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288 of 306 people found the following review helpful
My favorite book ever... who knew it was so controversial?
on March 2, 2003
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. Every time I've experienced again that first wonderful "Ah-ha!" moment, though perhaps a little less intense since I know it is coming. The boyfriend who recommended it is now my husband. And hundreds of books later, it's still my favorite book.