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Foucault's Pendulum [Kindle Edition]

Umberto Eco
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (511 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Eco, an Italian philosopher and best-selling 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. The Island of the Day Before is an ingenious tale that begins with a shipwreck in 1643. Roberta della Griva survives and boards another ship only to find himself trapped. Flashbacks give us Renaissance battles, the French court, spies, intriguing love affairs, and the attempt to solve the problem of longitude. It's a world of metaphors and paradoxes created by an entertaining scholar. Tim Curry, who also narrates Foucault's Pendulum, provides a spirited narration. Ultimately, libraries should avoid Foucault's Pendulum, but educated patrons will form an eager audience for both The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before.?James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2497 KB
  • Print Length: 641 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 5, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003WUYPI8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,223 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 153 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Knowingly clever, badly translated. February 24, 2011
I'm currently reading Foucault's Pendulum in English, but being both an English mother-tongue and a proficient Italian speaker and reader (as well as a language teacher and translator) I would like to add a little observation about this book. One of the reasons for the akwardness of the prose style and ambiguity is the translation. Many times I found the characters rammbling on at lengths about something which seemed irrelevant, but, when I translated it in my head into Italian, it made sense. One example is the recounting of a dream about a trumpet. The character says that he dreamt of the trumpet which he wanted as a child but instead received a clarinet, which he never played. Another character then asks him if he didn't dream about the which he replies no I played it. This all seems so stupid until you realise that the Italian for 'dream' and 'play' are very similar sounding and the whole dialogue is a play on words.
A book of this nature needs an expert translator. A good translator will translate what is there. An expert would have tried to reword the conversation to find two similarly confusing words in English such as 'knew' and 'blew'. "I knew of a trumpet but I never blew it" for example. The plodding unnaturally pompous prose style is a result of this type of direct translation. Italian prose is full of sub-clauses and spliced lines: English written this way sounds stilted and disjointed. So you end up with sentences such as "I, in the morning, after waking from a dream, went, with great haste, to the bar, which is near my house, for a, as always, coffee." [that's not in the book by the way :)]
To sum up, the book could do with a retranslation.
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288 of 306 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read Foucoult's Pendulum back in college when it was first published. It was recommended by my bofriend, and I spent half of Spring Break plowing through it. Hard work. One of the few books that absolutely necessitates having a dictionary at hand to really absorb it, and it better be the OED because Webster's doesn't have all the words. Seriously. And in the end, I was floored, absorbed, and used the remaining days of vacation to read it again. I had found a new "Favorite Book Ever!"

I guess I understand why so many are so full of vitriolic loathing when they discuss "Foucault's Pendulum". It isn't really a thriller, nor a consipiracy theory text, nor a philosophical treatise, nor an easy read. If you really want some brain candy (and I certainly do a lot of the time--PG Wodehouse forever!) this is not the book to pick up.

It was, however, probably the first work of fiction I had ever read that made me think about the nature of reality... what is real, what is knowledge, how do we know and who decides. I loved the historical mind games, the twisted conspiracy plots, the flights of fanciful speculation. I found the language dense, yes, but dense like the best kind of rich, dark, brownies--intense and flavorful. For me the climax of the novel had nothing to do with the plot, it was the moment when I went "ah-ha!" and actually "Got It!" An intellectual pleasure in the extreme, but a genuine joy nonetheless.

Twelve years later I own three copies of this book (my tattered original paperback, a hardcover I've read once because I felt this was a book I wanted to own in hardcover, and another paperback for lending out). I've read "Foucault" three additional times... it would be more, but, as I said, it's a tough read and you have to be in the right mood.
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skip The Da Vinci Code, please. April 27, 2005
By Jason
Dan Brown should be bludgeoned about the head and neck area for writing The Da Vinci Code without acknowledging that he essentially stole and dumbed down the plot of Eco's earlier, brainier mystery. FC is a world-spanning thriller packed with all of the elements that made Brown's book alluring (secret societies, cryptic religious symbolism, grand conspiracies, etc.). The twisting, turning thread of the plot is enough reason to keep reading, but what makes the book shine are all of Eco's philosophical, historical, and mythological/religious asides, crammed with detail. The kind of book where you sense the author checking and rechecking every line to make sure it's ... just the way he wants it.
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478 of 538 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book has it all! Mystery, thriller, suspense, world history, masons, world conspiracy, voodoo, magic, computers trying to reproduce the true name of God, jewish mysticism , druids of the forests, underground tunels that connect strategic points of the planet, publishers and writers, knights of the temple, action all around the world through the past 2 milenia. YOU NAME IT. Centuries of conspiracy and battle for the domination of the world , unspeakable secrets passed upon generation to generation from a few chosen ones, build up until the last climactic pages of the book.
The book is really worth for its money and it will keep you awake for a few days. You will refuse to close the book until you reach the end. In the beginning you will not understand a thing, what is going on, who are these people, what are they trying to do. Never mind, just carry on. Eco meant the book to be this way! Enjoy the book and if you dont understand some historical remarks never mind, just continue, dont 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. It will leave you with your mouth open. Dont let yourself think :I cant understand this, I am an idiot therefore I will not continue. No, just finish the book , at the end you will be rewarded as is the case with all of Ecos books. After all there is no such thing as "I dont understand the book", there is only "I didnt let myself free enough to understand it".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It's like an Indiana Jones story in a different universe.
Published 16 days ago by Julian
3.0 out of 5 stars yawn
not that interesting for me, just couldn't quite grab an interest - i did try, a few times but just not for everyone i guess. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Downtown Pearl
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and scholarly. Bogs down a bit in the ...
Imaginative and scholarly. Bogs down a bit in the 2nd half, but still more stimulating that almost any novel I've read. I go back and read it again every ten years or so.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
Love this book. I read it 15 years ago and it's just as amazing as I remembered. So many passages capture something I've always had at the edge of my awareness, but could never... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura Saddler
5.0 out of 5 stars "If I only had a brain.."
Read it. Don't give up on it. The payoff is well worth the trudging from tench to one trench at a time. It almost begs you to put it down, taunting at your intellect. Read more
Published 2 months ago by ryan golden
5.0 out of 5 stars great concept from beginning to end
Must read book...can be hard going and the language very florid...great concept from beginning to end.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reading
Read the book between solstices, very deep layered story touching the essence of humanity and human thought
Highly recommended for the patient reader
Published 2 months ago by Anna Inger
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and dense read, well worth the effort!
Foucault's Pendulum was an amazing and dense read, well worth the effort! I really enjoyed the depth of the story, but I think it took some effort as a reader to get into the book... Read more
Published 3 months ago by CJB
3.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Just Not The Right Reader For This Book
This is Dan Brown for stuffy intellectuals, or armchair intellectuals, or perhaps pseudo-intellectuals, and/or all of the above. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dean
3.0 out of 5 stars I have a Master's in English, darn it. ...
I have a Master's in English, darn it. I should know what this book "means." I don't, however. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jeff Criswell
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More About the Author

Umberto Eco (born 5 January 1932) is an Italian novelist, medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, and literary critic.

He is the author of several bestselling novels, The Name of The Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of The Day Before, and Baudolino. His collections of essays include Five Moral Pieces, Kant and the Platypus, Serendipities, Travels In Hyperreality, and How To Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays.

He has also written academic texts and children's books.

Photography (c) Università Reggio Calabria

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