Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story...
5 reviews from the community
Review of "Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco"
musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, thinker of deep thoughts, quantum spanner, zenarchist. People have woken up to worse.
In a world where Dan Brown novels are regarded by many as being semi-academic, re-examinations of histories more controversial ecclesiastical theories, thank The Lord (pun intended) for Umberto Eco. He is best known for The Name of The Rose a medieval whodunit since made into a successful film, but as a novelist, literary critic, philosopher and university lecturer, Eco wrote on a wide range of topics from academic essays to children’s stories. He was a semiotician, a devotee of the real life study of signs, symbolism, meaning and metaphor (ironically much like Robert Langdon’s made up title of Symbologist) and it is often his application of the allegorical that drives this book’s subtle and complex plot weave.The story revolves around three employees, Belbo, Casaubon and Diotallevi, who work for a publishing house and in an effort to relieve the boredom of dealing with the mainly vanity works that their company handles, they decide to invent their own conspiracy theories, known to them as The Plan. As the book, told mainly through flashbacks and recollections, progresses, their immersion in The Plan causes the line between invention and possibility, fiction and fact to blur and once other conspiracy theorists begin not only taking up but elaborating on these ideas, they find themselves no longer the puppet masters but pawns in a far more dangerous game.
My love of the book is driven not only by Eco’s sumptuous use of language, but his almost satirical approach towards the whole idea of conspiracy theory. Whereas most books working in this field try to inflict their two pence worth of opinion, to add to the conclusions rather than examine the premise, Foucault’s Pendulum does just the opposite. It shows just how shallow and transparent such theories can be yet still be escalated to fever pitch and taken as fact by those looking for answers. The three characters themselves evolve from skeptics to true believers in this fantasy world they have created, using even the most tenuous of events from the established historical record on which to hang their own parallel history.
Reviewing this in 2017 I find that one more aspect of the book sounds out clear. Although written in the pre-social media late eighties, it can almost be seen as an unintended prophecy regarding alternative facts and the ability to create false realities and disseminate them through the ranks of the needy and the vulnerable in society. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the information that they weave to build The Plan, in Eco’s usual way it is well researched, wide reaching, plausible, weaving truth and fabrication but resulting in a web of events and information which on the surface at least is as justifiable and intricate as any moon landing, Roswell or JFK assassination theories that seem so enduring.
It is a deep, rich and thought-provoking book, its use of language is both eloquent and accessible, poetic and narrative driven and it is a book that only Umberto Eco could have written. If you have any interest in history, conspiracy theory, alternative facts, academia or just great story telling then a stack of Dan Brown’s novels are essential, but only to use as a platform to reach Foucault’s Pendulum sitting in its place of honour on your highest book shelf.
Product Information : Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Manufacturer's product descriptionThree 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. From the PublisherBrilliant'Brilliant...A novel that is deeper and richer that The Name of the Rose' New York Times'Brilliant, funny, encompassing everything you ever wanted to know about practically everything (including numerology, James Bond's foes, and the construction of sewers), this book is both extraordinarily learned and well plotted' Sunday Times'Endlessly diverting...Even more intricate and absorbing than his international bestseller The Name of the Rose' TimeThree book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired to have some fun by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel. 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.'An intellectual adventure story, as ensational, thrilling and packed with arcana as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Count of Monte Cristo' Washington Post Book World'Umberto Eco is literature's great magician...He offers us many passages of brilliance, and treats us to a Shakespearean alternation of paroxysm and intimacy, madness and wisdom. There is something here for everyone. His genius affords his readers a selection of delights that will make their heads spin' Le Monde
Author: Umberto Eco
Title: Foucault's Pendulum
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 0099287153; 0151327653; 015603297X; 0436140969
Listed on Ciao since: 04/10/2003