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Foucault's Pendulum Paperback – 1 Jun 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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......
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Format: 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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By A Customer on 19 Oct. 2004
Format: 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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Format: Paperback
'Foucault's Pendulum' takes a brave step. With 'The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail' in mind Eco writes of three Italian publishers, bored with the daily grind, who decide to play a game with history, seeing through a glass darkly and rewriting the record books in such a way as to incorporate the myriad of occultist belief and arcana their authors' produce.
Beginning around the Crusades and the formation of the Knights Templar the men race through a new explanation of historical events towards the present day, 'outing' a conspiracy theorist's dream target in the process.
The skill of the novel lies in Eco's masterly account of how the protagonists gradually become caught in their lie, beginning to see more and more 'truth' behind their own fiction. What is more (and at this point, perhaps, I should mention that I do not necessarily count myself a stupid man), the author manages to set things so firmly in the reader's mind, and the publishers make so convincing a case, that the reader is left pondering, somewhere in the back of a usually cynical perception, 'Well, what if...'
Eco is a man who proved in 'The Name of the Rose' that he knows everything about everything - or at least as close to it as a man is likely to get - and his writing presents it to us in masterly, tight narration. The novel is filled with swathes of bizarre facts by which he builds out his fiction and yet he never once becomes boring. This is the man who previously talked for pages on the minutae of 13th Century Papal politics, remember, and made it more like a thriller than most pulp fictionists could dream of.
Read him and expand whichever horizons you have.
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