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The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

The Prague Cemetery (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Umberto Eco, Richard Dixon (Translator)

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2,4681072,483 (3.28)124
Title:The Prague Cemetery
Authors:Umberto Eco
Other authors:Richard Dixon (Translator)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade (2011), Edition: None, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library, E-books
Tags:Anti-semitism, Freemasons, Italian unification

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The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (2010)


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English (69)  Spanish (13)  Dutch (8)  Italian (5)  French (5)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
This would have been a terrific non-fiction book. Lots of fascinating facts and factoids from the second half of the 19th century, and a lesson in how prejudices and conspiracy theories are rehashed and re-rehashed and re-re-rehashed. Unfortunately, as a novel, this gets very tiring as the plot advances very slowly, and mostly in very predictable ways. It also doesn't help that the "Narrator" creates some sort of modernistic estrangement effect, as if the reader were in any danger to identify with any figure in this novel. What's more, the characters are pretty shallow, and the main plot device, the split personality, just seems contrived in my view. Bottom line: great if you want to learn about history, but if you seek suspense, read the Name of the Rose. ( )
  Frederic_Schneider | Jan 23, 2016 |
I've read most of Umberto Eco's fictional work and I especially liked Foucault's Pendulum. This book disappointed me. A blurb read, "what if , behind these conspiracies ... lay one lone man?" . This book carefully sets up such a man. This man is moved about Europe as needed to thread together a set of historic forgeries, among surrounding characters drawn wholly from the actual history. I further suppose that no things these are given to have done are contradicted by the record. The degree of scholarship needed to bring this off is the impressive part. One could quibble: the split personality of the protagonist apparentty needed to get this to work is sort of cheating - is the result really still one man? But pass it by.

My trouble is with the accomplishment itself. Okay, suppose one man indeed did forge them all. Why should I be amazed? The man himself is shown as a jobber - other people, not themselves particularly interrelated, set him the actual tasks. This was surely the case for the bordereau of the Dreyfus case and for the Protocols as described. He may be amoral, but he is working to no Grand Plan of Evil. He just forges things to order.

As remarked by other reviewers there were some quite puzzling things. I, too, noticed the food thing in particular. What was going on with that? I lost track of allies / opponents in some places - Masons, Jesuits, and various anti-semitic groups. Who was talking to whom?

The very ending did intrigue me: did the protagonist blow himself up? I went looking for such a real event in 1898 in the Paris subway systrem but did not find anything.
  jjmiller50fiction | Dec 28, 2015 |
  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
I had to do a lot of extra research to fully understand the various conspiracies that the main character was involved in but Eco never tried to make it easy for the reader. An multi-layered masterpiece. ( )
1 vote LJMax | Aug 21, 2015 |
Reading anything by Umberto Eco always makes me feel a little smarter, and that is true with his novel, The Prague Cemetery. However, this story is more clever than it is enjoyable, probably because the main character is so repulsive I was loathe to spend any of my valuable reading time with him.

Eco is a masterful writer. He chronicles the foibles, eccentricities and gullibilities of humanity, and in this novel, as in my favorite of his, Foucault's Pendulum, he revisits the bizarre terrain of conspiracy theorists, where freemasons and Jesuits are embroiled in elaborate plots, at least in some imaginations.

To appreciate Eco's cleverness, it would help to be acquainted with European history, particularly the latter half of the 19th century. Only the main character, the split-personality Captain Simonini/Abbe Dalla Piccola, is fictional; the supporting cast includes personages famous, infamous and obscure, using and being used by Simonini to thwart or further various intrigues. I frequently interrupted reading to look up names and events on the internet.

I would have enjoyed this story more if it had one prominent non-vile character, perhaps a nemesis to Simonini. ( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Eco’s other sly coup – a running feature in all of his fiction, from The Name of the Rose onwards – is to teasingly pretend that distant history can have no relevance to modern times while at the same time demonstrating just how urgent such ideas are.
Eco's mastery of the milieu is evident on every page of "The Prague Cemetery."
If the creation of Simone Simonini is meant to suggest that behind the credibility-straining history lurks a sick spirit compounded of equal parts self-serving cynicism and irrational malice, who can argue? And even if the best parts of “The Prague Cemetery” are those he did not invent, Eco is to be applauded for bringing this stranger-than-fiction truth vividly to life.
The real story, then, is one that “The Prague Cemetery” hints at but does not for all its polymath erudition manage to capture: our impotence in the face of an obvious forgery, an absurd pastiche against which the ramparts of reason afford astonishingly feeble protection.
added by rab1953 | editHa'Aretz, Benjamin Balint (Nov 17, 2011)
Eco’s 19th century shocker has an Italian, Captain Simonini, as the man responsible, the only fictional character in the book. The story involves Freemasons against Catholics, Garibaldi against the Bourbons, Russian spies, German double agents, murky murders, plotting prelates, black masses and orgies. If all this sounds like a richly sensational read, you couldn’t be more wrong.
added by Shortride | editDaily Mail, John Harding (Nov 17, 2011)

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arenas Noguera, CarmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dixon, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kangas, HelinäTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordang, AstridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Since these episodes are necessary, indeed form a central part of any historical account, we have included the execution of one hundred citizens hanged in the public square, two friars burned alive, and the appearance of a comet—all descriptions that are worth a hundred tournaments and have the merit of diverting the reader's mind as much as possible from the principal action.

—Carlo Tenca, La ca' dei cani, 1840
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A passerby on that gray morning in March 1897, crossing, at his own risk and peril, place Maubert, or the Maub, as it was known in criminal circles (formerly a center of university life in the Middle Ages, when students flocked there from the Faculty of Arts in Vicus Stramineus, or rue du Fouarre, and later a place of execution for apostles of free thought such as Étienne Dolet), would have found himself in one of the few spots in Paris spared from Baron Haussmann's devastations, amid a tangle of malodorous alleys, sliced in two by the course of the Bièvre, which still emerged here, flowing out from the bowels of the metropolis, where it had long been confined, before emptying feverish, gasping and verminous into the nearby Seine.
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Op grootse wijze neemt Umberto Eco in zijn nieuwe, grote roman De begraafplaats van Praag de misschien wel meest megalomane eeuw aller tijden onder handen: de negentiende eeuw. Plaatsen van handeling: Turijn, Palermo en Parijs.De geschriftvervalser Simone Simonini is een nauwkeurig observator van zijn eigen tijd. En hij ziet veel: een hysterische sataniste, een abt die twee keer sterft, lijken in een Parijs riool, jezuïeten die samenspannen tegen vrijmetselaars, vrijmetselaars en Mazzinianen die priesters wurgen met hun eigen darmen, de krombenige, aan artrose lijdende Italiaanse held Garibaldi, de bloedbaden tijdens de Parijse Commune van 1871 waar zelfs pasgeboren ratjes worden gegeten, onwelriekende kotten waar tussen de absintdampen bomexplosies en volksopstanden worden voorbereid, nepbaarden, zogenaamde notarissen, valse testamenten, diabolische broederschappen en zwarte missen. Simonini ziet veel, maar hij maakt nog veel meer mee, en bijna als vanzelf wordt hij steeds dieper betrokken in het complot dat zal leiden tot de lasterlijke Protocollen van de Wijzen van Zion, die de gehele twintigste eeuw het antisemitisme zullen aanwakkeren.Maar de vraag is of Simonini er alleen maar zijdelings bij betrokken is. Is zijn invloed niet veel groter? De Protocollen zijn een vervalsing, maar van wie precies?

De begraafplaats van Praag is een aangrijpende en belangrijke roman, die een verontrustend licht werpt op het historische en politieke Europa van de negentiende eeuw, met zijn complotten, aanslagen en samenzweringen.

Umberto Eco (Alessandria, 5 januari 1932) is een van de bekendste en succesvolste schrijvers van Europa. Dertig jaar geleden werd hij wereldberoemd met zijn historische roman De naam van de roos, die miljoenen lezers zou betoveren, en die werd verfilmd met Sean Connery in de hoofdrol. Van De begraafplaats van Praag werden in Italie binnen enkele weken al meer dan een half miljoen exemplaren verkocht, en het boek zal verschijnen in 35 landen.
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"19th-century Europe--from Turin to Prague to Paris--abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. In Italy, republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. In France, during the Paris Commune, people eat mice, plan bombings and rebellions in the streets, and celebrate Black Masses. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating conspiracies and even massacres. There are false beards, false lawyers, false wills, even false deaths. From the Dreyfus Affair to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Jews are blamed for everything. One man connects each of these threads into a massive crazy-quilt conspiracy within conspiracies. Here, he confesses all, thanks to Umberto Eco's ingenious imagination--a thrill-ride through the underbelly of actual, world-shattering events. "--… (more)

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