Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel to have some fun. They start feeding random bits of information into a powerful computer capable of inventing connections between the entries, thinking they are ...
Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel to have some fun. They start feeding random bits of information into a powerful computer capable of inventing connections between the entries, thinking they are creating nothing more than an amusing game, but then their game starts to take over, the deaths start mounting, and they are forced into a frantic search for the truth.
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Umberto Eco writes with the historian in mind. You will love the challenge and enjoy the education you get from reading any of his books. Foucault's Pendulum is an excellent example.
Louis David T
Jan 19, 2012
It's not "the name of the rose"
First, I loved "The Name of the Rose" and read it 3 times discovering new facets each time. Foucault's Pendulum isn't in the same league unfortunately. My wife read it in the original Italian and loved it, I should note. However, I find the writing style to be basic in spite of the plethora of Latin phrases and quotations and names that give the impression of substance. I found the complexity of the writing to be intriguing at first but soon found it distracting and eventually felt that it was a replacement for substance. I found that the author overused the literary device of having the central character telling stories that generally read like a what was once called "young people's literature". I had expected better writing not just another compendium of medieval life.
Oct 13, 2009
Read this book and tell me what it means.
Brilliantly conceived. Meticulously plotted. Beautifully written. Superb characterization. Stunning complexity and depth of scholarship showcased throughout. With this book, Umberto Eco has given us one for the ages.
At graduate school, an attractive female student handed me a paperback copy of 'Foucault's Pendulum' and said: "I've read this book twice and I can't understand it. Will you read it and then tell me what it means?" As I got to know her better I learned that she considered herself a white witch, and that one of her witchy friends had told her there were secrets in this book that she (as a professional witch, that is) needed to know.
Another woman I know (a daycare operator and Sunday-school teacher) thinks she's a Christian. She wouldn't read this book. She said she'd 'spurned it' because it has an occult symbol printed at the head of each chapter. She thinks Satan will get her immortal soul if she reads 'Foucault's Pendulum'.
So once again it turns out that people in real life are crazier than the villains in the book -- and in 'Foucault's Pendulum,' the villains are pretty crazy. Scary crazy.
I say, "Read 'Foucault's Pendulum'. If you're not stupid, you'll probably have a real good time with it. I mean, the witches convinced me: even crazy people like 'Foucault's Pendulum'."
Apr 10, 2007
My Favorite Book, Hands Down
As you might have guessed from the title, I'm kind of partial to this book. People often ask why this book is my favorite, and my explanations are always woefully inadequate. But here is my best attempt:
Considering the length and density of this book, a concise summary is just short of impossible; the closer one gets to an adequate description, the further one gets from "concise". The main narrative is essentially a souped up version of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" (though Eco remembers to credit "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" with the basic concept). The three main characters create an elaborate theory of history, tying together every conspiracy theory and every aspect of the occult they encounter. It's easy to forget, however, that this is the central narrative, as so much of the book is devoted to character development.
I generally prefer well-written character portraits to a driving narrative, and Eco's ability to incorporate both is incredible to me. Though it's not the most quickly-paced book, I found myself in plenty of suspense. What makes this book great to me, however, is not the suspense, but the time spent creating real human beings. The diary entries, the time spent overseas, and even the way the three men interact every day are all opportunities to create living characters, and Eco exploits these to their fullest potential.
Without overtly stating anything, and without being too obtuse or cryptic, Eco makes gorgeous statements about life, love, and human understanding, as well as the importance of ideas. His prose is brilliant, and his characters real. No review that I could write could possibly do this story justice.
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