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Foucault's Pendulum

I just finished reading Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. It is the damnedest  book I've ever read, and I've read a whole lot of books.
It's the story of three Italian intellectuals...one graduate student doing a thesis on the Knight's Templars, and two employees of a publishing house, who try to invent their own story of approximately a bazillion secret societies and attempt to link  them all together. It's basically a grand unified conspiracy theory.

It gets incredibly dense. The Knights Templar,Rosicrucians, Illuminati, and Freemasons are all mentioned. So are the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. The Bacon/Shakespeare theory enters in (there's actually quite a bit about Francis Bacon) with an interesting twist...that Bacon wrote Don Quixote in English and Cervantes just translated it into Spanish.


The holocaust is also worked in. The theory doesn't really involve holocaust denial, but it does give the secret "real" reason that Hitler went after the Jews. I won't give that away here, but it involves the hollow earth theory.

This book is so jam-packed with detail that Anthony Burgess said it needed an index. I was actually thinking the same thing as I read it ("wait...when did they discover this about Francis Bacon and the neo-Templars...damn, no index!"). But forget me. I am the sort of  person that details escape. Burgess, in addition to being the dude who wrote Clockwork Orange, is a scholar of some reknown. He has written books about Shakespeare and Joyce.Yet even he was overwhelmed by the wealth of minutia here.

This book has been compared to the DaVinci code. Eco heard this comparison so many times he read the DaVinci Code himself and decided that Dan Brown is more like a character in this novel. Except that there's three main characters. So imagine three Dan Browns collaborating on another DaVinci code while you watch it happen. That's what this novel is like.

I probably should have taken more time with this and read it more slowly. Maybe someday I will read it again and be able to give it a less flippant review.

I think taking  your time with it is the key. If you read only one book this year, read Foucault's Pendulum. But if  you're going to read more than one, skip this and wait until next year. You'll need the whole year.