Foucault's Pendulum

Foucault's Pendulum

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Overview

Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

“As brilliant and quirky as The Name of the Rose, as mischievous and wide-ranging . . . A virtuoso performance.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
A literary joke plunges its creators into mortal danger in this captivating intellectual thriller by celebrated author Umberto Eco.

A Colonel Ardenti starts it all: He tells three editors that he has discovered a coded message about a centuries-old Knights Templar plan to tap a mystic source of power greater than atomic energy. The editors, bored with rewriting crackpot manuscripts on the occult and amused by his fantastic claims, decide to cook up a Plan of their own. Into their computer they feed manuscript pages on Satanic initiation rites, Rosicrucianism, the measurements of the Great Pyramid—and out comes a map indicating a point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled, a point located at Foucault’s Pendulum in Paris. A terrific joke, they think. Until people begin to disappear mysteriously, starting with the colonel . . .

“An encyclopedic detective story about a search for the center of an ancient, still-living conspiracy of men who seek not merely power over the earth but the power of the earth itself . . . An intellectual triumph.” —Anthony Burgess, The New York Times Book Review

UMBERTO ECO is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the bestselling author of numerous novels and essays. He lives in Milan.
 
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156032971
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/05/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 137,576
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.13(d)

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.

Hometown:

Bologna, Italy

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

1

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 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 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

KETER
1. When the light of the infinite
2. Wee haue divers curious Clocks
HOKHMAH
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
BINAH
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
HESED
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
GEVURAH
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?
TIFERET
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
NEZAH
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
YESOD
118. The conspiracy theory of society
119. The garland of the trumpet was set afire
MALKHUT
120. They hold for certain that they are in the light

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Foucault's Pendulum 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
lrg More than 1 year ago
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.
MarksTheSpotMH More than 1 year ago
Massively detailed, pleasantly convoluted, and surprisingly humorous - a rollercoaster for the mind!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
dharmakirti More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorites.
spacely on LibraryThing 3 days ago
For me, this book did not grab my attention until about half way through - the entire Brazil segment seems unnecessary. If the idea is to create empathy for the protagonist's final predicament by creating a fully-realized character, we get more from Belbo's backstory. Perhaps it's to paint a pointless diversion to underscore the hollowness underlying the Plan and the other conspiracies the Plan supposedly lampoons. The book becomes much more engaging when it details the Plan's creation and its consequences.
quixotic-creator on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Critics have claimed that Focault's Pendulum is an even better read than The Name of the Rose. Although I've now read both, I must say that if you'd prefer a more straightforward read, then Focault's Pendulum is not the first choice to hand. Dense and quite heavy at times, with the story seemingly drifting from the initial jacket teasers, one realizes as one plows through, that the endless but fascinating facts and histories of seemingly all the world's religions are indeed intergral to the main story. Well written and complex, Focault's Pendulum once again showcases the very talented abilities of Eco.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Be prepared to have a dictionary hand when reading this book. Make that several dictionaries, all in different languages and even dialects of those languages. You may even need a refresher in Physics to follow the story. But, not to worry, Uberto Ecco writes fluently and the physics is also easily explained.Ecco then takes the reader on a journey into secret societies and hidden knowledge. Not only does "Pendulum" predate Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code" it also eclipses Brown's story. Don't misunderstand me, I thoroughly enjoyed "Da Vinci Code", but Ecco's story has more flavor and is much deeper. You will learn along the way in addition to being entertained.If you enjoy mental gymnastics of a really high order, this one's for you. If you enjoy exposure to other languages, there's a lot to absorb here. If you want a transparent story line, look elsewhere. Transparency is not what "Facault's Pendulum" is about.
Joycepa on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Nearly 20 years have elapsed between my first reading of this book and now. I had forgotten entire sections of the book, including the Brasilian segment, and had remembered primarily the main plot. However, it wasn¿t very long when the most striking characteristic of the book¿the staggering scholarship¿became immediately evident. In effect, what Eco has written is, from a very narrow, biased point of view, the history of the History of the World.To summarize the plot: three editors of a less-than-ethical publishing company that has decided to cash in on the current (in 1988) fad for the occult, are forced to read manuscripts written by fanatics filled with crackpot ideas of secret societies and exotic rituals that sooner or later are based on the story of the Knights Templar. Bored by their work and encouraged by the publisher, they decide to write their own history of the occult and invent connections between both famous and obscure societies and movements, starting practically from the beginning of civilization. This starts out as a game but becomes all too real in the minds of the senior editor and ends up in a surreal confrontation in the chamber of Foucault¿s pendulum in the Conservatoire des Artes et Métiers in Paris near the site of the Temple of the Knights Templar.That¿s the plot. From this overarching theme, what follows is a book whose sections correspond to the Kabbalistic Tree of the Sefiroth. Every chapter has at its beginning a quotation from some book of alchemy (which up until the 17th century was science) or occultism. Given that there are 120 chapters (not accidental), that¿s a staggering number of relevant quotations from books which are for the most part obscure. It¿s one thing to quote Francis Bacon. It¿s quite another to quote, say, Trithemius, who is not exactly a household name.The sheer number of societies, religious sects, historical figures, movements, is just about overwhelming. What it meant for me is that I could not read this book in my normal fashion. I like to keep track of connections, like to follow the interconnectedness of things, love to discern patterns. But if I were to complete this book within my lifetime, I had to step away from all that and not worry about keeping track of the innumerable people, places, organizations, and events that move through the pages. That actually worked out well¿by relaxing, I was able to retain more of the main threads (of which there are many).Frankly, I¿m not sure if this book could have been written much before it was. In 1988, computers were just coming into general use. I had one then; it was laughable compared to what is available now, but it gave one the ability to keep track of what had been up to then an unhandlable amount of information and even make connections among that data. A computer¿Abulafia¿is an important character in the story. Without a computer, I don¿t see how Eco could have possibly kept track of the number of characters and events and how they intertwined.When you get right down to it, with few exceptions, there is very little action in the novel until the end. Out of sheer necessity, Eco uses chapter after chapter of exposition in order to get the information across. Normally, this would be deadly boring. Instead, in his hands, you wind up reading about 10-12 books within the main storyline, all of them fascinating and downright exciting. Yet when you look at it, they¿re simply one character in the book reciting a list of names and dates to some other characters. It works brilliantly.There is one segment that is action, not exposition, and that is the Brasilian episode. Causabon, the protagonist who narrates the novel, follows a lover back to Brasil where he becomes an observer at rituals of the two major Afro-Brasilian religious sects, candomblé and umbanda. Eco¿s descriptions of those events are exciting and as far as I know, right on. It¿s one of the best parts of the book.A bizarre but tremendously sat
jjmachshev on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A more modern thriller than "The Name of the Rose". What would happen if you invented a conspiracy game and then it became real? A page turner to the end. If you liked Dan Brown, give this classic a try.
shawnd on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I loved this book. Perhaps the most obscure of the hundred of references was to Emmanuel Swedenborg, a highly regarded scientist who made the earliest design of a helicopter, who later began having visions, became a philosopher and evangelist, and a religion was created based on his books 'channeled' through him from God. (One night at a dinner party in Germany, Swedenborg suddenly said loudly 'my house is on fire!'. It turned out later that his house in Sweden had burned down that night.)I am speechless about this book. Name of the Rose (NOTR) was masterly in many ways, but too dense and slow. By becoming more ecumenical in his references, and a faster moving more humanist plot than NOTR, Foucault's Pendulum does everything NOTR fails to do. This presaged and in some ways broke ground from everything from the Da Vinci Code to all the Templar books to Indiana Jones III. Eco will never repeat this book. He's gone further and further from something mainstream into the cult of Eco (how Italian of him). I once heard Eco speak on symbiotics well after Foucault's Pendulum and he was completely incomprehensible...I fell asleep...He is clearly a genius and this book is a must read.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I end up reading this novel about every three years, whether I need to or not. Being in the religion field, I see too often how people create their own reality. Eco pulls the rug out from under that process, rather rudely, but also rather elegantly. If you can keep your balance, you can remain standing afterwards. Eco wrote this before all the recent crap about the templars started showing up, and as far as I can tell, he gives us "the real thing," (and if you believe that, you need to reread the book again!)
cmc on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Foucault¿s Pendulum is a wonderful synthesis of alchemical and conspiracy literature, written in the style of the same. It¿s nice that Dan Brown has a bestseller on his hands, but Eco is the real deal.
papyri on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Eco has woven together an exciting tale of intrigue, mystery and the occult. Well worth reading.
thejohnsmith on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A great story, strong characters, didn't want to put it down - but I found it was really heavy going, really dense, had read and re-read throughout. It was worth the effort though.
LittleKnife on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Don't read this book if you don't like your authors long-winded; don't read it if you find name-dropping, academic smugness and multiple languages irritating and definitely don't read it if you are bored of the Templars.I however enjoyed every moment of it. Yes, it is pretentious - that is sort of the point, and additionally without those excessive amounts of learning and the endless cross-referencing the plot would fall apart and some of the subtler philosophical points would also fall by the wayside. This book is about the creation of the mother of all conspiracy theories spanning centuries and a variety of civilisations by academic publishers. The ideas spin out of the control of their originators and teach the a few unexpected things. The story reminds us a little bit about the connections we make in our everyday lives and our desire to attribute all sorts to a higher power. It is also a warning to academics about the nature of proof and documentary evidence. The novel is packed full of facts and history. It has some brilliant quotable quotes and pithily puts forward important ideas but in general its too long. I recommend reading it fast so you dont get swamped and don't take it too seriously.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 7 days ago
Interesting but not really my cup of tea. Possibly I would have enjoyed the Reader's Digest version (if it exists) better. I'm still conflicted about it, I'm not quite sorry I read it but I'm not sure I should have bothered. A rambling book that takes in all the paranoid societies of the last couple of milennia (and maybe more than that) and wields them like a stick. I suppose one of the points is that you can take any theory and make it into conspiracy but it's also a book that takes a long time to make that point. It took me a long time to get to the half-way point, and I nearly abandoned it several times but eventually I finished it. The second half was much easier to read. What surprises me about this book and the amount of time it took me to get to the half-way point is the fact that all of these topics covered by this book are topics I'm very familiar with and have read books both non-fiction and fiction about frequently, this book just didn't capture my imagination.It's a story of what happens when some publishers start putting various conspiracies together and how they all start to make sense the more they mash them together. When their lives start to be consumed by this and people start disappearing, things start to get very serious.
frailgesture on LibraryThing 9 days ago
I confess that I'm one of the people who never finished this book. I'm unsure whether the problem is with Eco or with the translation. I generally don't mind being "challenged" by a book, but it just seemed like every fiftieth word sent me scrambling for a dictionary. I didn't mind doing so when I was reading Infinite Jest, but here it just made the going a bit of a slog.
cmoore on LibraryThing 9 days ago
4/5. Needs an index, really, but other than that is a fabulous, erudite, challenging novel. It's everything that those fans of that mouthbreather Dan Brown wish TDC could be and more. Believe in The Plan, for The Plan is the reality.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing 9 days ago
I think Lori gave me this book to read, with a little moue that I should have recognized at the time as an attempt to hide her real motive.She'd started it on someone else's suggestion, and gotten mired down in the endless spirals of conspiracy and lies. She wanted -- badly -- to abandon it, but it held a strange power over her, and she slogged through to the end. A little wild-eyed, she sought for someone else's back to sic this monkey on to, and she chose me.Well, I had the same experience: what is this trash-can-of-farnia, and why can't I put it down? And what's wrong with this guy, after "The Name of the Rose" was so good?I made it through, too, and I think I foisted it off on my best friend Matt. I wonder who he passed the infection to....
doaho11 on LibraryThing 9 days ago
One of the best work i've read. Its thrilling is poignant yet subtle. I just can't get enough of the Plan and the farking ending was inspiringly executed. seriously, I'm just rambling words up, but I really like the book.
hippietrail on LibraryThing 9 days ago
I read this with a dictionary by my side - a big one! It was full of arcane history and knowledge which I really loved. I was not always fully convinced by the plot though.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Terribly disappointing. The author is obviously impressed with his erudition and offbeat sense of humor. The text is most frequently a morass of arcane references and details that make the book a real Slog! There is not a character in this book that is sufficently well developed to the point that one cares.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago