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The Prague Cemetery Hardcover – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; 1st edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547577532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547577531
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?

Eco takes his readers on an unforgettable journey through the underbelly of world-shattering events. Eco at his most exciting, a book immediately hailed as a masterpiece.

A Note from the Author

Dear Amazon Readers:

The nineteenth century teemed with mysterious and horrible events: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery that later inspired Hitler; the Dreyfus Case; and numerous intrigues involving the secret services of various nations, Masonic sects, Jesuit conspiracies, as well as other episodes that—were they not documented truths—would be difficult to believe.

The Prague Cemetery is a story in which all the characters except one—the main character—really existed. Even the hero’s grandfather, the author of a mysterious actual letter that triggered modern anti- Semitism, is historical.

And the hero himself, though fictional, is a personage who resembles many people we have all known, past and present. In the book, he serves as the author of diverse fabrications and plots against a backdrop of extraordinary coups de théâtre: sewers filled with corpses, ships that explode in the region of an erupting volcano, abbots stabbed to death, notaries with fake beards, hysterical female Satanists, the celebrants of black Masses, and so on.

I am expecting two kinds of readers. The first has no idea that all these things really happened, knows nothing about nineteenth-century literature, and might even have taken Dan Brown seriously. He or she should gain a certain sadistic satisfaction from what will seem a perverse invention—including the main character, whom I have tried to make the most cynical and disagreeable in all the history of literature.

The second, however, knows or senses that I am recounting things that really happened. The fact that history can be quite so devious may cause this reader’s brow to become lightly beaded with sweat. He will look anxiously behind him, switch on all the lights, and suspect that these things could happen again today. In fact, they may be happening in that very moment. And he will think, as I do: "They are among us…"

--Umberto Eco

Review

"[Eco's] latest takes that longtime thriller darling, the conspiracy theory, and turns it into something grander...Sold to 40 countries and said to be controversial; a speed-read with smarts." -- Library Journal, Pre-Pub Alert, "My Picks"


"A whirlwind tour of conspiracy and political intrigue...this dark tale is delightfully embellished with sophisticated and playful commentary on, among other things, Freud, metafiction, and the challenges of historiography." -- Booklist


"Intriguing, hilarious...a tale by a master." -- Publishers Weekly boxed review


"He's got a humdinger in this new high-level whodunit...a perplexing, multilayered, attention-holding mystery." -- Kirkus, starred


"I find this book fascinating, perhaps the best Eco has written in years. Eco takes on conspiracy theories in the feverish political activism of nineteenth-century Europe--freemasonry, the Italian Risorgimento, the Paris Commune, and above all the forgery of the slanderous The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. What if there were a single mastermind behind all these conspiracies? It's already a bestseller in Italy, and I can't get enough of it!" ---- Huffington Post


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

There are very few books that I do not read to the end, this was one of them.
JudyG
The book's characters, including the main protagonist, are rather insipid, most appear for a short time and do not betray much emotion or unusual thinking.
Gene Zafrin
If you have enjoyed previous Eco novels steeped in colorful historical detail, then this is another one you should read.
adorian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

388 of 410 people found the following review helpful By Nancy E. Turner VINE VOICE on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Umberto Eco is anything but a pedant in his writing. The world was in turmoil between 1885 and 1905. Eco has thrown the whole mess of Europe in the late 19th century into one story, threaded it all through the hateful and vengeful eye of a delerius psychotic, and made it all make sense. The book is chock full of everything from Sigmund Freud (spelled Froid [umlaut]) to Napoleon, and for my money, I believe much of the backstory is true to history as I have learned it.
The style is gripping, entertaining, and rife with hidden meaning between the lines so that the reader seems to know what the narrator/main character does not. Simonini reveals from about the second page that he is the multiple-personality, the psychotic, the borderline person whom he seeks. We know it. We even begin to realize that others who know Simonini also know him as either a fraud or a lunatic. One of the masterful ways in which this is done is the character describing everyone he hates. Germans. Jews. French. Russians. The one thing that makes this so different from all his other novels is the level of sexual perversion graphically described, the twisting of motives of everyone from Jewish Rabbis to Templar Masons, of course through the eyes of a madman, and the level of depravity it makes the reader FEEL. Now, any author desires to elicit emotion from a reader, even if it is anger. Eco managed to step on all my buttons. This book is thick with hate speech, promiscuity, and murder. The writing is flawlessly brilliant, but the subject matter is not gentled by even the smallest point. One does wonder, since the book is translated from Italian, whether the translator is the brilliant here, but likely, they are equals. I read this for the Vine program, and if not for needing to supply a review, probably would not have finished it. It is so completely grim, so dark, foreboding, and evil, that I felt exhausted by it.
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230 of 253 people found the following review helpful By Patrick McCormack VINE VOICE on October 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Everything Eco writes starts with an off-putting tour through a forest of symbols and a closet jammed with old conspiracies, until the average reader throws the damn thing at the wall.

This is no different, although the racist rambler at the center of the opening scenes of this novel is appalling, like Don Rickles on medieval crack.

This novel is a thriller in clown pants, a consipracy of dirty priests and nasty freemasons and horrible men and the smelly calvalcade of southern European bigotries. It is great fun, and surprisingly a rolicking good tail, but why, oh why has Mr. Eco never learnt to lead the reader into the labrynth of his genius?

So, if you are in the mood for a good book that starts with a Master's degree level of litarary sophistication in one huge swallow, this is the book for you. If you are in a book that takes you through all of the many furtive nasty cracks in a bad man's mind, in order to make a point, this is the book for you...

I cannot help but think that this must be literature, because it is too dense to be a dime novel.

If he wears you out (and Mr. Eco does wear out a reader) within the first 25 pages, so be it. Having finished it, I have the same reaction to this as I did to reading Genet.... brilliant. Sick. Worth it. Never again.
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106 of 116 people found the following review helpful By lit-in-the-last-frontier on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
[B]The Prague Cemetery[/B] by Umberto Eco '''

In general I am a huge fan of Umberto Eco, and as such I was eagerly awaiting the release of the English translation of [B]The Prague Cemetery[/B]. I am sad to say that all of those elements that I love about Eco's writing-the intelligent plotting, the dense prose, the belief in his reader's ability to follow where he leads-have been carried to excess with this one.

The story is narrated by three voices, two of which are one person with a split personality, and the third is an unreliable voice of no discernible provenance. I must give a warning here about the main character. Eco has stated that he attempted to create the most despicable of all literary characters. The book begins with a rant that, had I not agreed to review the novel, would have had me tossing this one aside. If you are Jewish, German, French, Italian, or female and are sensitive to vitriol, the opening pages might offend you greatly. In point of fact I must admit that as the pages roll on the reader can see that stereotypes of prejudices are being played upon, and the reader begins to perceive the shape of a truly reprehensible character and ceases for the most part to be offended personally. The one thing which continued to cause me a fair measure of unease as I read is the virulent anti-semitism. I know that distrust and dislike of the Jewish people has been rampant throughout European history, and I realize that the plot of this novel centers around events purportedly reactionary to those anti-semitic feelings. However, the hatred is so much at the forefront of this book, that it almost made me the reader feel complicit by continuing to read. The foreknowledge that that is the author's intent does not make me feel any less uncomfortable.
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135 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Dillingham VINE VOICE on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Commenting on any work by Umberto Eco is a daunting task. Eco's massive
learning, deployed in each of his books not to impress but to reinforce
the depth and complexity of his thought, as well as the intricacy of
the narrative structures he delights in creating, combine to force doubt
and uncertainty in the mind of a reviewer--have I missed something crucial?
Are the subtleties too remote for my comprehension? Of course, these are
good problems to have, since they are part of the constant pleasure of reading
Eco (whether nonfiction or fiction), and recognizing them as signals that the
characteristics of Eco's work are present in this latest novel.

The Prague Cemetery purports to be the memories of a man of the 19th century,
or arguably two men, since we are shown that "Captain Simonini" is also
"Abbe Dalla Piccola" --though neither of the two men understands at first how
they can both inhabit the same body--but they are a case of multiple personality
disorder, comparable to a woman (Diana) who is being studied and exploited by
psychologists and clerics who find her two personalities (one a "Satanist" who
follows a sect of Freemasons, the other a pious and devout Catholic who is
horrified by the behavior of her alternate personality). The fact that Captain
Simonini encounters a certain "Froide," who is a psychologist working with
the famous Charcot in Paris, reinforces the novel's interest in the transition
from older forms of psychic research (uses of hypnosis by Mesmer and his followers)
toward the "talking cure" and acceptance of the importance of dreams and childhood
trauma in the exploration of adult emotional psychopathology.
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