Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

foucaults-pendulum-cover  I was going to make this my first video post, however it may be rambley, so I will save myself for something shorter.  I base this on my other (other) obsession, trashing The Da Vinci Code and I don’t want to that….again.

Having said that, let’s get that out of the way first.  Although it was published after Foucault’s Pendulum it adds nothing to the genre whatsoever, this book is superior in all ways.  Not to mention the fact that it doesn’t attempt to make you believe the subject matter.

The main plot centres around three book editors who are getting jaded with all the crackpot manuscripts about secret societies, aliens and all the rest of it and decide to amuse themselves by picking random statements and feeding them into a computer to come up with the ultimate conspiracy.  naturally the game becomes something much more sinister as time passes.

Whereas Dan Brown et al, want you to believe in the conspiracy and get bogged down in explaining the intricacies of it all, Eco doesn’t insult his reader, he creates a highly entertaining plot and his theories are a lot more varied and vibrant.

As you would expect there are more references than you can wave a stunned cobra at and nothing seems to silly to put in, Here’s a brief rundown of some of  the varied references in the book just off the top of my head:

Tom and Jerry, Fantamos, Jean Valjean, Barbara Cartland, Jules Verne, Paracelsus, John Dee, the Druids, Francis Bacon, The Bogomils, Ultima Thule, Fu Manchu, Kurtz, Martin Luther, Afro-Brazilian religions, alchemy, numerology, Scottish people, key stones, the Rosicrucians, Mu, Star Wars, the list goes on and on.

There is a lot of esoterica mentioned and despite my enthusiasm for this book it wont be to everyone’s taste,  I’m sure some people will prefer The DVC’s simpler style and quick read value, which are of course appealing but there is a sense of emptiness about the whole book when you actually sit and think about it, whereas with this book you really do get your moneys worth.

At 641 pages it will take quite a lot of time to read,  it’s also relaxed in its pacing when setting up of the scene  but after a slow build up, the fun really begins in the last half of the book and you realise that everything is relevant, patterns start to emerge and the question is: is this Eco’s doing or am I seeing patterns that – perhaps some of – the author didn’t intend?.

At the heart of the book is a look at the human desire to willingly interpret life to your tailor made views and beliefs and not be the detached, objective person that we all think we are. Eco shows how we view certain knowns and perhaps we should question them and look at them with detachment and proper scrutiny.

We all love conspiracy theories and what is masterfully concocted here is a Grand plan, an intertwining and mingling of such a vast array of references written in rich vocabulary which add depth and a fascinatingly skewed vision for a New World Order. Where madness and complacency collide to form a monstrous ‘truth’, a mystery that resonates through the ages,

It’s a playful take on history lampooning the gullibility of folk whilst at the same time creating a Masterplan that draws in the reader who knowingly accepts the deception, yet see the feasibility in what is being suggested. So once again wordy wordsmith Umberto Eco writes a fine book, it’s not my favourite of his works, which is probably Baudolino but it blows all other pseudo historical books out of the water. It really does quite literally have it all including a multiple languages for all you linguistic buffs out there.

12 Replies to “Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco”

    1. The Name of the Rose was great, I think the only one of his fiction books I have struggled with was The Island of the Day Before but that was my first Eco book and wasn’t prepared for how awesome and indepth the guy writes. The guy is a magical writer.


  1. Eco is one of my Mom Person’s favorites! She has quite a library of his books. I believe that The Island of the Day Before is her favorite! Thanks for this insightful review!


  2. I have not read any of his works. This one sounds pretty fascinating. It is definitely going on my list. Thanks Ste J. 🙂


    1. He is an extremely talented writer. My favourite phrase was about Francis bacon,when one of the characters exclaims “Bacon was a pig”. Quality writing right there.


  3. Oh a video post! That will be awesome fun…will stay anticipatious for that indeed! 🙂 Alas, Ste J….my ‘to read’ book list is growing with each of your posts it would seem 😉 I love that you always give such an insightful and thorough review…enticing me to go on the journey through the pages soonest!


    1. I always enjoy piling the choices onto you, it’s exciting to be in that position. I feel I must review some bad books to redress the balance to round my service. Who knows…depends what I read next I suppose. After a slight computer malfunction, I will try and get video’s up soon.


  4. This one was standing on my windowsill for two whole years. A friend borrowed it to me when she embarked on a trip to Florida. Two years! Not once have I felt that the time has come to open it..
    Well, I am sure, some day it will happen. I love Eco.


    1. I am impressed that you have the capacity, nay the will to not read this book. It isn’t my favourite Eco but it’s a fine intelligent story that blows Mr Dan Brown out of the water. Next stop for me will be his On Literature methinks.


      1. I don’t have the will not to read it. It was just not it’s time. But it will come, one day…
        I am very looking forward to your On Literature post!
        And, we will agree not to mention Dan Brown again haha


        1. It is on the list…although looking at the content pages it does make me feel a bit under read. Still it does inspire me to get my read on again. I look forward to your opinions when you finally do read it.


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