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Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

by Umberto Eco

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,739226249 (3.87)522
"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. 290
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (hankreardon, Sensei-CRS)
  2. 203
    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. 42
    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
    Aegypt 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 / Down there 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 522 mentions

English (197)  Spanish (7)  French (5)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Swedish (2)  Czech (1)  Portuguese (1)  Greek (1)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (227)
Showing 1-5 of 197 (next | show all)
imaginary conspiracy turns out to be real
  ritaer | Jun 6, 2021 |
It's a little hard to take a book seriously when in the first couple chapters it describes a word processor thusly:

"The screen is a galaxy of thousands and thousands of asteroids, all in a row, white or green, and you have created them yourself. Fiat Lux, Big Bang, seven days, seven minutes, seven seconds, and a universe is born before your eyes, a universe in constant flux, where sharp lines in space and time do not exist. No numerus Clausius here, no constraining law of thermodynamics. The letters bubble indolently to the surface, they emerge from nothingness and obediently return to nothingness, dissolving like ectoplasm. It's an underwater symphony of soft linkings and unlinkings, a gelatinous dace of self-devouring moons, like the big fish in the Yellow Submarine. At a touch of your fingertip the irreprable slides backward toward a hungry word and disappears into its maw with a slurrrp, the darkness. If you don't stop, the word swallows itself as well, fattening on its own absence like a Cheshire-cat black hole."

If you'd like to read that sort of vivid, nearly-purple, prose describing a plot that wouldn't be out of place in a Dan Brown novel, this is the book for you. Overall I found this book slow and strange, with a lot of build up for very little pay off.

However, more than any other fiction I've read in my adult life, this book stretched my vocabulary. Here's a list of the words I learned from this book along with their definitions:

adynata - Hyperbole taken to such extreme lengths as to insinuate a complete impossibility.
agathodemons - From Greek, "Noble spirit", a guardian ghost.
arterioschlerotic - Related to hardening of the arteries, which is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.
arthrosis - A joint, or joint disease.
askesis - Self-discipline or self-control, as in an Ascetic.
athanor - A self-feeding digesting furnace used by alchemists that maintained a uniform and durable heat.
auscultation - Listening to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope.
batida - A Brazilian smoothie, most commonly made with passion fruit, cashew juice, and coconut milk.
bombardon - An archaic instrument like a bass tuba.
brilliantine - A hair grooming product intended to soften and gloss men's hair.
camauro - The style of small round cap worn by the Pope; his hat specifically.
chthonic - Referring to the Greek deities that lived in the earth (as opposed to "Olympian").
ci-devant - A term with a negative connotation for dispossessed nobles who refuse to recognize the change, specifically in Post-Revolutionary France.
consistory - From Latin "consistorium", “assembly place”, a gathering of ecclesiastical persons for the purpose of administering justice or transacting business.
contretemps - French for "setback".
corbeil - A stone carving of a basket of fruit or flowers as a feature on a building.
cromlech - A group of prehistoric standing stones arranged in a circle, or a stone burial chamber.
decans - In astrology the decans are 36 segments of the ecliptic that consist of 10 degrees each, dividing each of the twelve signs of the zodiac into thirds.
equitation - Equitation is the art or practice of horse riding. Specifically, equitation may refer to a rider's position while mounted.
extrasystoles - A premature heart contraction independent of the normal rhythm.
ex-voto - A votive offering to a saint or to a divinity given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made."
fauteuil - A style of open-arm chair with a primarily exposed wooden frame from early 17th century France.
gematria - Gematria is the calculation of the numerical equivalence of letters, words, or phrases; assimilated from Assyro-Babylonian-Greek into Jewish culture.
goety - Witchcraft, demonic magic, or necromancy.
hawser A nautical term for a thick cable or rope used in mooring or towing a ship.
hepatoscopy - Examination of the liver of sacrificial animals for signs or portents.
Hesychast - A follower of a specific Eastern Orthodox Christian sect of mystics who believed that they could potentially see divine light.
hieratic - Of or associated with sacred persons or offices. The term for the priestly Egyptian cursive script.
hylic - Of or relating to matter, opposite of "psychic". In the gnostic belief system, hylics, also called somatics (from Greek σώμα (sōma) "body"), were the lowest order of the three types of human. The other two were the psychics and the pneumatics (from Gk πνεύμα (pneuma) "spirit, breath"). So humanity comprised matter-bound beings, matter-dwelling spirits and the matter-free or immaterial souls.
infulas - A fillet of white wool, worn on the head by ancient Roman priests; A head covering worn by early Christian priests.
irredentism - From Italian for "unredeemed", any political or popular movement intended to reclaim and reoccupy a "lost"; territorial claims are justified on the basis of real or imagined national and historic (an area formerly part of that state) or ethnic (an area inhabited by that nation or ethnic group) affiliations.
isomorph - An organism that does not change in shape during growth.
ithyphallic - Of or pertaining to the erect phallus that was carried in bacchic processions.
justitia aequatrix - Latin phrase meaning, "Justice evens out the odds" (Literally "Justice balances those things").
landgrave - A noble title created by Kings in Germany and Scndanavia in the 12th Century to undermine Duchal power, a "provincial count" with rank and authority (though not holdings) equal to a Duchy.
lubricious - Wanton and lecherous.
ludibrium - From Latin, denotes an object of fun and derision, or a capricious game.
lusus - Lusus is the supposed son or companion of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and divine madness. Sometimes used to mean a freak or monster.
menhir - A standing stone or lith.
Metempsychosis - A philosophical term in the Greek language referring to transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death.
mythomane - A person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.
navigli - Navigable interconnected canals around Milan, Italy.
numinous - Holy, indicating the presence of God.
Omphalos - Derived from the Greek word for "navel", a religious stone artifact representing the foundations of the earth.
onomastic - Of or belonging to the origin, history, and use of proper names.
orgone A pseudoscientific and spiritual concept described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force.
pantagruelian - Relating to the character Pantagruel, title character of a 1532 novel, the huge son of Gargantua, represented as dealing with serious matters in a spirit of broad and somewhat cynical good humor.
pirogue - A small flatwater boat.
plilately - The study of stamps.
rachitic - Inflammation of the spine .
scrofula - A form of tuberculosis in the lymph nodes of the neck.
shekhinah - he English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning "dwelling" or "settling", which denotes the dwelling of the divine presence of God.
simoom - A strong, dry, dust-laden local wind that blows in the Sahara.
simsum - From Hebrew "contraction/constriction/condensation", the idea that God had to contract his infinite self to allow for finite creation.
soutane - Cassock, an ankle-length Clerical garment.
spagyric - An Alchemical extract, from Greek "spao", meaning "I collect" and "ageiro", "I extract."
synarchy - Greek "Joint rule" or "harmonious rule", the term is used to denote rule by a secret elite.
telluric - From Latin "Tellus", meaning "earth". A telluric current is an electric current that moves underground.
thurible - A metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services.
unheimlich - Something that is strangely familiar, uncanny rather than just strange.
zeugma - From Greek, , literally "a yoking together", a grammatical phenomenon in which a single word is used with two other parts of a sentence but must be understood differently in relation to each. For example, "Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it." ( )
  wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3658959.html

I read this soon after the English translation came out, and allowed myself to be impressed in the wake of The Name of the Rose. I am older and more cynical now, and I must admit it did not read as well thirty years later. I was once fascinated by conspiracy theories and even at one point by the cabala, and these days I have put away (some) childish things and no longer find these things quite as interesting. Sure, Eco's target is precisely the people who do take these things seriously, but he and his characters somewhat slip over the boundary. The gratuitous fridging of one of the (slender) women characters at the end jarred when I first read it and still jars now. Though it's a bit redeemed by the laundry list moment. Still, There are certainly three books I have read recently which were a third of this length and from which I got more enjoyment. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | May 17, 2021 |
An incredible book... I would write a full review, but where to begin? This is almost unlike anything else I have ever read - only Bolano's 2666 comes close. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | May 1, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 197 (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 (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary 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
Vicens, AntoniTranslatorsecondary 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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"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.

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