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The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
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The Prague Cemetery (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Umberto Eco, Richard Dixon (Translator)

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2,2291022,890 (3.3)115
Member:neurodrew
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
Rating:****
Tags:Anti-semitism, Freemasons, Italian unification

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The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (2010)

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English (65)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (8)  Italian (5)  French (5)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (102)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
[CEDUTO] Copia incolla fatto da persone diverse: trattati di strategia politica, ricette, schizofrenia improbabile, un sacco di informazioni inutili - se non per allungare il brodo. Salvo il primo capitolo (o secondo) dove il Simonini parla male di tutti ed è divertente. Poi, a pagina 258, la folgorazione: è ora di cambiare lettura.
A disposizione per scambi. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
I thought this book was fine, but ultimately I found that it explored many of the same ideas as Foucault's Pendulum but to lesser effect.

Also, I was confused as to the purpose of making the narrator a gourmand and having lavish descriptions of the meals he ate scattered throughout the text. I suppose it emphasized the materiality of the man, and draws attention to the divide between his mental work and his physical subsistence, but I thought there might have been some other purpose Eco was inserting the food references for that I missed. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Eco here creates one of the most repellant protagonists that I have read, and puts him on display for examination. The thing that is worse is that, while his character, Simonini, is a fictional creation, the rest of the characters in the book are historical figures who share the hatreds that make Simonini so appalling.
Briefly, the novel is the story of the forger who created the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the Czarist secret service. A thorough-going anti-Semite who also hates women and just about everyone else, he is an amoral sociopath who grew up with his anti-Semitic grandfather in Turin, may have had some nationalistic ideals in the Italian Risorgimento, but found any ideals he might have had undermined by corrupt employers, secret service agents and politicians. In addition to creating several of the major forgeries of the nineteenth century (one reviewer cleverly calls him the Forest Gump of anti-Semitism), he commits several murders and mass-murders and has many people imprisoned in Devil’s Island. In all of this, he inhabits a historical world of duplicity, betrayal, opportunism and genuine nastiness.
Eco shows all of this to illustrate the vile circumstances that produced the Protocols and other historical fictions. He warns the reader that this is a nasty character by introducing him with a long rant in chapter one against Jews, Germans, French, Italians, Jesuits, and women. And he ends the book with Simonini smirking that he has succeeded in setting in motion a campaign to exterminate Jews. The book points to important themes about the use of false stories to justify nationalist and ethnic campaigns, which are highly relevant today. The portrait of the underworld of nineteenth-century politics is as vivid and memorable as Dickens’ portraits of industrial England.
Eco lightens things up with some black humour and cynical observations that have a crystal clarity about what people will believe.
But the novel fails on some key points. First, the story doesn’t really hold together as a novel. The characters are grotesque caricatures, never humans with depth. I think that readers will feel nothing for them but revulsion. The story flits about briefly touching on many incidents but they remain sketchy. What details Eco presents are atmospheric, but only a background while the foreground remains vague.
And I’m not sure how to interpret Simonini’s split personality. Clearly he has a diseased mind, which allows him to forget one part of himself and occupy another personality. When he realizes that this is happening, he writes his journals – the novel itself – and fills in details in his other personality. He finally sees what he is doing in a psychological crisis bringing together his fear of sex, his misogyny and his anti-Semitism. But this seems to let him off too easily. Are the horrors of history to be reduced to some shady operators taking advantage of one man’s psychological illness? Or does his internal antagonism somehow represent the opposing forces in historical fact and fiction?
I think Eco wants to point to the difficulty of understanding history unless you recognize that historical documents are produced in circumstances where not even their creators really know what they are doing. All are suspect, and history must be seen as a matter of interpretation and point of view. The meaning of a document or a message lies not only on its surface, but also on its context. The Protocols (and who knows what other historical stories) are the product of a mentally ill forger working for secret agents with an agenda based on specific tactical objectives, often opposed to each other.
So while the book creates a memorable picture of a historical past that is relevant today, it is weak as a novel. I don’t mind having to spend some time in this repugnant milieu, but I want it to work better as an engaging story. ( )
  rab1953 | Dec 3, 2014 |
l finally got it done after trying to read it while in the busiest of the college semesters. This was the perfect novel to read under such circumstances since its controversial nature made it easy to come back to after a long spell of time in between. I enjoy the writing style and excellent use of historical perspectives. I'll be looking forward to read other novels from Eco's works. I may read this one again, this time at a faster pace, I suspect that if I do so, the novel will have a different flavor. ( )
  kushtaka9962 | Nov 4, 2014 |
l finally got it done after trying to read it while in the busiest of the college semesters. This was the perfect novel to read under such circumstances since its controversial nature made it easy to come back to after a long spell of time in between. I enjoy the writing style and excellent use of historical perspectives. I'll be looking forward to read other novels from Eco's works. I may read this one again, this time at a faster pace, I suspect that if I do so, the novel will have a different flavor. ( )
  kushtaka9962 | Nov 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (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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Epigraph
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.
Płyta CD, format MP3.
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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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