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Foucault's Pendulum Hardcover


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Foucault's Pendulum + The Prague Cemetery + The Name of the Rose: including the Author's Postscript
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 635 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1st trade ed edition (November 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151327653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151327652
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (488 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Student of philology in 1970s Milan, Casaubon is completing a thesis on the Templars, a monastic knighthood disbanded in the 1300s for questionable practices. At Pilades Bar, he meets up with Jacopo Belbo, an editor of obscure texts at Garamond Press. Together with Belbo's colleague Diotallevi, they scrutinize the fantastic theories of a prospective author, Colonel Ardenti, who claims that for seven centuries the Templars have been carrying out a complex scheme of revenge. When Ardenti disappears mysteriously, the three begin using their detailed knowledge of the occult sciences to construct a Plan for the Templars[...] In his compulsively readable new novel, Eco plays with "the notion that everything might be mysteriously related to everything else," suggesting that we ourselves create the connections that make up reality. As in his best-selling The Name of the Rose, he relies on abstruse reasoning without losing the reader, for he knows how to use "the polyphony of ideas" as much for effect as for content. Indeed, with its investigation of the ever-popular occult, this highly entertaining novel should be every bit as successful as its predecessor. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/89. -- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

Customer Reviews

I have read this book at least six times over the last fifteen years.
R. Willoughby
I liked everything about it; the plot was well cnstructed and interesting, the prose was beautifully written and the information was detailed.
J. Greenfield
I like Eco, but I just kept waiting for the book to get better, when in fact, I was just disappointed at the end.
Markus Egger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
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 clarinet...to 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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262 of 280 people found the following review helpful By The man VINE VOICE on March 1, 2003
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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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jason on April 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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463 of 521 people found the following review helpful By Felix Matathias on July 29, 2000
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.
ADVICE:
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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