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The Prague Cemetery Paperback – September 4, 2012
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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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
"[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, "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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another absolutely amazing work. Passages can be read and the word Muslim be substituted for Jew and the result is frightening. The insights are incredible. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Yoga Dude
Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys history with a bit of conspiracy. Amazing discovery of fiction that may have contributed to so much suffering in the world. Read morePublished 9 days ago by J A VAN NOORDWYK
I read his Rose book years ago and liked it. I thought this one was poorly written. I didn't know what was going on half the time.Published 1 month ago by Snakewoman
The author is, obviously, a SUPER intellectual, which is evidenced by his frequent references to literary, historical events. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carolebolotin
The book is well written. A knowledge of French would be helpful. This book illustrates in a disturbing way how government propaganda can lead to genocide.Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
What an intelligent and creative way of storytelling, weaving mysteries and history seamlessly! It is not the easiest story to follow unless you are familiar with the 19th century... Read morePublished 6 months ago by whj
Umberto Eco books never tends to be mundane ( well at least the 5 books I have by him) ! If there is any complaints - its too rich but not as rich as Focault's Pendulum ( thats an... Read morePublished 6 months ago by MOHAMED E.
Umberto Eco narrates early 13th-14th c. thinking to inform a 20c. reader of such events in a first person narration with excellent skill.Published 6 months ago by Shirley A. Klamm