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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The shaggiest shaggy dog story of all.
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...
Published on 17 Jun. 2006 by Gregory S. Buzwell

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work But Ultimately Rewarding
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...
Published on 25 July 2011 by B. D. Hopkins


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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The shaggiest shaggy dog story of all., 17 Jun. 2006
By 
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
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......

For a novel which is primarily about obscure branches of knowledge and the play of ideas the characters are actually surprisingly well drawn: Casaubon, the narrator of the story wondering just what it is they have stumbled upon; Belbo with his melancholy sense of the colourful road not travelled; Diotallevi, mild and knowledgeable, getting slightly drunk on mineral water, and the mysterious Aglie, who appears to have all the answers. Or, perhaps, all the answers bar one...

If you're looking for something imaginative and challenging, something which could perhaps be described as the Da Vinci Code's immeasurably smarter brother, then this could be for you. Demanding, but well worth the effort.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work But Ultimately Rewarding, 25 July 2011
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating worlds within worlds, 16 Dec. 2008
By 
Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE post-modern masterpiece, 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
Simply one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. Well, 'simply' might not be quite the right word, but wonderful it is anyway. A wonderful exploration of post-modernism, and an analytical destruction of conspiracy theories and theoriests, all wrapped up in a thrilling mystery. Any philosophy student should recognise the "four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics." and will have great fun deciding where their lecturers lie on the scale. The final unraveling of the mystery is a sheer delight, note perfect. This is the vastly superior version of the story that was essentially retold in The Prague Cemetery - its not as easy reading, but is wel lworth the effort.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging but requires keen attention, 19 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish that i hadn't bothered, 5 May 2014
By 
Berts5 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
A truly frustrating literary experience.

I read "In the Name of the Rose" back when i was 18 (2001) and loved it. I have no idea why it took me so long to try another of Eco's novels but, having got the end of "Focault's Pendulum", it would take some convincing to get me to try another.

Part of the problem in my case was that the plot synopsis on the back cover suggests that this is an historical thriller. It is not.

The first forty pages or so are testing in the extreme for the reader: dense with academic meanderings and an ambitious plot. When we do finally get to grips with a vague plot line, Eco takes on various long and tedious diversions; both in plot (a stint in Brazil being the most obvious example) and also in terms the pervasive academic narrative that persists between the main characters.

You could argue that the main plot itself only really advances in the first and last forty pages of the book. When things finally get going, it all happens so quickly and so implausibly as to render having waded through the main body of the text far from worthwhile.

Eco's genius is undoubted; the research (and knowledge) that underpins the novel is actually pretty outstanding. My problem with it is that i don't think that this is deployed in a particularly interesting way in terms of the narrative development. Without ruining the plot for anyone; the main gist of the plot centres on the ability to make connections between seemingly any random events. To this end, Eco is having a joke at the expense of the Templar fanatics (Dan Brown fans of the world?) and, i suppose, other conspiracy theorists.

The problem with this is that, once you understand that this (The Plan) is the crux of the plot, much of the actual academic speech between the characters becomes fairly tedious: it is quite hard to follow (there is a lot of it!) and, long before the end of the book, you are aware that it is no longer integral to the plot.

The interesting parts of the book from my perspective were Belbo's character development through the excerpts of his childhood experiences that are revealed to us throughout.

If Templar history, tradition and theories are of interest to you (and you are open-minded enough to resist the mild jab being made by the author), then this will be of interest to you. If you are looking for Dan Brown-esque "thrillers", this is unlikely to tick your boxes. For me, I just wanted more characterisation, a better worked plot and far less historical / academic theorising "filler".
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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
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Umberto Eco in his prime here, 6 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Hardcover)
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 grandchildren!

Anyways, after I've read The Name of the Rose, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, the Prague Cemetery, I thought it is time to get this masterpiece. Good thing I did not start reading it before other Eco's books as you need a lot of background knowledge to really like it. Even though other books were not about templars and stuff, they still referred to them. It was really a hardcore book. It took me like two weeks to finish and in the end I was getting a bit bored of the whole historical aspect, it seemed too scientific to entertain much, but glad I went through with it. I don't remember much of the plot now, but the fact that that made up 'Plan' is in fact a reality.... It sort of reminded me of the movie 'Rosemary's baby' where the main character was giving birth to Satan's baby and then was murdered by real life satanists. Again fiction becoming reality. Just that in Foucault's Pendulum is fiction becoming reality being fiction. It was a hard read, if you like history fiction I would suggest Prague Cemetery as it was easier to read for me, this requires much more background knowledge of the templar history to really enjoy it and Eco's writing style is a bit difficult if you've not encountered it before.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it!, 19 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
Foucault's Pendulum is very dense at the beginning and you wonder if you need wikipedia open to accompany your reading, but important concepts become clear as you're reading. The beauty of the novel is that it makes you question what is real, what is fiction, what is science and what is psychology and as you approach the end of the novel, everything ties together in what is beautiful, shocking and will stay with you for the rest of your life.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and in a genre of its own, 14 Dec. 2004
By 
Frederico Munoz "fsmunoz" (Portugal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Foucault's Pendulum (Paperback)
In a day were the "The Da Vinci Code" is the bed time book of scores of families -- and other books are riding the popularity of it -- "Foucaults' Pendulum" remains the undisputed and unmatched book on "conspiration theories" and alternative christian interpretation. It's interesting that a work plainly marked as fiction and that doesn't pose for anything else is more well researched and backed than books that try to sell an "authoritary" look.
This book, while not without some small shortcomings, is adictive and extremely compelling. The Templars, the Priory, Christ, R+C, the Cathars, the FM, the Grail, all this and much, much more is connected in a game-like manner by the main characters in the book. The dialogues are witty and the characters well-developed.
It's harder to read than other books of the genre, but in a way "Foucault's Pendulum" is in it's own genre... the sheer ammount of information presented, the use of several languages, the use of unheard of symbols and facts, all combines to make the book a bit dense but very rewarding.
Eco, at the same time he exposes the leaps of faith and logic that some theories make in the way of reaching a suitable conclusion, shows the joy and motivation in the process of contructing alternative theories and even fleshes out some extremely interesting historic connections.
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Foucault's Pendulum
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Paperback - 1 Jun. 2001)
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