Foucault's Pendulum
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Foucault's Pendulum

By (author) Umberto Eco

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Three book editors, jaded by reading far too many crackpot manuscripts on the mystic and the occult, are inspired by an extraordinary conspiracy story told to them by a strange colonel to have some fun. They start feeding random bits of information into a powerful computer capable of inventing connections between the entries, thinking they are creating nothing more than an amusing game, but then their game starts to take over, the deaths start mounting, and they are forced into a frantic search for the truth.

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  • Paperback | 656 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 38mm | 421.84g
  • 01 Jun 2001
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • English
  • 0099287153
  • 9780099287155
  • 22,023

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Author Information

Umberto Eco is Professor of Semiotics at the University of Bologna and enjoys an international reputation as a philosopher, historian, literary critic and novelist. He lives in Milan.

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Review quote

"Brilliant, funny, encompassing everything you ever wanted to know about practically everything (including numerology, James Bond's foes, and the construction of sewers), this book is both extraordinarily learned and well plotted." Sunday Times "Endlessly diverting... Even more intricate and absorbing than his international bestseller The Name of the Rose." Time "Brilliant... A novel that is deeper and richer than The Name of the Rose." New York Times "An intellectual adventure story, as sensational, thrilling, and packed with arcana as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Count of Monte Cristo." The Washington Post "Umberto Eco is literature's great magician... He offers us many passages of brilliance, and treats us to a Shakespearean alternation of paroxysm and intimacy, madness and wisdom. There is something here for everyone. His genius affords his readers a selection of delights that will make their heads spin." Le Monde

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Review text

A first-rate, highbrow mystery packed with wit, satire, and erudition. As he did in The Name of the Rose (1986), Eco begins here with a teasingly slow windup followed by a narrative that kicks into high gear about one-fifth of the way in. From the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiens, the museum of technology in Paris, Casaubon narrates the tale of how a literary gag got out of hand, leading to violence, murder, mayhem. Casaubon has written a thesis on the medieval Templars - a martial order of monks founded initially to protect Crusaders en route to Jerusalem, and eventually disbanded by Pope Clement. Templar legends - in varying degrees of silliness - have been cropping up ever since: the movement went underground; it was buried within the Rosicrucians; it all connects with Atlantis, Stonehenge, the pyramids, etc. Casaubon meets up with Belbo, an underpaid scholarly editor amused at the heaps of New Age submissions crossing his desk - much of it, inevitably, touching upon a secret history of the Templars. Belbo's boss - a wizened operator of literary scams - wants to cash in on some New Age trade and suggests that Casaubon and Belbo throw together a history of the occult. Joined by Diotallevi, an authority on cabalistic word permutation, and with the help of a word processor, the team undertakes construction of a bogus study of the occult, a random sorting of hermetic writings: "The challenge isn't to find occult links between Debussy and the Templars. The problem is to find occult links between, for example, the cabal and the spark plugs of a car." The result is a book uncovering the Plan, an underground movement operated by the Masters of the World. Too busy chortling over their PC, Casaubon, Belbo, and Diotallevi don't consider that even an outrageous theory can tread on dangerous ground - until Belbo disappears and Casaubon begins a serious search for the Masters. A rich, comic work moving between points of erudition and parody, captured here with a smooth translation from William Weaver. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Flap copy

"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. "From the Paperback edition.

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