Owlseyes's Reviews > The Prague Cemetery

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
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Feb 19, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: italian-lit, protocols-elders-of-zion
Read from November 04 to December 14, 2011

Eco:" We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die".

Interview in Der Spiegel, November 11, 2009

Update; thank you Eco...

Umberto Eco, 84, Best-Selling Academic Who Navigated Two Worlds, Dies
in: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/art...

Eco in an interview of 2011, said he had "put in his [Simone Simonini] mouth a lot of abominous ideas [anti-Semitic,racism]...a repugnant character [Simone Simonini] ...not to be taken seriously".

"If not a comic, I am a grotesque writer"

Heavy historical novel.
Very European context.

March 1897,piazza Maubert,near Paris,...by the Bièvre,an affluent of the La Seine river. Paris is not what it used to be, now with this pencil-sharpener called Eiffel Tower...so thinks sixty-seven-year-old Simone Simonini.

He wonders about his identity: "who am I"?.He defines himself by reference to others' defects.He bashes rudely at other races and peoples. He repels, grossly, the Germans: their repugnant sweat smell, their language...their addiction to beer...no interesting art; even great composers are depreciated under Simonini:"ordinary" Beethoven, "noisy" Wagner and "no-harmony" in Bach. The Germans took seriously that glutinous monk called Luther.

The French, are also criticized: they are lazy and mean ("Ils grognent toujours").Italians as well.And yet,Simone's father was Italian and his mother a French woman.

Simonini became French because he could not stand being Italian: Italians are "liars" and "vile" and "traitors".He says (like with plants-crossing), if you cross a French with a Hebrew you have the present Republic III.

Nevertheless, he's got "nothing against" the Hebrew people; his grandfather (captain Simonini) taught him: they are the atheist people 'par excellence'.Simone Simonini recalls eighteen centuries of hate, though.

But the worst of all are the Jesuits...and the Freemasons. Jesuits are "Masons dressed as women".

Thus,he considers himself to be a chaste man since he doesn't like women.He loves food and drink.

Simonini is a forgerer of documents and an antiques dealer.Strangely,he's got memory problems; even personality issues: it seems, he cannot distinguish himself from Abbot Dalla Piccola, who happens to live in the same building. There's a corridor connecting the two homes, and one day Simonini finds a wig:... his? Abbot's?... or of one and single person? And this was Chapter Two of Eco's book.

Chapter Three deals with acquaintances of the forgerer at the famous restaurant "Magny". 'Chez Magny' he meets a medical doctor,an Austrian Jew called Fröid,[any bell rang??]...thirty years old, studying with Charcot the hysteria phenomenon.Simonini sees Fröid as a "liar"...who studies and uses cocaine for his own sake,...and who suffers from "black billis".

Interesting references are made to the study of hysteria, the use of magnetism by some and hypnosis by others for the treatment of the psychiatric condition. Again, the antiques dealer digresses about the Hebrews, their smell...the "fector judaica"...and concludes "they're all communists!";he's got no Hebrew friends.

The case of Diana is introduced: two personalities in the same body; and different memories of the acts perpetrated by these two radically different personalities.

Chapter Four: grandfather’s times. Simonini recalls childhood in Turim,…he managed to speak the purest Grenoble French…not the Paris ‘babil’. Grandfather told him about the madness of the Revolution,….and the worldwide complot of the Knights Templar against Christianity.Also about his connections to Augustin de Barruel (1741-1820):a conspiracy theorist. Simone discloses his pleasure wearing the vests of priest Bergamaschi,how he felt superior...and about chocolate and coffee delights.

Amazing Chapter Five: because it's penned by Abbot Dalla Piccola. He knows more about Simonini than the other way around. He reveals that Simonini was an active "Mason" (that he belonged to the Carbonaria). A Simonini that in the previous chapter was so critical about Masonnery aims:"Lilia pedibus destrue" (destroy and step on the Fleur-de-Lis of France).The Freemasons wanted to destroy both "altar and throne".

And chapter Six? -Here, Simone severely decries about the Abbot: you know too much about me! Simonini envisions the Jesuits meeting at the Jewish cemetery in Prague;... them, conspiring under the moon, to help Napoleon III. Interestingly, Bergamaschi was a counselor to the monarch.

The forgerer prides himself of his first masterpiece of forgery; and later, gets his first ("spy") mission: to join writer Alexandre Dumas in his ship Emma;of course, Dumas had joined the liberators, under Garibaldi. A detail: on his mission, the captain cannot avoid taking with him the vests of priest Bergamaschi.

Simone is now in Sicily. Through his eyes we see Garibaldi; the leader is not the “Apollo”, as Dumas saw him. He describes him as “of modest stature, blondish but not blond, with short legs…and affected by rheumatism”, he noticed when the leader had to be helped while riding horses.

Simonini distrusts heroes….and doesn't wear the Red Shirt of the liberators, but the ecclesiastic vests of priest B.

Garibaldi has received from the British Masonry 3 million French Francs (in golden Turkish piastras).

So you think I would go on till chapter Twenty Seven?... No,I won't.

Just a few words of closure for this review.

(1) The book has marvelous 19th century illustrations (from the author’s archive) that help a lot understanding the plot… or the story, if you will.

(2) Due to Simone’s likings the book is truly a cookeries compendium; menus abound.

(Protocols´, 1912 edition)

(3) It’s really historically thick the plot ahead; Simone will visit many places; will kill Abbot Piccola;…many adventures ahead, even with protestant Diana. But the core of the book may lie in the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ; in fact, according to several sources they are a “lie”; Eco refers 1925 Hitler’s book Mein Kampf; and the London Times of 1921; both indicating a “forgery”.

(The Times, August 17, 1921)

(4) Finally, Eco says: all book characters were real persons, …but Simone.

PS About Simone's name.In the book it is indicated why the main character got that name; someone in the family told Simone:"...in memory of Saint Simonino,a martyr kid of Trento,kidnapped by the Jews...that used his blood in their rites". That explains a lot.

From wiki:
Simon of Trent (German: Simon Unverdorben; Italian: Simonino di Trento); also known as Simeon; (1472 – March 21, 1475) was a boy from the city of Trento, Italy whose disappearance was blamed on the leaders of the city's Jewish community based on their confessions under torture,causing a major blood libel in Europe.

(Dec 21st 2011)For fans of Eco:he's been recently interviewed by GR; some of his words may be elucidating about this and other of his books.And,within two months he'll be eighty years old.Nice.
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02/19 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-22)

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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Have you read The Heretic by Miguel Delibes? Is it true that he finished writing this when he was also 80 years old already?

message 21: by Owlseyes (last edited May 02, 2015 02:25AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Owlseyes No, didn't read Delibes'.
Are you asking me if Eco wrote "O cemitério de Praga" at 80?
-most likely.

message 20: by Bettie☯ (new) - added it

Bettie☯ Eco was born 5 January 1932 so yes, 80 y.o. as near as damn it. amazing.

Owlseyes quite a guy,I mean, a writer...

message 18: by Bettie☯ (new) - added it

Bettie☯ yep!

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

José-contemplates-Saturn's Aurora wrote: "quite a guy,I mean, a writer..."

That's a honourable age,I guess...My grandfather's age!

Owlseyes I agree Luis; even more honorable if you're producing novels,still; [no hint at your grandfather]

message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited May 22, 2014 08:11AM) (new)

José-contemplates-Saturn's Aurora wrote: "I agree Luis; even more honorable if you're producing novels,still; [no hint at your grandfather]"

My father has told a enormous quantity of novels until now,to me..He's a true story-teller..He could write a book with that!!

Owlseyes haha! he's as good as Eco; you should encourage him to write down those stories; maybe then: he'll become better than Eco...
-just kidding :)

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

yeah!!Just hearding him!!

Owlseyes WOW!!! I'm DELIGHTED; that made me laugh: "hearding"!! -you're toying with English. Makes me recall a joke I've read recently (have fun too): "-If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be DELIGHTED (!), musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?"

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah..That's a bit confused...Pardon my english at this moment..D:

message 10: by Luís (new) - added it

Luís Blue Yorkie Awesome review.

Owlseyes Thanks,Luís.

message 8: by Luís (new) - added it

Luís Blue Yorkie This is,probably other Eco's masterpiece.

Owlseyes yeah,along with The Name of the Rose,...

message 6: by Luís (new) - added it

Luís Blue Yorkie Owlseyes wrote: "yeah,along with The Name of the Rose,..."

The name of the rose was magnificent.Only I gave 4 stars just because the book has some latin words,that I not understand.Besides that,is terrific.

Nemo An interesting review. I also liked The Name of the Rose. I consider the latin text in the novel makes it more interesting and "realistic". It put the reader in the Middle Age.

Owlseyes Thanks; I agree with you.

message 3: by Luís (last edited May 02, 2015 05:31AM) (new) - added it

Luís Blue Yorkie Owlseyes wrote: "Thanks; I agree with you."

The last color-image is terrifying..

Owlseyes really? poor Jews,all their blame...

message 1: by Luís (new) - added it

Luís Blue Yorkie Yes,the jews are crucified for all things and others similars..

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