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Foucalt's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
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Foucalt's Pendulum (original 1988; edition 1990)

by Umberto Eco

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12,660179188 (3.86)412
Member:gillianbaskin
Title:Foucalt's Pendulum
Authors:Umberto Eco
Info:Picador (1990), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (1988)

  1. 210
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (hankreardon, Sensei-CRS)
  2. 173
    The Dumas Club 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. 73
    Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (ateolf)
  4. 52
    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.
  5. 74
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea (craigim, ateolf)
  6. 54
    Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (billmcn)
    billmcn: The best paranoid alternate history novel ever written. Also the best novel ever written.
  7. 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.
  8. 22
    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)
  9. 00
    The Damned by Joris-Karl Huysmans (Torikton)
  10. 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.
  11. 11
    Flicker by Theodore Roszak (ari.joki)
    ari.joki: Secret societies, conspiracies, mass media...
  12. 22
    The Book of God and Physics: A Novel of the Voynich Mystery by Enrique Joven (bertilak)
  13. 22
    The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Patangel)
  14. 24
    Lempriere'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.
  15. 14
    The Fire by Katherine Neville (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Numerology, arcane science, secret societies and foreign languages bind these two works together.
  16. 14
    The Moses Legacy by Adam Palmer (Farringdon, hankreardon)
    Farringdon: Umberto Eco is essentially an up-market Dan Brown
  17. 16
    The Holy Blood and the 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 412 mentions

English (159)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (5)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  Czech (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Greek (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (179)
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
My first contact with Umberto Eco was through the movie The Name of the Rose. It's an outstanding movie - an intricate and entertaining plot, a great setting, excellent actors. Since then I've intended to read the book and decades have passed. Then came 'The Prague Cemetery' (PC) which I read and then I continued back through Eco's timeline as an author and read Foucalt's Pendulum (FP). I'm sort of glad I read them in this order, because FP in that retrospective light looks like a poorly executed first attempt at 'toying' with the same themes that return in PC. He should probably taken the best ideas and scenes from both books and combined them into something else, something better. Because, there are a lot of interesting characters and scenes i FP and Perhaps for some, it's worth reading despite it being rather mediocre. An example of the similar themes in the books is a text featuring Comte Saint Germain, written by one of the main characters friend's(Belbo), where a scene is unmistakably the germ to 'Captain Simonini' and his criminal activities in the Paris sewers.

Perhaps it's because I'm quite knowledgeable when it comes to occult and esoteric matters that Eco's presentation of them seems so thin and sloppy to me. The big secret itself is rather banal and unimaginative. Quite unexpected when reading other reviews on how dense the text is and how challenged you'll be by all the references and twists and turns of the story. Hardly. What you experience is actually the author himself getting so snared by all the cool occult themes, conspiracy theories and historical characters he finds so fascinating, that he forgot to keep his discipline to make it a good story.

I suggest that you don't invest your hard earned spare time to read this. Instead I recommend 'The Morning of the Magicians' (Le Matin des magiciens), which was written by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in the 1960s. It's full of the 'original' occult/esoteric/conspiracy theories and you avoid being bored by a banal plot. ( )
1 vote boris_balkan | Jan 10, 2015 |
This is a tough slog. Very convoluted story line with tons of superfluous gobbledygook, making if difficult to stay in contact with the actual story line. I'm probably going to bail on it. Stay tuned.


Okay. I've stuck with it. Now on p. 380. It took getting this far to finally see where the story was going. Now we have a plot. Hooray!

Done! Not exactly my favorite, though. ( )
  junebedell | Jan 2, 2015 |
Epic, impressive... just kind of over my head much of the time. And hard to follow until about page 200. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
What a tedious, poorly-written piece of crap this is! Does that sound harsh? Yeah, well, you probably didn't just read this like I did. Foucault's Pendulum is about a publishing company who, initially rejects books based on conspiracy theories in favor of books about legitimate, provable facts. However, the occult is selling well in the bookstores, so the group decides to start publishing a line of books about a wide array of nonsense to cash in on it, which in turn leads to a hoax in which they publish some false information, with disastrous results!

Sounds like a simple plot, right? Well, It takes several hundred pages for it all to come together, and every bit of it is painfully unpleasant to read. Umberto Eco is obviously very knowledgeable about the topics he has written about here, but he couldn't construct a compelling sentence to save his life. Look, I read a large variety of books, including literary fiction and classics. Like most people, I've come across the occasional dense and difficult-to-read book from the 1800's. And I've actually been accused of liking books that have no plot. But this? This isn't dense or plotless, it's pretty simple, in fact everything the author tries to cleverly allude to is spelled out before the end anyway, but it's just an utter and absolute failure in regard to the execution. It's not difficult to read from a technical standpoint, I didn't have trouble following anything that was happening, I just couldn't be bothered to give a crap, regardless of the occasional brilliance shimmering through the muck.

I'm sure the author is a great professor, and he certainly seems like an intelligent man if I were to hazard that assumption through his writing, I don't question that at all. But with that said, I'd sooner put my head in a wood chipper than read another one of his books. What a miserable and unrewarding experience this book was. ( )
  Ape | Nov 24, 2014 |
This is one of those books I feel it should have enjoyed more than I did. It's an incredibly intelligent book of Templar secrets and conspiracy theories. However, it didn't quite work for me.

The story involves three friends work at a publishing house that is used to seeing manuscripts exploring and supposedly revealing the secrets of the Templars and other occult sects. When a man comes to tell them he has discovered a secret code, they figure he is mad like many of the others and send him on his way. Several days later he disappears under mysterious circumstances. Inspired by the mystery, the friends begin to spin a story based on the texts they've read, inventing the Templar Plan. It's a game, a fake. Or so it seems.

The premise sounds exciting, but it was bogged down and drawn out. Around 90% of the book is in dialog between the three friends or between the narrator and other characters, talking history, theories, counter theories, myths, and so forth about the Templars, Rosecrutians, and others. Hundreds and hundreds of pages, so many facts an dates and names with periodic untranslated phrases in Latin and French, so much that I would sometimes grow glassy eyed while reding and facts seemed the blur together. I couldn't keep it all straight. I like my history books to read like stories; this is a novel that reads like a history textbook.

Other than the narrator, I never full connected with or cared much about the characters and even the narrator I wasn't that much into. Any threat or tension was buried under the mountain of information. The Plan created by the three friends doesn't even start to take place until over halfway through the book. By the time the danger starts to really show itself and actual action becomes mixed in, it's almost too little too late. The climax felt anticlimactic and it all seemed more work than it was worth.

It's clear that Echo is a scholar, because the amount of research that had to have gone into this book boggles the mind. I know of at least one friend who loves this book and I can see why people like it. But ultimately it was not for me. ( )
  andreablythe | Aug 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 159 (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
 

» Add other authors (64 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boeke, YondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krone, PattyTranslatorsecondary 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 015603297X, Paperback)

Bored with their work, three Milanese editors cook up "the Plan," a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. This produces a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled—a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum. But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real, and when occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their quest to gain control of the earth.

Orchestrating these and other diverse characters into his multilayered semiotic adventure, Eco has created a superb cerebral entertainment.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:01 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Three Milan editors, who have spent much time rewriting crackpot manuscripts on the occult, decide to have a little fun. Their plan encompasses the secrets of the solar system, Satanic initiation rites, and Brazilian voodoo. A terrific joke--until people begin to disappear.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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