Foucault's Pendulum
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Foucault's Pendulum

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  35,254 ratings  ·  1,950 reviews
Foucault's Pendulum (original title: Il pendolo di Foucault) is a novel by Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco. It was first published in 1988; the translation into English by William Weaver appeared a year later.

Foucault's Pendulum is divided into ten segments represented by the ten Sefiroth. The novel is full of esoteric references to the Kabbalah. The title of th...more
Paperback, 652 pages
Published June 2001 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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Will
Imagine three sarcastic, over-educated editors who work at a vanity publisher. Owing to their occupation, they naturally end up reading an abundance of books about ridiculously grand conspiracy theories and occult societies - the Freemasons, the Templars, the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati (Bavarian and otherwise), and so on. So they start to play a sort of free-association game: Let's connect all these things, using the same half-mad logic as the authors of these books, into one grand design. Thu...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
This book consists of predominantly two things: (1) Endless dialogue by mentally unbalanced paranoid conspiracy theorists; (2) Endless dialogue by scholars who study mentally unbalanced paranoid conspiracy theorists. This is not a bad book, but its not an easy read, and not really a particularly enjoyable one. My enjoyment, or lack thereof, was tempered by the fact that I was apparently trying to read one story, but the author was trying to tell a different one. Put another way, I was trying to...more
Ian Paganus
PLAYFUL:

An Opening Gambol

While I first read this novel in 2009, I bought a second-hand copy in May, 2013 for $7, which I thought was a bargain price for the degree of pleasure it's given me.

Only when I was half way through did I notice a sheet of white paper slipped into the last pages.

It shows four hand-drawn circles, each of which contains the name of a city and a number.

If the numbers represent years, they cover 21 years. If you add 2 and 1, you get the number 3. If you examine the gaps betw...more
Traveller

Descartes said: Cogito, ergo sum.
Eco says: I seek meaning, therefore I am human.

It's very hard to succinctly describe exactly what this novel is. From looking at the plot description, you may be forgiven for assuming that it is a book like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, or Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. There is an overlap in the fact that all three books deal with conspiracies that revolve around the mystical and mythical order of the Knight's Templ...more
Dolors
Dec 25, 2013 Dolors rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patient seekers of Truth
Shelves: read-in-2013
“ “Us two? All three of us are in this. If we don’t come out honorably, we’ll all look silly.”
“Silly to whom?”
“Why, to history. Before the tribunal of Truth.”
“Quid est veritas?” Belbo asked.
“Us,” I said.” ” (p.435)


Truth? What is truth? Truth is relative. Or isn’t it?
The fact that Umberto Eco portrays one of his characters quoting Pontius Pilate’s assertion that truth is hard to ascertain with some sort of consistent resonance of a Nietzschian Superman who has passed “beyond good and evil” i...more
Nathan
Jul 19, 2007 Nathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults with large vocabularies
Shelves: fiction
The best book I have ever read. It is the creepiest, deepest, and most brilliantly executed piece of literature. Umberto Eco is a genius, and if I could have a conversation with anyone, it would be him.

The book, however, is very difficult to read. The language is dense, and in the first 200 pages, it beats you over the head with history of the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians. All of this history is necessary to make the second half cause you to shit your pants. It's basically about these gu...more
Ben Babcock
I read a lot, and the people around me are used to seeing a new book in my hand every day or couple of days. Naturally, they ask me what I'm reading, usually in a way that implies I should divulge more than just the title and the author, which are plainly visible on the cover. How do I respond when I'm reading something so sublime and transcendental as Foucault's Pendulum? It defies ordinary description of plot, because Umberto Eco has again unified his narrative with his themes and characters t...more
Andy
Jun 10, 2007 Andy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Very patient Eco fans (is there any other kind?)
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 p...more
Gerard
One of those books where the author tediously says next to nothing, and all the semi-litterati can't figure out what he's trying to say, so they conclude he must be brilliant. A wasted effort by an otherwise talented (so I hear) author, and that portion of the gullible public that assumes that something profound is being said so long as they can't understand it.
Jason
Between his home and his summer home, Umberto Eco has some 50,000 books to his name. I believe that he has read every one of them, some probably twice. Which is to say that this is an erudite novel. A warning to the reader: you will be wading into lists of reference materials. You are about to be presented with conversations that run for pages that are dedicated solely to the minutiae of conspiracies, most about the Templars. I warned you.

But this book is not just about secret societies and the...more
Terry
I think it could be validly opined that all of Umberto Eco’s novels primarily exist to show off how much he knows. They are all jam-packed with esoteric knowledge from such specialized and varied sources that one wonders how a single human being managed to fit them all into his head, let alone turn them into fodder for a story. In this sense Eco seems much like his own creation of Casaubon from this novel, “the Marlowe of culture”: one able to sift through the vast repository of arcane and seemi...more
40 Forte
Eco once said that author Dan Brown (Angels & Demons, DaVinci Code, etc) might have very well been one of the characters he created in Focault's Pendulum. Eco uses Focault's pendulum to showcase the absurdity in over analyzing ancient legends or secret societies and in the process creates an intellectual and dizzying tale that stands in direct contrast to the Dan Brown's of the world writing for the pop culture masses.

The work is a discourse in secret societies (Templar Knights, Freemasons,...more
Jan-Maat
This is a novel that contrasts the acceptance, and delight, in the world as it is with the consequences of the desire to read in meanings to everything that we see about us.

In Eco's earlier book,The Name of the Rose, the detective mystery was parodied and this is taken one step further in this novel. The Detective mystery assumes that there is a mystery that can be solved. It invites investigation. In this novel the constant working deeper into mysteries produces only more obscurity ("the penis...more
Michael
Foucault’s Pendulum may not be for everyone and I will try not to give away any of the story. Personally, I really enjoyed the way it was written. I went into the book knowing it was about Secret Societies and conspiracy theories, but as I kept reading the book, I started to think it was real. I had to snap myself out of this thought process. The story follows a group of publishers who started deconstructing and analysing what they knew about the Templers, eventually they were drawing connection...more
Paul
Eco likes to show off his knowledge and the depth of his reading and he does so with a great flourish in this novel. It’s a difficult one to classify as it crosses genres and throws all sorts of references into the pot. It is really part thriller, part detective with a good dose of conspiracy theory and meandering down the byways of historical obscurity. Of course the whole thing may just be a postmodern joke!
There are lots of nods, winks and jokes throughout. Eco was good friends with the Frenc...more
Andreea
This was my second attempt at Umberto Eco's novel, the first time I only got through about half of the book before giving it up in favor of, simply put- more "exciting" books. I picked it up again because I had to read a book about secret societies for the Summer Challenge on The Next Best Book Club and the only alternative was Dan Brown's Angels and Demons (and I'm not that keen on Dan Brown's writing style). In the end, once I tried to think everything through, the book proved to be amazing an...more
Heidi
Maybe this will make me look stupid... but this book was far too brainy, academic and philosophical to be a really engrossing read. I had to make myself slog through certain portions of this book -- Eco is clearly brilliant, but needs to learn to keep a plot together. Too much extraneous information, too many digressions, too much detailed background information, and you distract from the plot.

This is not an easy read. This book will take patience, ambition, and perseverence to read. It's worth...more
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
Jadi, jika ada yang bertanya Foucault's Pendulum tentang apa, maka saia akan mendeskripsikannya sebagai berikut: kisah detektif, dunia komputer, mekanika fisika (judul buku ini diambil dari nama alat peraga seorang ilmuwan Perancis utk membuktikan bahwa bumi benar-benar berotasi dari barat ke timur dengan cara teramat sederhana sekaligus tak terbantahkan), filsafat, metafisika, sejarah, puzzle, teka-teki matematika, perbenturan budaya, mitologi, sejarah agama, Taurat, okultisme, misteri hermetik...more
Scribble Orca
Nov 25, 2010 Scribble Orca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a brilliant read
Forget Dan Brown and others of the same ilk. This is the original rolled-neatly-into-one conspiracy theory to end all others. Eco is a Professor of Semiotics in Italy, and uses his vast understanding of symbolism to create a compelling read.
Leonard
Casaubon, Belbo and Diotellevi become bore with reading occultist manuscripts, and decided to connect various documents to create the Plan, a Knights Templar conspiracy to take over the world. According to the Plan, the Templars have found the Telluric Current’s source, the center of earth’s energy, and they partitioned a map of its location into six pieces. When placed under Foucault’s Pendulum in Paris’s Conservatory at a specific time, the intersection of the pendulum’s arc and a light beam w...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I started Foucault’s Pendulum with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation because I loved Eco’s historical mystery The Name of the Rose and a friend whose literary judgement I respect loved Foucault’s Pendulum and rated it five stars. Trepidation because I had heard it was a “difficult” book, the kind where you need a dictionary handy--not just unabridged English but dictionaries in various other languages--and a book filled with modernist techniques and esoteric and complex sub...more
Salma
[ إن الناس تعاني جوعا للخطط، إذا قدمت لها واحدة تلقي بنفسها عليها مثل مجموعة من الذئاب. أنت تخترع و هم يصدقون، إنه بالفعل خطأ فادح أن تضيف المزيد للخيال الموجود بالفعل.] ص679
ثلاثة محررين في دار نشر يقررون اختراع خطة للمؤامرة الكونية... ابتدأ الأمر تسلية لتنتهي بابتلاعها لهم
كعادة إيكو رواية عظيمة و متعبة و معقدة و أكاديمية، و هي أشبه بدراسة للعبادات الشيطانية و الفرق السرية عبر التاريخ... تقوم على فكرة أساسية
و هي أن المؤامرة تقوم على الفراغ، المؤامرة منبعها عدم المؤامرة

قد أدخلتني في حالة تفكير...more
Giuseppe
In uno dei cablogrammi rilasciati da Wikileaks (non ricordo esattamente quale) v'era scritto che gli italiani sono un popolo con una tendenza un po' paranoide di vedere complotti e poteri forti nascosti un po' dappertutto. Un parziale riscatto a tale frase era presente nella susseguente: "è anche vero che tale convinzione è fondata storicamente".

Il che la dice lunga sul popolo italico, costretto a vivere all'ombra di grosse masse d'influenza come il Vaticano, la Mafia (la m maiuscola non è casua...more
Philip
This is without doubt my favorite book of the last 20 years. I re-read it every couple of years, but I no longer suggest it to friends. Too many people see me reading it and I have been so enthusiastic about it, they gave it a try but couldn't make it past the first hundred or so pages which are thick with historical and literary references.

It is a roller coaster ride through historical patterns, filled with wonder and human longing and error. Eco sets up the idea of patterns early, finding the...more
Roberta
In my next life I want Umberto Eco's brain, but after struggling to read this novel (highly recommended by a friend who also loves Eco's work), I have to class it as unreadable. I enjoy challenging literature, but was unable to engage with the plot or the characters nor did I find their philosophical issues very compelling. So sad -- I want to love his novels but the only one that did it for me was The Name of the Rose.
David Lentz
I respect Eco as a writer and was drawn to Foucault's Pendulum on the strength of another Eco novel, his Loana. Eco can really write and there really is a scholarly mind at work here in this layered tale. I picked up this novel hastily in a bookstore at Grand Central Terminal during a morning commute and upon closer inspection, when I realized it was focused on the Knights Templar, I almost returned it. In too many mainstream novels a fast-moving, crowd-pleasing, overly contrived plot gets in th...more
Adam Floridia
Foucault’s Pendulum is like The Da Vinci Code on steroids. Not the kind of steroids that shrink your nuts, rather some sort of cerebral steroids that just beef everything up. I remember Dan Brown’s book being a non-stop action ride, each chapter ending in a scene that made it impossible not to keep reading. Eco’s book also had moments when I could read 100+ pages in one sitting, but it also had many parts that made me extremely thankful that each chapter was only a couple of pages, making it eas...more
thegift
i think of this as a corrective to pynchon’s work, where everything is involved in a massive conspiracy, this book offers a sort of ‘theory of conspiracy’. that disparate events can all be made to connect, that once you begin with conspiracy it quickly becomes an article of faith and not argument, that there is no escape from suspicion and possibility, that- my favorite bit- the entire world is turned inside-out and every evidence contrary is part of a worldwide deception, for me this is even mo...more
Quentin
A critique of post-modern history, wrapped in one hell of a funny historical mystery. Taught me critical theory before I knew what that was.
Linda
Casaubon, Belbo and Diotallevi work for a vanity publisher in Milan, and they are used to reading manuscripts with conspiracy theories. Eventually, they get bored and decide to create their own conspiracy. They use many historical mysteries and with some fantasy and creativity connect the dots between them. It's called "The Plan" and at first they have no idea how they could make people believe in it. But, scary as it seems, the longer they work with the story, the more they realize that there a...more
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1730
Umberto Eco is an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His per...more
More about Umberto Eco...
The Name of the Rose History of Beauty Baudolino The Island of the Day Before The Prague Cemetery

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“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” 646 likes
“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” 320 likes
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