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Foucault's Pendulum

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  66,070 ratings  ·  3,754 reviews
Three clever editors (who have spent altogether too much time reviewing crackpot manuscripts on the occult by fanatics and dilettantes) decide to have a little fun. They are inspired by an extraordinary fable they heard years before from a suspiciously natty colonel, who claimed to know of a mystic source of power greater than atomic energy.

On a lark, the editors begin ran
Paperback, 623 pages
Published March 5th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 1988)
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J Yes, it's difficult unless you are a human encyclopedia like the writer.…moreYes, it's difficult unless you are a human encyclopedia like the writer.(less)
Douglas Roberts I'm pretty sure it's a joke at the expense of the hermetic characters the publishers spend much of their time with, as when it's first used it's about…moreI'm pretty sure it's a joke at the expense of the hermetic characters the publishers spend much of their time with, as when it's first used it's about how they literally all have a certain look about them (Lorenza says "professional sorcerers with faces exactly like professional sorcerers", then describes them. Diotallevi quips "Facies hermetica", and from then on it's an in-joke).(less)

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Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dethpakt
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
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plots and counterplots… Conspiracies and counter conspiracies…
Cabbalists, Illuminati, Knights Templar, Rosicrucian Order… If it isn’t enough for you then create your own clandestine order with some obscure and opaque agenda… The obscurer the better.
That was when I saw the Pendulum.
The sphere, hanging from a long wire set into the ceiling of the choir, swayed back and forth with isochronal majesty.
I knew – but anyone could have sensed it in the magic of that serene breathing – that the period was
Ian "Marvin" Graye

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
Steven Godin
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing

When it comes to novels the size of bricks I have to admit to being a bit of a lightweight, only reading a handful of books over 600 pages long, and always enter with some trepidation. Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is not quite brick big, but then it doesn't look like it's been on a diet either.
In terms of sheer scope and passionate ambition this really is something, and it felt like a history lesson and a novel combined, so kudos there.

This is a complex piece of writing that does require hard work

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
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it
3 "the last of the pentalogy of puzzlement and perseverance" stars !!!

A very difficult book to both rate and review. As I read this book I reflected on four other books that have been considered great by so many of my friends and in particular, my darling partner.

These five books to me were seeds and shadows of greatness but I felt were so heavily flawed that they became only fair to average good reads for me.

These books are:
1. 1Q84 (2.5 stars)
2.Cloud Atlas (3 stars)
3. A Fine Balance (3 stars)
The best and the worst thing I can say about this novel is that it's a difficult read.

Sure, the author is Italian, but that doesn't automatically make it difficult, only a novel that I've read out of its normal language.

No, the novel isn't even difficult in the traditional sense, where the sentence structure is hard to follow and there might be four hundred commas per dozen pages. The writing is quite nice.

No, the novel is difficult because it requires the reader to read and understand a whol
Let's be clear: Eco is a titan. This opus embarks the reader in a story with multiple bends; one is carried away by the incredible erudition of the author, by the apparent mastery of his art. Rare are the books that raise the level of the reader. Eco does it every time. A Landmark!
The pendulum of Foucault is a book that exceeds me. It contains references, involved authors, outdated ideologies, and strange rites. Yet, every time I read it, I get out of it. It is a reminder of the Dan Browns of th
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
Kara 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
May 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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”
Reading " Le Pendule de Foucault ", I understand where Dan Brown and the other amateur writers of sensationalist literature, with esoteric flavor - were inspired. I would never have thought that Eco was the initiator of these tendencies to revive interest in the mysteries of the Templars, and in what is supposed to be behind religious " truths ", on a extensive book, built in a multiple way, combining history with mystery, and finally with a postmodern irony.
The frame story is simple : three fr
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, fiction, favorites
What strikes me on reading this again is not just how much minutiae Eco loves to cram into his books - here we have a list of vintage French cars, histories of the Fourth Crusade, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian esoteric movement, and Afro-Brazilian religion, but what I keep thinking about was his description of the conspiracy theory and how people fall victim to it.

Our protagonists, a gang of layabouts at a vanity publisher, decide to invent a conspiracy theory as a joke. Eventually, peop
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Video review

A masterpiece, a must-read, dirò di più, a great novel.

At once an ecyclopedic study of human stupidity, a flight of fancy of historical proportions, and a seven-hundred-page praise of a rather pretty Piemonte hill. Traps you into the same mechanisms that doom its characters, but it's gentle in showing you the trap's functioning, and sympathetic in sharing your pain.
Not for kids who find it challenging to sit still through fifty-minute lectures.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2022 re-read thoughts:

A part of me has often found it appealing to think that the workaday world was really merely a veneer that hides the occult secrets that so many have either claimed to know or to seek. It does make the the hum drum everyday seem so much more intriguing. I am always convinced, however, by Eco’s refutation of it in this book…and yet even with his rebuttal of the great Templar conspiracy and the simple, one might even contend saccharine, solution to the Great Mystery as opined
if you like this review, i now have website:

211003: think i read this first as trade ppk (33 yrs ago!) had read The Name of the Rose 3 times before, went on to read The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Prague Cemetery, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana ... this remains five, though it has lost that magical singularity on first reading. never went back to The Name of the Rose or reread the others. these are all long books but not stylistically challenging, easy t
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017, read-2008
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
Aaron Interpunct
Sep 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I loved this reference-rich detective novel page-turner romp about conspiracies, creation stories, language, publishing, the Knights Templar, and much else. It had me looking things up (hypalleges, anyone?), but I like that in a book. It's also often hilarious-- the slow-building joke early on hooked me. All that said, you might hate it, and I get that, but I've already started reading it again. ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-novel
Before we delve too much into this book I have to give this caveat- this book is most certainly not for everyone. You will find it called "Da Vinci Code with a brain" and I can certainly see that aspect. However, this is a dense and deep book. There is a lot going on here, yes some of it is nonsense, and can be a lot to take in. This can lead people to hate Eco's work ("Name of the Rose" suffers from this often, though it is a magnificent book!). A vague working knowledge of Latin, French and It ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved The Name of the Rose. I liked the obscure, Medieval tone of it. I enjoyed the characters and the story. I was prepared to feel the same about Foucault’s Pendulum, although I had been warned there was little similarity between the two. I was disappointed.

Foucault’s is Dan Brown on steroids. It is as if Eco (who never needs to prove his brilliance), needed to prove his brilliance on absolutely every page. There are references to Rosicrucians and Templars, as they are at the heart of the st
Jul 31, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction, dnf
Did Not Finish. I got up to page 67, of this 600+ page book and thought, I can't take no more of this. Impenetrable and kind of pointless. I'm sure there's probably more to it, and it might have something to do with me reading the last 26 pages during a 34 degree London heatwave, but I'm done with this!
Inderjit Sanghera
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Eco’s novel, whose principle characters are a group of ponderous paranoiacs, swings between being unreadable due to its preoccupation with esoterica and preponderously brilliant and witty. Perhaps that is how Eco designed the novel, as he depicts the chaos causes by the descent of a group of literati who turn the ramblings of a monomaniac into a giant global conspiracy, half in jest and half in seriousness, the reprecussions of which are dire and even deadly for the characters. It can be difficu ...more
40 Forte
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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, Jesu
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While I loved The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco blew my mind as a teenager with Foucault’s Pendulum.

It’s a book filled with so many interesting tidbits about history, religion, philosophy, esoterica etc. And it’s easy to get lost in the wealth of information Eco so clearly possessed.

But...the beauty of this book is that everyone can enjoy the story.

There’s no need to retain any of the tangents and info, or to look up any of the rare vocabulary, you can just read the story and you’ll still unde
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, audio, conspiracy
It goes without saying that Foucault's Pendulum is one of the most profound novels I've ever read, and is more relevant than ever in these conspiratorial times.

Eco's expertise in the realm of all things occult is astounding, and even more so as he criticizes the fields of "Neo-Templarism" and secret societies which portend to have historical merit and try to influence the world by way of obscure publishing. Then there is the saga of the game which goes out of control, simply amazing writing. Mu
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Umberto Eco was an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books. 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 perceptive essays on modern culture are filled with a delightful sen ...more

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