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Baudolino Paperback – October 6, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Parts of this novel are brilliant, but Eco does not seem to know what he wants this novel to be. For example, he spends a portion of the book documenting the rise of the Italian city-states, finally focusing on one city and its inhabitants with convincing detail and conflict, only to discard it - just when the situation gets interesting - in favor of a lackluster quest to return the Holy Grail to Prestor John's kingdom. The books covers events that occurred throughout Europe, and somehow (is it his liar's tongue?) Baudolino is always there with his hand stirring up history. Eco devotes huge sections to war, mythological beings, and long treatises on the theological questions of the times. He seems to want to cram everything he knows about the Middle Ages into this novel: myths, misconceptions, historical figures, theological debates, politics.Read more ›
And what a main character Baudolino is! For every major historical event, from Barbarossa's sieges and compromises with various Italian cities and popes to the discovery and placement of the Three Magi of Cologne, Baudolino is not only there, he is the major instigator. From the opening of the book, when we meet him as a young boy worming his way into Friedrich's graces with his quick wit and tongue, Baudolino is an engaging rascal, full of himself and his own (justified) ability to turn the course of history with a well crafted falsified parchment here, a poem (as presented as by someone else) there, or a quiet word with the Emperor carefully couched in just the language the Emperor wishes to hear.
But this also brings up one of Eco's major themes of this book, on just what is real and true. If people believe in it, does it matter that the relic worshiped as the Holy Grail is actually a common wooden bowl? If the lie will serve a greater good, is it really a lie? If someone, somewhere, declares that something exists, then does it really have an existence? Where is the line between fantasy and reality?Read more ›
The story opens during the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Having saved the historian Niketas, Baudolino proceeds to tell him his story; a grand epic which stars Baudolino as poet, statesman, reluctant soldier, spy, lover, holy man, philosopher, and pilgrim to the mythical realm of Prester John. It encompasses the Crusades, the search for the holy grail, the mysteries of the East, the circular wrangling between pope and potentate, the petty, fluid and bloody rivalries of Italian cities and the state of science at the time.
But there's one caveat. The young Baudolino originally caught his patron's eye because of his two greatest talents - languages and lies. So what to believe?
The choice is yours and the journey is stimulating, although the drug-enhanced Paris student arguments on the great questions of the day begin to read like student arguments of any era, despite the wit. Baudolino is engaging, but as an untrustworthy narrator he maintains a certain distance from the reader. Eco's fans, dictionary in hand, will enjoy the play, but those who got bogged down in "The Name of the Rose" should skip this one.
However - for those who do have some background in the history - this is absolutely wonderful. I think this is Eco's best book so far - it is meticulously researched, it is humourous, it weaves together multiple themes (including love, philosophy, adventure) and it has his typical detective edge with a surprising ending.
I could not stop smiling for 2 days after I finished reading it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a highly entertaining book, and quite funny, but you have to like Medieval history to appreciate it. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.Published 4 days ago by Lafayette mom
Didn't start reading Eco until his death. How foolish am I? His novels are cleverly plotted, deeply complex and deserving of repeated readings. Baudolino is no exception.Published 9 days ago by W David Hampton
Who am I to critique Umberto Eco. I loved The Name of the Rose and respected him for his views in general but Baudolino is a big disappointment for me. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Thomas P. Hallan
A generally good book but no way comparable to other from Eco.Published 2 months ago by I. A. Besirhs
This book just didn't seem to be going anywhere. It had some good insight into the medieval period but the style just wasn't for me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by MR D J VICE
Umberto Eco is one of my favorite authors, so I was disappointed to find I didn't like this novel. In the vast majority of the book, there is an interesting historical aspect to... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bibliophile
So, so, so stupid. Eco's only good book is Name of the Rose. His others just stink. This one stinks the most.Published 8 months ago by Julius
Throughout the story it felt almost a real living... holographic recreation of a man at the epicentre of the dark ages
If Forrest Gump had been born in the 12th century his... Read more
Baudonlino was my 'gateway' drug to Eco. It's one of his easier reads, preparing you for the mind explosion that is "Name of the Rose" or some of his more difficult (and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Carol T