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Numero Zero by Umberto Eco

Numero Zero (2015)

by Umberto Eco

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English (40)  Dutch (6)  Italian (4)  Catalan (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All (59)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Korruption, Intrigen, Verschwörungstheorien
Mailand, 6. Juni 1992, nachts. Bei dem Journalisten Colonna ist eingebrochen worden. Das Dossier mit brisanten Informationen hat man nicht gefunden; Colonna sieht jetzt sein eigenes Leben bedroht. Auch er spielt ein Doppelspiel: Für den Commendatore Vimercate soll er eine Zeitung lancieren, die mit schmutzigen Gerüchten über die gute Gesellschaft arbeitet. Zugleich schreibt er als Ghostwriter ein Enthüllungsbuch über den programmierten Skandal.

Korruption, Intrigen, Verschwörungstheorien - Umberto Eco porträtiert unsere Gesellschaft in einer rasanten Kriminalgeschichte zwischen Wirtschaft, Politik und Presse. ( )
  grinkebooks | Mar 20, 2018 |
Over a year ago, I started to read Umberto Eco's Il pendolo di Foucault but I seem to be stuck at around two-thirds of it and can't get round to finishing it (not given up yet...). In the meantime, I came across Eco's last novel - Numero Zero - in its idiomatic English translation (by Richard Dixon) and completed it in a couple of days.

At first glance, the novel seems quite close in concept to Foucault's Pendulum. In the latter book, a group of three editors, inspired by their research into the occult, decide to cook up a work which connects the strands between various esoteric theories until fiction seems to take over. The plot of Numero Zero is built around a similar harebrained scheme.

We are in 1992 in Milan, at the time of Magistrate Antonio di Pietro's "Mani Pulite" investigation into political corruption and kickbacks. The hapless protagonist, failed writer Colonna, is recruited by one Simei to collaborate on a fledgling newspaper - "Domani". There's a twist though - Domani will never see the light of day. A team of journalists will prepare dummy issues - "number zero" - which will contain just enough innuendo and gossip to worry certain high-ranking individuals. The newspaper's financier - the mysterious "Commendatore" - plans to agree to "withdraw" the venture in return for entry to the Italian political inner sanctum. Trouble starts brewing when one of the journalists - Braggadocio - starts researching a piece on Mussolini, a story close to his heart. Braggadocio believes that Il Duce was not killed in 1945 and that he was spared death as part of a right-wing plot. According to the journalist, most of the "unexplained" episodes in recent Italian history, from Piazza Fontana to the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I are marked by the shadow of Mussolini. It all seems far-fetched, until Braggadocio is murdered and his theories do not seem so unbelievable after all.

As in most of his works (and not just his fiction), Eco explores the fine line between truth and falsehood, history and fiction, hence his penchant for drawing literary material from historical and contemporary conspiracies. Unlike in Foucault's Pendulum and, to a lesser extent, The Prague Cemetery, the occult does not feature here. Through the voice of Braggadocio, Eco supplies us instead with an occasionally wearying list of political mysteries, allegations of cover-ups, and copious references to P2, Vatican scandals, politicians and terrorists. It sounds like one of the wilder broadcasts of Italian programme Chi l'ha Visto?. And as with this programme and others of its ilk, a judicious dose of historical fact in Braggadocio's theories make some of the crazier allegations moderately plausible. I can imagine Eco rubbing his hands in glee whilst piling conspiracies on each other.

So what is it that distinguishes this novel from others in Eco's oeuvre? For a start, it's lighter and leaner. At under 300 pages and with its snatches of humour and witty dialogue, it's a breeze of a read compared to Eco's earlier tomes, although admittedly there are some harder-going passages. On the other hand, the social satire is delivered less subtly than in other of his works. For "Commendatore" we can easily read "Cavaliere" (Berlusconi) and so we are meant to do. And when Simei embarks on a cynical description of media manipulation, it's as if Eco has taken the microphone.

This is by no means Eco's best work, but readers dazzled by "The Name of the Rose" who would like an introduction to his other books could do worse than pick up Numero Zero. At least they're less likely to get stuck halfway through as happened to me with Il Pendolo di Foucault... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 30, 2017 |
I love Umberto Eco and his book "Foucault's Pendulum" changed my life. This book, sadly, did not. I don't need for every book by an author to be such a big deal, but this was brief and predictable and vague - three words that I never associate with Eco's writing. I am ultimately very sad that this was his final book. ( )
  Eric.Cone | Sep 28, 2017 |
English Edition

Colonna is a middle-aged writer who has never really made a success of his life. Dropping out of University he has had a series of failed jobs and relationships and lives in a run down apartment. Approached by a professor he worked under at university Colonna is commissioned to write a book about the launch of a new newspaper, a newspaper that is defined to fail. The money is good and Colonna accepts the job, working as a journalist on the launch issues but knowing that the plug is about to be pulled. Then 'stories' are pulled for no good reason and the journalists are asked to produce investigations to order. One, Braggadocio, exposes a set of complex conspiracy theories about the supposed death of Mussolini and the involvement of the Vatican and the Mafia. Then Braggadocio is murdered...
I am a big fan of Eco's writing but he is not the most straightforward or direct to read. In a previous book, Foucalt's Pendulum, the reader was lured into a complex plot which involved a conspiracy theory. Or did it? I really loved the development of paranoia and interpretation in that story. However it was a real doorstop of a book. This is completely different.

Eco picks up that idea about crucial events in history being the subject of a huge cover up and that a small group of people discover the truth but he places it in the paranoid Italy of the early 1990s. The book is short, very tight and an exhilarating read. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
I just finished reading it and there are two main feelings I got from it: disgust and fear. Disgust from the cynical meetings at the newsroom, because the "brilliant" editor treated the fictional readers as stupid and shallow and because the "professional" journalist did nothing but agree with everything he said. The fear came from Braggadocio conspiracy theories but mostly from the proven reality in them. Killings, torture, terrorism that are everywhere. Would they have more sense if they were the result of a greater plan? even if the plan is to subdue us all? ( )
  julialejah | May 20, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kangas, HelinäTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"A novel about the murky world of media politics, conspiracy, and murder. A newspaper committed to blackmail and mud slinging, rather than reporting the news. The murder of Pope John Paul I, the CIA, red terrorists handled by secret services, twenty years of bloodshed, and events that seem outlandish until the BBC proves them true. A fragile love story between a failed ghost writer, and a vulnerable girl, who specializes in celebrity gossip yet cries over the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh. And then a dead body that suddenly appears in a back alley in Milan."--… (more)

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