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Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

by Umberto Eco

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,240221249 (3.86)514
"As brilliant and quirky as THE NAME OF THE ROSE, as mischievous and wide-raning....A virtuoso performance." THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Three clever book editors, inspired by an extraordinary fable they heard years befoe, decide to have a little fun. Randomly feeding esoteric bits of knowledge into an incredible computer capable of inventing connections between all their entires, they think they are creating a long lazy game--until the game starts taking over.... Here is an incredible journey of thought and history, memory and fantasy, a tour de force as enthralling as anything Umberto Eco--or indeed anyone--has ever devised.… (more)
  1. 270
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (hankreardon, Sensei-CRS)
  2. 183
    The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (P_S_Patrick, stephaniefeldman, Sensei-CRS)
    P_S_Patrick: These books have a fair bit in common. They are both intense and thrilling mysteries, involving the occult, conspiracies, books, murders, and are both set mainly in Europe. What The Club Dumas does, Foucalt's Pendulum does better, but that is just my opinion. I have known people give up on reading Foucalt's Pendulum because of its length, its abundance of complicated detail, and its demands on the readers concentration, but any serious reader who enjoyed the Club Dumas should enjoy this more. Anyone who enjoyed Eco's story, likewise, should enjoy the other book, but don't expect it to be quite as good, though I don't think there is a surplus of work in this genre that can compare, with this being more or less the next best thing that I have read.… (more)
  3. 82
    The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Two brilliant conspiracy stories, with heaps of secrets and scret societies, wicked or plain mad characters. Both well written.
  4. 83
    Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (ateolf)
  5. 74
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea (craigim, ateolf)
  6. 32
    The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Patangel)
  7. 32
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (freddlerabbit)
    freddlerabbit: See the Name of the Rose recommendation above - I find Foucault's even more analogous here because Name of the Rose is a bit more plot-driven than the other two, where Foucault's and Anathem both have as much as 40% pure theory-disguised-as-dialogue.… (more)
  8. 54
    Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (billmcn)
    billmcn: The best paranoid alternate history novel ever written. Also the best novel ever written.
  9. 21
    The Book of God and Physics: A Novel of the Voynich Mystery by Enrique Joven (bertilak)
  10. 00
    Ægypt by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
  11. 11
    Everything Is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-ups by Robert Anton Wilson (ehines)
    ehines: A good primer on a lot of the conspiracy theories that drive this book.
  12. 00
    The Damned by Joris-Karl Huysmans (Torikton)
  13. 00
    Alamut by Vladimir Bartol (ursula)
    ursula: Alamut tells the story of the assassins of the Alamut fortress reference in Foucault's Pendulum. It also has a philosophical bent that will probably appeal.
  14. 11
    Flicker by Theodore Roszak (ari.joki)
    ari.joki: Secret societies, conspiracies, mass media...
  15. 24
    Lemprière's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: These two books have a fair bit in common. Both are dense, demanding, historical, and are thick with intrigue, conspiracy, and foul play. Thrilling stuff.
  16. 14
    The Fire by Katherine Neville (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Numerology, arcane science, secret societies and foreign languages bind these two works together.
  17. 14
    The Moses Legacy by Adam Palmer (Farringdon, hankreardon)
    Farringdon: Umberto Eco is essentially an up-market Dan Brown
  18. 16
    Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent (Moomin_Mama)
    Moomin_Mama: One is a cracking, very readable conspiracy theory. The other is an intelligent thriller which makes fun of such books, their writers and their readers. Both are great fun
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» See also 514 mentions

English (191)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (5)  French (4)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Czech (1)  Portuguese (1)  Greek (1)  Hebrew (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (218)
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
This book is a conundrum to me. I liked the story of three book editors accidentally enmeshing themselves in the world of conspiracy theory. I liked the philosophical discussion of why we believe in things like Great Global Conspiracies. I even thought some of the history was interesting.

But LORD, did Eco need an editor. In parts of this book, the signal-to-noise ratio is distressingly low as Eco's talking heads sit and discuss the intricacies of Templar and Rosicrucian history for page after page after page. My patience wore thinner and thinner as Eco name-checked his way across all of European history and added absolutely nothing to the story. You could easily shave a full hundred pages out of this book and have a much better and less infuriating book. ( )
  mr_thrym | Aug 1, 2020 |
Three pals crack the code
the only thing that matters
being right, dumbass.
( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
The two stars are more a reflection of my enjoyment of the book than of the book itself. There were simply too many details to keep track of in the constant re-invention of The Plan, and I felt like I was missing out. This may improve on a re-read. I'm still not sure all of the digressions were necessary.

With regard to the use of other languages in the novel, there are untranslated passages in French and Latin throughout. These passages add texture but are not strictly necessary to understanding the plot. I mention it here because there are entire paragraphs in French and I would have found them frustrating were I unable to read them. I did get frustrated with some of the Latin. ( )
1 vote natcontrary | Jun 22, 2020 |
The best and the worst thing I can say about this novel is that it's a difficult read. Sure, the author is Italian, but that doesn't automatically make it difficult, only a a novel that I've read out of it's normal language. No, the novel isn't even difficult in the traditional sense, where the sentence structure is hard to follow and there might be four hundred commas per dozen pages. The writing is quite nice. No, the novel is difficult because it requires the reader to read and understand a whole substructure of literature that can be loosely classified as occult, or at least marginally so, otherwise a grand majority of the in-jokes and satire would be lost on the reader. Mr. Eco is fantastically well-informed and has done an amazing job at his research, and despite the fact that the novel IS tongue-in-cheek, it's hard not to get the impression that our author is a seeker of knowledge. This will also be true for anyone who gets into this book. We seek, we want knowledge, we want wisdom. I include myself in this grand voyage because I, too, was sucked into the world presented; and I, too, needed to know, to understand, to make the connections.

For my young self, I read this novel as a pure soul, and like Diotevelli, I got corrupted. I had never realized that an occult world like this had existed. The second time I read this novel, I had read at least a dozen books either related or referenced in this novel, and by then I understood a greater majority of the in-jokes, and more importantly, I understood the book's message to stay grounded at all times, or you might fly away in the world of conspiracies or get lost in the labyrinths of the diabolicals. So whether you're a Jungian seeker, a literary delver, a philosopher, or an occultist, I can guarantee a wild ride in this novel, perhaps one the best ever written.

The actual plot is not that important, so don't read this novel expecting a novel like Dan Brown writes, 15 years after Eco wrote this. Like all of the best books, you get out of it what you put into it, and I admit freely that I put a lot of time and energy into this one, spending years attempting to decipher the full stories within stories within stories, periodically shocking myself from the dream to ground myself before delving into the abyss once again. Is the actual action of the novel that great? No, not at all, but the underlying threads more than make up for it.

This is one of my favorite books because it make me work for it; it made me think and research and delve so that I would be properly armed for the second read. And now that I've had my third read, I'm satisfied and amazed. I am still missing half the book in my researches. Perhaps in another decade, when I read this again I'll have the perfected Mileau in my mind. Then again, probably not. That's the problem with this subject... the depths are greater than any other field of study, and the most occluded.

You, dear reader, can't see it on me, but I've got a satisfied smile on my face and I'm sighing every few seconds in reflection of the read.



Update 2/21/16:

You will always be missed, Mr. Eco. You were a bright light in the heavens. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Very nice and interesting book which I read many years ago, long before Librarything cam to life. When I catalogued it I noted that the Hebrew text on page one has been printed upside down. I think it is a text from Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag Talmud Eser Sefirot. The editor should correct it after so many years
1 vote johanvdwalle | Apr 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
Umberto Eco has launched a novel that is even more intricate and absorbing than his international best seller The Name of the Rose. Unlike its predecessor, Foucault's Pendulum does not restrict its range of interests to monastic, medieval arcana. This time Eco's framework is vast -- capacious enough to embrace reams of ancient, abstruse writings and a host of contemporary references or allusions...
True believers, skeptics, those waffling in between: all are in for a scarifying shock of recognition.
added by Shortride | editTime, Paul Gray (Nov 6, 1989)
 
You may call the book an intellectual triumph, if not a fictional one. No man should know so much. It is the work not of a literary man but of one who accepts the democracy of signs. .... To see what Mr. Eco is really getting at, the reader of his fiction or pseudofiction should consult his scholarly works, where observation and interpretation are not disguised as entertainment. I don't think ''Foucault's Pendulum'' is entertainment any more than was ''The Name of the Rose.'' It will appeal to readers who have a puritanical tinge - those who think they are vaguely sinning if they are having a good time with a book. To be informed, however, is holy.
 
I doubt if we will see a more exhilarating novel published this year, and you don't have to take a reviewer's word for it: can 600,000 Italians be wrong?
added by qball56k | editThe Guardian, Jonathan Coe (Oct 12, 1989)
 
U ovom delu Eko se lucidno podsmehnuo svim teorijama zavere od srednjeg veka do danas. Posle čitanja ovog romana sigurno je da će mnogi čitaoci pohrliti da obogate svoja saznanja o alhemiji, kabali i srednjovekovnim tajnim društvima. U ovom romanu Eko se lucidno podsmehnuo svim teorijama zavere od srednjeg veka do danas.
added by Sensei-CRS | editknjigainfo.com
 
U ovom delu Eko se lucidno podsmehnuo svim teorijama zavere od srednjeg veka do danas. Posle čitanja ovog romana sigurno je da će mnogi čitaoci pohrliti da obogate svoja saznanja o alhemiji, kabali i srednjovekovnim tajnim društvima. U ovom romanu Eko se lucidno podsmehnuo svim teorijama zavere od srednjeg veka do danas.
added by Sensei-CRS | editknjigainfo.com
 

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, UmbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boeke, YondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krone, PattyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pochtar, RicardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Костюкович… ЕленаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Only for you, children of doctrine and learning, have we written this work. Examine this book, ponder the meaning we have dispersed in various places and gathered again; what we have concealed in one place we have disclosed in another, that it may be understood by your wisdom.

  —Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, De occulta philosophia, 3, 65
Superstition brings bad luck.

  —Raymond Smullyan, 5000 B.C. 1.3.8
Dedication
First words
That was when I saw the Pendulum.
Quotations
I am not for one moment denying the presence in your house of alien entities; it's the most natural thing in the world, but with a little common sense it could all be explained as a poltergeist.
It was becoming harder for me to keep apart the world of magic and what today we call the world of facts. Men I had studied in school as bearers of mathematical and physical enlightenment now turned up amid the murk of superstition, for I discovered they had worked with one foot in cabala and the other in the laboratory.
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Disambiguation notice
ISBN 9781593972165 is an abridged audiobook edition of Foucault's Pendulum narrated by Tim Curry. It is 6 hours and 38 minutes long which is approximately only 1/3rd of the original work. This edition should not be combined with unabridged editions of Foucault's Pendulum. Thank you.
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