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Baudolino Unknown Binding – 15 Oct 2002


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Secker; First Edition edition (15 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0436276038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0436276033
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,449,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In Baudolino the ever ingenious Umberto Eco draws on the medieval legends surrounding Prester John--a mythical Christian emperor of the Far East--to create a sprawling, picaresque adventure yarn.

The eponymous Baudolino is the book's hero and chief, although deeply unreliable, narrator. After a brief foray into Baudolino's youthful attempts at autobiography, the novel opens in Constantinople in 1204, at the time of the Fourth Crusade. Baudolino has helped Niketas Choniates, the chancellor of the basileus of Byzantium, to flee the city. As the men make their way to safety Baudolino begins to recount, with numerous digressions and contradictions, his extraordinary life story. Born an Italian peasant, Baudolino claims to have been adopted as a boy by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Sent to Paris to learn "the art of saying well that which may or may not be true" Baudolino fell in with a band of good fellows and fell in love with his stepmother. After being embroiled in the canonisation of Charlemagne; finding the sacred remains of the Magi and helping Frederick with a siege or two, Baudolino and chums, armed with the Holy Grail, set off on a particularly monster strewn journey to find the holy Prestor John. Teaming with Eco's customary metafictional games, intellectual jokes and elaborate (and even ludicrous) theological discussions, this novel is possibly his most accessible, and arguably enjoyable, since The Name of the Rose. --Travis Elborough

Review

"Without a doubt the author's most playful book, suffused with an atmosphere of fanciful freedom" La Reppublica (Italy)

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Rattisbon Anno Domini mense decembri mclv Cronicle of Baudolino of the fammily of Aulario. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Davywavy2 VINE VOICE on 17 Dec 2002
Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
My experience of Umberto Eco has been mixed - loved 'Name of the Rose', hated ' Island of the Day Before'. However, I consider Baudolino to be a cracking return to form for a talented and inspirational writer.
It is the early C13, and young italian peasant is adopted by the Holy Roman Emperor, setting into motion a chain of events that will have profound consequences on the entirety of Christian Europe.
Eco uses an enteraining narrative to dwell at length upon ideas he also covers in his 'Serendipities'; language, Prester john, lies, and errors that create history. Like George MacDonalnd Fraser, Eco looks at history through the skewed eye of a born cheat, liar and charlatan with a gift for languages and an eye for the ladies. In Baudolino, Eco has created a worthy literary rival to Frasers' 'Flashman' and, like Flashman, Baudolino inadvertently becomes embroiled in great events of his own accidental making.
this is a book for the intellect (Eco doesn't spare you from thinking), the reader (it's trendously well written), and the funny bone (Baudolinos escapades are as funny as anything in Flashman).
Overall, heatily recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Oct 2002
Format: Unknown Binding
Renaissance man Umberto Eco continues to enthrall with a return to the era he so masterfully painted in "The Name Of The Rose." An intrepid, nonparallel story teller he again visits the Middle Ages with Baudolino, a marvelous blend of history and imagination.
It is April 1204 and a northern Italian peasant, Baudolino, is in Constantinople, the resplendent capital of the Byzantine Empire. The city staggers under the relentless onslaught of the knights of the Fourth Crusade who pillage and burn. Oblivious to his own safety Baudolino rescues an important personage, a historian from sure death at the hands of the marauding warriors. This is the person to whom Baudolino recounts his life story - a colorful narrative laced with fantasy and adventure.
Although of humble birth, we learn that Baudolino is rich in two areas: the art of inspired prevarication and an aptitude for learning languages. When still a youngster he was adopted by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa who later sent the boy to the university in Paris. Affable and quick, Baudolino soon made friends in France with those who shared his somewhat reckless taste for adventure.
Together a group of them journey to the east and embark upon a search for a mythical priest-king, Prester John. It is believed that Prester John's domain is a fabled land inhabited by eunuchs, unicorns, beautiful maidens, and bizarre beings with misplaced orifices.

As is his wont the unsurpassed Eco weaves his story with ruminations of weighty matters such as theology, politics, government, and history. He does this with fluid prose and provocative thoughts that inevitably draw readers into the author's unique land of enchantment, a magical place that one is reluctant to leave.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cybergel78 on 17 Jun 2004
Format: Paperback
Baudolino is the medieval equivalent of Baron Munchausen and Don Quixote. Teller of tall tales. Prof. Eco weaves an amazing yarn that imbues medieval history (the 12th century crusade, the sacking of Byzantine, Frederick the Great's death) and the fantastic (the numerous flora and fauna of the land of Prestor John).
Absolutely mesmerizing. As with Eco's previous novels, be armed with a history encyclopaedia, it helps in understanding some of the backdrops and narratives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jun 2004
Format: Unknown Binding
One of the central tenets of medieval society was loyalty owed to those to whom one was tied by fealty or by custom. Baudolino was a northern Italian peasant, and owed loyalty only to the knights and lords with rights over his father's land. Then, an event intervenes and he becomes bound to Frederick Barbarossa (red beard) who becomes the first Holy Roman Emperor. Baudolino's tale explores that medieval loyalty as a theme in the same exaggerated way that Voltarie used Candide to explore optimism.
While spending time with Niketas Choniates, a high court official in Constantinople, as they flee together from the knights of the Fourth Crusade, Baudolino recounts the Candide-like story of his life from the time he met Frederick.
In the process, the favorite themes of the Middle Ages are all considered. Each subject is done in a satirical way that reveals a cynical view of how people could (and probably did) turn each matter to practical personal benefit.
Not satisfied with that lampooning accomplishment, Mr. Eco also draws on the styles of Dante, Cervantes, and Swift while making indirect references to their work.
Within the context of the story, the main historical events are real. Baudolino, like the egotist in us all, builds his tale so that he is the key actor in every event. As they say, success has a thousand fathers while failure has none. The satires on human venality and foibles are unrelenting and almost cynical. I think some would be offended by the fun poked at their own religions here. . . until they realize that Baudolino takes on almost all religions of the time in one place or another in the book.
For those who are fans of The Name of the Rose, Mr. Eco even includes a locked room mystery that will keep you guessing until the last pages of the book.
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