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Foucault's Pendulum [Paperback]

Umberto Eco
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

1 Jun 2001
Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel to have some fun. They start feeding random bits of information into a powerful computer capable of inventing connections between the entries, thinking they are creating nothing more than an amusing game, but then their game starts to take over, the deaths start mounting, and they are forced into a frantic search for the truth

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Foucault's Pendulum + The Name Of The Rose (Vintage Classics) + The Prague Cemetery
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099287153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099287155
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Brilliant, funny, encompassing everything you ever wanted to know about practically everything (including numerology, James Bond's foes, and the construction of sewers), this book is both extraordinarily learned and well plotted." (Sunday Times)

"Endlessly diverting... Even more intricate and absorbing than his international bestseller The Name of the Rose." (Time)

"Brilliant... A novel that is deeper and richer than The Name of the Rose." (New York Times)

"An intellectual adventure story, as sensational, thrilling, and packed with arcana as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Count of Monte Cristo." (The Washington Post)

"Umberto Eco is literature's great magician... He offers us many passages of brilliance, and treats us to a Shakespearean alternation of paroxysm and intimacy, madness and wisdom. There is something here for everyone. His genius affords his readers a selection of delights that will make their heads spin." (Le Monde)

Book Description

A brilliantly executed intellectual detective story from the author of international best seller The Name of the Rose. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The shaggiest shaggy dog story of all. 17 Jun 2006
By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
This is not an easy read, indeed the first forty pages or so make some of the most intense demands on the reader of any book I have ever read, but if you have a love of the mysterious, the obscure and the sinister it is well worth persisting with. The way the story unfolds is quite ingenious and you will, if nothing else, learn a huge amount of obscure history along the way.

The basic premise of the plot is actually quite simple: three editors in a Milan publishing house specializing in wildly whacky works on the mystical and the occult begin, for their own amusement, to make speculative connections between the various way-out theories put forward in the manuscripts submitted for publication. To their amazement it soon transpires that they might be on to something, something so important that their own lives are suddenly put at risk.

Eco clearly had great fun with this, throwing every crack-pot theory and esoteric religious belief into the mix. The Templars are there, of course, as are the Rosicrucians, the darker branches of the Catholic church and the Masons. The Hollow Earth theory is given a spin, Khabbala is discussed, Dr Dee puts in an appearance and the measurements of the great pyramids in Egypt provide the answers to nearly everything. It is all beautifully explained, so outlandishly implausible that maybe, just maybe, it has to be true......
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating worlds within worlds 16 Dec 2008
By Andrew Dalby VINE VOICE
This is not an easy book to read but now you have wikipedia at your fingertips at least some of the terminology will not be incomprehensible. Like all of Eco's books there are stories within stories about books about imagined books and about real and impossible conspiracies.

The real message of the book is Eco's views on story telling and "popular delusions - conspiracy theories" things that we all want to be real even if they are not, and how the story can escape from its authors.

It covers the same territory as made familiar by the da Vinci code - templars and hidden treasures and the bloodline of Christ, with hidden societies and dark. Cabalism plays an important role in the story especially the view that all the stories of the world can be made by rearranging all the words of the Torah. The chapters are broken into sections that correspond to the pathway of the journey to enlightenment. This is very much like Borges' idea of an infinite library from Labyrinths.

So it is worth the struggle to see a brilliant mind trying to understand the world about us and the worlds we create for ourselves.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work But Ultimately Rewarding 25 July 2011
I came to Foucault's Pendulum after greatly enjoying Name of the Rose and this is a very different book altogether.

The premise can be read on the blurb and makes the book come across as an 'intellectual thriller'. The first few chapters and the last few are indeed those of an intellectual thriller and the hard work is in-between. It could be argued that skipping the most part of the book and just reading the parts from the periscope to the periscope would give a great short-story. However you'd miss a lot of seawater and 2+2=5 not to mention an insane amount of historical and occult conspiracy. All that is great stuff but is bogged down by frustrating attempts of characterisation: a 100 pages, or so it seemed, is given over to the main character going to South America and I was bored witless with the wooden conversations and monologue. Later he becomes a father which plays no part in anything much and the relationship with the mother serves one purpose, that of a discovery concerning a 'shopping list', which was indeed very funny but long-winded.

In fact, no reviews I've read have mentioned the humour in this book: I laughed out loud on a number of occasions.

I would've given Foucault's Pendulum 4-stars if Eco had edited to a stricter regime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging but requires keen attention 19 Mar 2008
This is the third of Eco's novels I have read. I am enamoured of his style and ultimately, this is why I enjoy his novels. As an Italian he displays mastery of the literary genre in another language - a remarkable ability.

Ultimately, I was unable to appreciate this particular novel's deep knowledge and arcana. That is a failing on my part. I imagine that many readers may face the same degree of bewilderment at the level of historical detail that fills many of the pages, and for those that can, you are in for a treat.

My admiration for Eco is definetely for style. I still enjoyed Foucault's Pendulum, but for the sound of the words rather than the plot.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Random Enlightenment 19 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Whilst the plot is deep and complex, there is a fundamental theme that conspiracy theories (for which the Grail, Knights Templar and Masons are significant entities) can be construed as a set of alternative, unrelated, connections. The view that conspiracists will read into a connection any conspiracy that is required to be made as long as the joins are logical seems to flow. The by-product is a caution from Eco against a mis-guided logic along the Python lines: if it floats, it must be made of wood!
The staggering amount of additional literature that is suggested can be read opens the opportunity for conspiracy unbounded, but should be taken with care.
It is a very difficult book to become involved in and is, like a lot of Eco's work, very complex and particularly dry. Saying that, it is worth the effort (and effort it is) to get to the cliff-hanging conclusion.
To be read and enjoyed but not taken in a literal sense.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
very good book promptly delivered - my wife is enjoying it immensely and then moving on to The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr
Published 4 months ago by Peter Ethelston
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish that i hadn't bothered
A truly frustrating literary experience.

I read "In the Name of the Rose" back when i was 18 (2001) and loved it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Berts5
1.0 out of 5 stars which are you?
if you are able to endure beyond page 20 , you are likely one of the following: Umberto Eco; a person of intellect vastly superior to that of the rest of the human race;... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. M. Young
3.0 out of 5 stars Dull by his best standard
It's a potpourri of every edition about arcane stuff, no question, and if that tickles your fancy, so be it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Angus Jenkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Umberto Eco in his prime here
The book was delivered really quickly and in perfect condition. Bought it just because it was hardback as I hate these paperback books, they won't live long enough to be read by my... Read more
Published 8 months ago by ieva
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex, intriguing, profound, sometimes funny, always challenging
A great 'intellectual' novel, ingenious story, excellent characters and psychological observations, but definitely hard work when the historical Plot expands and is explained... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jeremy
1.0 out of 5 stars not able to read
Unfortunately the type text is so small even with good light and prescription glasses I struggle to read which is a real pain
Published 9 months ago by Richard G
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex, (Over)long, But Impressive
This 1988 novel by Italian author and philosopher Umberto Eco really is an amazing work. Having recently read Thomas Pynchon's equally ambitious (and, arguably, even more... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Keith M
1.0 out of 5 stars Paperback falling apart!
The pages are falling out by page 30, cover coming apart.

The worst paperback to date.

For a lightweight travel version, this will not work.
Published 15 months ago by Tanja Larsson
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable
I have read the opening couple of chapters about 10 times trying to get into this book, and not managed to get past them. It is awful.
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
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