C.E. Crowder's Reviews > Baudolino

Baudolino by Umberto Eco
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Dec 20, 11


Baudolino is in his sixties when he saves a minister of Constantinople during its sacking by the Fourth Crusade. This provides opportunity for him to recount his life story, one that begins as a historical fiction centered in the Holy Roman Emperor in the company of Barbarossa, but lends itself to fantasy once he engages upon a journey that leads him into an unlikely version of the middle east and India.

I liked The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, but this novel was easily the most fun to read. Loads of humour and pathos + brain candy = a rare find, but here it is. As with the author's other novels there is much playfulness incorporating European legends of the Middle Ages, here centered mostly upon the mythical realm of Prester John, and the Holy Grail.

The narrator is wonderfully unreliable by his own confession. He openly admits to viewing lying as bringing things into being, merely by bearing false witness to them. There's an interesting, sharply defined progression from the first half of the story when Baudolino could be given benefit of the doubt (as what he says fits well with historical fact), into the latter half where he is clearly making everything up. Ironically Niketas appears to find his tale more credible in this latter half, even as it becomes increasingly wondrous (a similar theme was apparent in Foucault's Pendulum).

Regardless of the facts or fiction contained in Baudolino's story, it always conveys a great deal of heart and he is eminently likeable as a character to the last. The author has taught us love for a liar, and respect for a liar's method of introducing wonder into the world, not unlike my appreciation for this talented writer.
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