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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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2,122963,087 (3.29)110
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 (60)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (8)  French (5)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
מהתלה עלובה למדי מזכירה את מטוטלת פוקו. בנויה כולה​ על חומרים אמיתייים אבל כל הדיסה הזאת לא מצטרפת לס​יפור או לספר קוהרנטי שמישהו צריך לקרוא אותו.​ ( )
  amoskovacs | Jul 5, 2014 |
We realized we had gone too far; the idea of a three-headed devil who banqueted with the leader of the Italian government was difficult to swallow.

The protagonist of Umberto Eco's novel is not a sympathetic character. His first words to the reader are in the form of an epic rant in which he disparages and reviles every single group he can think of; women, Jews, Catholics, Germans, the French, Jesuits, and Freemasons are among those singled out for his disgust. And Simonini never does a single thing to endear himself to the reader.

And that's my quibble with this outrageous, conspiracy-driven book. It's similar to Foucault's Pendulum, being full of arcane plots and secret societies, and to Baudolino with an opportunistic main character who deals in forgeries. But while Casaubon and Baudolino were engaging characters despite their flaws, Simonini is a guy who inspires only a mild distaste. With a complex plot that requires concentration and a good grasp of nineteenth century European history (among other things), I needed someone to hold on to through the cyclone of events and obscure references.

Simonini gets his professional start forging wills and titles for an unscrupulous lawyer, until that gentleman dies and leaves Simonini his business, in an unexpected will. Simonini is then asked to implicate his friends in an imaginary plot, which then lead to an assignment with Garibaldi's forces in the South of Italy and on to further work in Paris. Simonini is less a spy than someone who is able to enjoy the reputation of a spy and to convey that reputation into a steady income. But his masterpiece, one that takes much of his life to complete and use appropriately, involves an imaginary meeting of rabbis in the Jewish cemetery in Prague in which they agree on a series of protocols that will allow them to control the world.

The conspiracies that Simonini is involved in are fantastic. More than a few times I'd be reading along and think, "hey, that sounds a little like that scandal/affair/coup," only to realize that it was that scandal/affair/coup and that Eco has the entire event based on Simonini's forgeries and groups with devious intentions.

This is a book I struggled with in part because my grasp of the history of that time is shallow and unsteady. I'd like to reread this book in a few years, with a bit of advance reading under my belt. I suspect I will like it more with a second reading. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Jul 1, 2014 |
This was a tough book to follow. *If I understand things right* The narrator(s) were or were not the same person but both hated and mistrusted Jews, Jesuits, and Freemasons. Simonini wrote a paper on old stock and in old style supposedly as a report about a meeting of rabbis in a cemetery in Paris. This document was used to foment hatred agains Jews. People were murdered, others traveled in disguise, and secret meetings held.

It would have helped if I was more familiar with the history of the period. I recognized names but was not familiar with back stories. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was. ( )
  mamzel | May 23, 2014 |
I hate not finishing a book, but life it too short, and there's too much to read, to waste time on the ones that just don't click. Its entirely possible that this is a wonderful book, but after 100 pages, it still fails to hook my imagination, and I'm finding it very tiresome to slog through. Another review mentions that it may be an issue of and Italian writer, writing for an Italian audience for whom the historical background is more familiar, and I'm willing to consider that as a source of the problem, but who knows? I have, previously, loved everything by Eco that I have read, so it is a shock to find this one so unreadable, for whatever reason.

I'm breaking up with this book. Umberto, its not you, its me.... ( )
1 vote duende | Feb 6, 2014 |
With a blurb the ends “But what if, behind all these conspiracies, lies just one man?” it is clear that this book is classic Eco. In this case the religious conspiracies revolve from accusations and counter-accusations against the Jews, the Catholics, the Socialists, and the Masons in the 19th Century. Set mostly in France, the novel follows Simonini, a forger of wills and seller of stolen hosts through the eyes of an unnamed narrator reading his diary and paraphrasing it, purportedly for our ease of understanding.

Simonini awakens at the start of the novel with amnesia, and starts the diary to collect his memories. Starting with his childhood and catching up to the time the diary was written, his history is described in parallel with his attempts to reconstruct the recent past. Initially Simonini appears a rabid anti-Semite although his disdain for both other nations and his own is almost equal, making me wonder if the anti-Semitism was real or a mask for a wider and more general misanthropy.

Slowly he rebuilds a history of creating fake documents to reveal secret conspiracies by first one group then another. Driven equally by the desire to make money and the fear of being punished by the governments he has duped, he is trapped in a spiral of ever-greater false conspiracies.

Moving from employer to employer, he creates an ever-wider cast of false personalities, linked only by a common love of good food. Interspersed into his diary are notes left by a priest, Abbé Dalla Piccola, who lives in a connected flat and also has amnesia. Although it is revealed almost immediately that Simonini has access to make-up and disguises and Dalla Piccola seems to have a better knowledge of Simonini’s private actions than he does, as the novel proceeds the reader’s automatic assumption that Dalla Piccola is merely character Simonini created is challenged.

Eco ends the novel with a short afterword stating that the events and people mentioned were real, apart from Simonini who was created by merging several real people. However his skill in describing Simonini’s creation of false narratives by merging existing documents and events made it seem to me like a knowing wink after a tall tale.

As well as other novel’s by Eco, especially [b:Foucault's Pendulum|17841|Foucault's Pendulum|Umberto Eco|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328875033s/17841.jpg|11221066], the cynical but all to believable attempts of church and state to win hearts and minds through defaming opponents instead of providing a benefit reminded me strongly of Luther Blisset’s [b:Q|94034|Q|Luther Blissett|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328874969s/94034.jpg|414]. ( )
  Tyrshundr | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (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.
 
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)
 
Simonini’s as disgraceful as they come, and those who feel the need to bond with a narrator will be instantly put off by this novel. But “The Prague Cemetery” isn’t trying to make us feel better about ourselves. It’s meant to remind us of the dangers of complacency and credulousness. It’s meant to be unsettling. And by that measure, it’s a huge success.
 

» 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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Book description
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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