Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum

If you thought, as I did, that Umberto Eco only writes crazy books for hardcore intellectuals then you might want to change your mind. Change your mind on the fact, that he only writes books for intellectuals, thats is. “Foucalt’s Pendulum”is crazy enough, but it’s a great read.

Getting into it was quite difficult for me at first. But once the narrative moves from Paris (where the narration starts), to Italy, where the story starts chronologically, it becomes rather engaging. There’s no point into going into much more detail about the book here, there are plenty of reviews of this book all over the internet, so I’ll just concentrate on what I liked the most about it.

The very first thing that I liked was the part where the main character is trying to “hack” into his friends computer. This scene is described very well and unlike in other books it can’t be faulted even from computer scientist’s perspective. Forget all the Holywood junk; this is real. There is even a BASIC program, included verbatim, that produces all the combinations of certain four letters, that might be the password. You see, there is a bit for everyone in Eco’s books.

Another came when Belbo is complaining about people unable to carry out logical deductions properly. Very nice examples and if you actually take the time to read them properly then you realize that they’re not trivial at all. It is also a very important part of the story because eventually the characters of the book then start ignoring the rules of logical deduction. Purely as a joke at first, just to see what happens. The consequences are rather scary. They all start sliding into madness involving Templars and all sorts of mystical ballast, based only marginally on historical facts.

As the book works on many levels it also happens to give you an amusing insight into how publishing works in this world. It sounded very realistic and was rather amusingly described. There are plenty more fun parts in the book and I can’t really list them all here, partly because I don’t even recall them all.

The story becomes very engaging eventually and the ending is quite powerful and surprising. Yet it still makes perfect sense in the narrative universe of the story. On the other hand I’d don’t don’t think I’ve quite figured out all the things that were going on there. It didn’t bother me. I think it’s an essential part of the “Eco” experience. He can be different things to different people and that’s great. I’m already looking forward to seeing what other people have to say about the book and what I can learn from their perspectives.

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One Response to “Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum”

  1. Johanka Says:

    You make it seem as if hardcore intellectuals were fake or jerks or just plain crazy… Why? Eco’s books at least made me *want* to become a “hardcore intellectual” and it’s been a great experience so far, because, contrary to popular opinion, it’s great and exciting and a never-ending journey and it contains a lesson in modesty. As in, don’t talk about anything you don’t understand properly. 🙂

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