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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Eco, an Italian philosopher and best-selling novelist, is a great polymathic fabulist in the tradition of Swift, Voltaire, Joyce, and Borges. The Name of the Rose, which sold 50 million copies worldwide, is an experimental medieval whodunit set in a monastic library. In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate heresy among the monks in an Italian abbey; a series of bizarre murders overshadows the mission. Within the mystery is a tale of books, librarians, patrons, censorship, and the search for truth in a period of tension between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. The book became a hit despite some obscure passages and allusions. This deftly abridged version, ably performed by Theodore Bikel, retains the genius of the original but is far more accessible. Foucault's Pendulum, Eco's second novel, is a bit irritating. The plot consists of three Milan editors who concoct a series on the occult for an unscrupulous publishing house that Eco ridicules mercilessly. The work details medieval phenomena including the Knights Templar, an ancient order with a scheme to dominate the world. Unfortunately, few listeners will make sense of this failed thriller. The Island of the Day Before is an ingenious tale that begins with a shipwreck in 1643. Roberta della Griva survives and boards another ship only to find himself trapped. Flashbacks give us Renaissance battles, the French court, spies, intriguing love affairs, and the attempt to solve the problem of longitude. It's a world of metaphors and paradoxes created by an entertaining scholar. Tim Curry, who also narrates Foucault's Pendulum, provides a spirited narration. Ultimately, libraries should avoid Foucault's Pendulum, but educated patrons will form an eager audience for both The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before.?James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A great read, intriguing, never standard or dumbed down thriller writing . Eco lets loose his vast store of knowledge.Published 19 days ago by PH
A group of editors gets together to write a parody of a conspiracy theory. What if the parody ends up becoming perceived as the source of ultimate truth for an actual underground... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Matthew Rettino
Umberto Eco, bestselling author of The Name of the Rose (later made into a movie starring Sean Connery), has continued his success with this even more erudite and convoluted... Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2013 by Ian Robertson
"Foucault's Pendulum" is packed full of esoterica, alchemy, Kabala, the occult, secret societies, conspiracy theories, alternative histories, the supposed "other side" of several... Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2009 by D Glover
This book is an intellectual thriller drawing on conspiracy theories involving the Templars and other similar organizations, but is definitely not in the "Dan Brown" vein. Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2009 by I. Mitchell
I've only read the first chapter, but boy does this writer like convoluted, artificial, pedantic prose. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2008 by Meagol
As the title of my review states this was the worst book I never finished. I read a great deal and though not a scholar, I am not stupid either. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2007 by Darth Reader
I love a book that inspires me to look up a particular subject just to learn more. This book does that. Read morePublished on Dec 10 2005 by Alie Berghuis