I get around to it" list.
When people asked me what this was about, I would say something like, "It's sort of a cerebral version of The Da Vinci Code." And then I would think, "Christ, if I overheard anyone else saying that, I would hate him immediately." In the end, the description works better than any other one sentence I've come up with. Feel free to want to punch me, if that suits you. One big difference is that Eco's book doesn't suck. It is, at times, still a freewheeling romp. But instead of flagellants chasing people with guns, the action is in the form of people reinventing history. The action basically takes the form of people making fun of the same characters who Dan Brown attempts to make terrifying. Most importantly, though, Eco is a great writer. Every 10 or 15 pages there will be a whole paragraph that is so well put together it makes you giggle.For me, the middle of the book was a bit slow. I enjoyed the word games and twisting of history, but 400 pages of it is a lot. On plotting and execution of story, the book is a three. But I'm bumping it up one for the occasional sparkle of the writing.
"That was when I saw the Pendulum." Almost every Chicago school student has seen the great Foulcault's Pendulum located in the stairwell of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, which is about 1 ½ miles from the birth place of nuclear energy. Fermi and his crew were probably in on the conspiracy too. Read the book and you'll understand why I can't tell you what I know.
A brilliant experiment in authorship, a wonderful story, and an extraordinary journey of fantasy, history, knowledge, and philosophy. Quirky, witty, and thoroughly absorbing.
History, mystery, fact, fiction, conspiracy theory, religion, love, and mythology all wrapped up into one long book. Sounds great, right? Not necessarily. Foucault's Pendulum is an average book. Although I'm fluent in French and am an avid linguist/etymologist, some of the foreign words were too much for me. This book is definitely not easy reading; it requires lots of concentration.
A few hundred pages less of Templars, Jesuits, Rosicrucians, and so on would allow the wonderful premise "Beware of faking: people will believe you" to better breathe. Here is a book the Blowtorch Brigade, a shadowy cabal of frustrated editors, should have visited prior to its publication.
Didn't enjoy this as much as some other Eco books, but I'm convinced it's because I wasn't quite ready for it. Probably worth a re-read.
I often get sleepy when I read, but this book absolutely exhausted me. Every passage is a battle. I had to accept very early that I would simply not understand a number of the words and references. One of the back cover reviews called the book "encyclopedic" - I'd say that covers it pretty well.I do wish I knew more about Italian political history when reading this book. I don't think you need to be particularly well-versed in Templar mythology - a fair amount of context is given for that part of the story. Having some familiarity with Kabbalah was quite helpful. It is not necessary for following the plot, but takes a central role in establishing the framework for the novel and is never explained.With all that said, I really enjoyed "Foucault's Pendulum." I appreciate the layers of the plot - this is a story about three editors who create a conspiracy theory as a way to mock conspiracy theorists but get caught up in their own creation. As the reader, you also get drawn into this trap, and I often caught myself forgetting that it was a game. The semiotics angle is also very strong in this book, showing the leaps people make between symbols and associations.It took me maybe 80-100 pages to really get drawn in, but then I was hooked. I was fairly indifferent towards the narrator but really liked the development of Belbo's character. I thought this was a 5-star read for about 90% of the book - I was a little underwhelmed by the climax and end of the book. I don't know that it could have ended any other way, but it still left me feeling a bit unfulfilled.It's hard to recommend this book freely because it is such a struggle, but I imagine one day I will be returning for a second reading.
For the conspiracy theorist, philosopher, or historian who is secretly interested in the arcane and esoteric. This seems to be the research that Dan Brown never did.
I found this book to be equal parts novel and treasure hunt. Conspiracy theories and the occult are pretty interesting to me, so I'd often find myself writing down books to find and subjects to research. If you are uninterested in going off on tangents and would prefer a straightforward narrative, this probably isn't the book for you.
Some books are hyped, and in the process each aspect gets blown up beyond recognition. I should have known better, that is, to stay away from best-sellers, like this. It's all puff.The opening chapter is difficult to read, a perhaps deliberately oblique description of the function of Foucault's pendulum. This is soon followed by a racy description of the crusades and the origin of the order of the Knights Templar. This is probably the most interesting part of the book. This is ended by a ruse, the suggestion of a conspiracy, by a character who promptly disappears. Subsequently, the story falls flat for about 200 pages. The book would be a lot more readable, and portable, if you would tear out chapters 34 - 80. These chapters seem to have no other function than to separate the 'facts" in part 1 from the 'fiction' in part 2. From chapter 81, the story picks up with the alchemists, spinning candy floss out of the ideas introduced in the first part of the book. The mystery presented here is quite ridiculous.
This is one of those books that is a great read until the last pages, where it sort of fizzles out. The plot is quite complex, full of secret societies, impending doom and exciting adventures. I would rate it second best after 'The Name of the Rose'.
At first only intrigued by the jacket cover description, I found that this book was so much more than just a mystery thriller. Granted, it starts out slowly and somewhat unclear, but I thought it was a nice change of pace from the ordinarily action-stuffed novels of today. This novel is filled with immensely descriptive detail when appropriate and references to historical events, figures, places, and books are on nearly every page. I loved the main theme of making connections, as it brought together so many different aspects of the world and placed them all into a single novel, into the Plan. While some may find the chapters spent entirely on explaining histories most likely unknown to the reader dull, I found the way in which Eco shared this information enriching. The characters, though not the most colorful or charming people in the world, remained true to life in my perspective, where not everyone has their shining moment of glory in the way they pictured it, and not everyone has the courage to face the truth. For readers expecting a fantastical adventure centered around the Templars and a Plan to dominate the world, this is not the book for you, though it does have those aspects. Most of this novel is very reflective and comments heavily on the human need for religion and the search for truth, with the action primarily taking place at the end, and then from a spectator's standpoint.Overall, this book can be very enriching and even eye-opening for someone who can sit down and read it thoroughly.Note: Dictionaries, Wikipedia, and French/Latin dictionaries are very helpful at parts. You should keep them handy to get the full experience of this novel.
Too long with the plot being too flimsy. Its more of a history lesson than a novel. I'm not saying this may not be a literature fan's delight - it may well be. I however, did not find it enjoyable. By the end, it was more about finishing the book than anything else.
After reading the first page of this novel about a dozen times, I knew that it was going to be tough going. I struggled through the first twenty or so pages, and then suddenly I began to find my way and the story opened out into an epic. I could only respect Eco's learning, and the way that he manipulates ideas and words around to suit his purpose. The plot is very interesting, and the characters profoundly human; I also found the novel unashamedly clever and erudite, which was very refreshing. It is one of the few books I have read that have made a truly lasting impression on me, and I am sure that I will revisit it again in the future.
poor follow up to TNOT Rose. Too intricate and obsessed with irrevalent details.