Book: Foucault's Pendulum - Livre d'Or








Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes. * Blogroll * Strange words * More links * Bookies * Microblog * Recent comments * Humans only * Second degree * By topic * Cool posts * Writing * New post

Tags

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



livredor
Book: Foucault's Pendulum
Tuesday, 11 November 2003 at 06:08 pm
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry


Author: Umberto Eco

Details: Trans William Weaver; (C) 1988 Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri Bompiani; Translation (c) 1989 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc; Pub Ballantine Books 1990; ISBN 0-345-36875-4

Verdict: Foucault's Pendulum is mixed; some interesting stuff but overly dense.

Reasons for reading it: I'd been meaning to read Foucault's Pendulum for absolutely ages, because it sounded like the kind of book that I'd really get on with. And various people have raved about it, including pseudomonas and neonchameleon.

How it came into my hands: A really lovely second hand book stall in a market in Berkeley.

I feel that admitting to not liking Foucault's Pendulum terribly is a bit like admitting to being an ignoramus. But to be honest, I found FP extremely slow going. It's undoubtedly clever (it would be pretty surprising if it weren't!) and there are moments which are dramatic, or funny, or interesting, or even moving. But they're padded out with an awful lot of mundane incidents, and a story that fails to move forward, and characters that I don't care about enough to be motivated to read about the minutiae of their lives. I'm sure I've missed lots of incredibly subtle points, but without a good story to carry them, I think I'd probably find a textbook on the history of the occult less frankly boring.

It's not a bad book, by any means; I felt it worth persevering despite the fact that it was so slow to read. Part of the slowness was to do with the abundance of chapter superscriptions in languages that I can half-read, which are a big distraction. Some of the time I felt I was reading a kind of hyper-dimensional version of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency; the truth is that I think the latter works better as a whole, even if FP has moments of sublimity.

I also kept speculating about the translation, cos FP is absolutely chock-full of language games and allusions. I derived a certain satisfaction from spotting some of them (and yeah, I had a bit of a headstart with the cabala bits), but I'm sure I missed absolutely masses! Oh well, it kept me entertained on the bus for a few weeks.


Moooood: blahblah
Tuuuuune: Mozart's Requiem (with the volume turned right up)
Discussion: 11 contributions | Contribute something
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry




Contribute something
View all comments chronologically



From:neonchameleon
Date:November 14th, 2003 06:38 pm (UTC)
23 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
Foucalt's Pendulum is the only book I've ever read that survived both the eight deadly words ("I don't care what happens to these people") and the six ("I don't have time for this") and I still had fun reading. It did feel in places like an overlong infodump, however. Definitely worth reading.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
(no subject) - compilerbitch (11/14/03 06:43 pm)
livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:November 15th, 2003 09:08 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:08 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I liked FP better the second time I read it
Fair 'nuff; I'm not sure I liked it enough to want to read it a second time.

Also, the first time I read it I was a mere 23 year old
Goodness, it's been years since I was last told I'm too young to understand a particular book ;-) I did rather get the impression that if I were more knowledgeable I'd have enjoyed FP more, though. But it is possible for even erudite books to entertain as well.

I like 'The Name of the Rose' more, even though it is maybe less of a literary feat.
I agree entirely; I found it far more readable.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - compilerbitch (11/16/03 11:08 am)
livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:November 19th, 2003 09:57 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 09:57 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
At 23, I'd only comparatively recently got into reading novels.
Wow, in that case I can see that FP would have been a rather big lump to chew!

I hope I didn't offend you -- my comment was in reference to myself, not you.
No, even when I thought you were addressing me, I wasn't at all offended, much more amused. Don't worry. Thanks for the clarification anyway, though.

I got the black humour
It is very black, isn't it? The hanging scene literally made me feel sick, though at the same time it is funny.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 15th, 2003 01:17 pm (UTC)
19 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Any more comments, anyone? I have it on my shelf and intended to have a try sooner or later. liverdor, have you read The Name of the Rose or The Island of the Day Before? I am very fond of the first, didn't get on well with the second. I think my taste in books is closer to yours than pseudomonas', who adored both.

EM
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:November 15th, 2003 09:18 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:18 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
intended to have a try sooner or later
You might get on with it better than I did, being more literary. I'm sure a lot of the reason I didn't like it is because it's simply over my head.

As I said above, I really liked The Name of the Rose; FP works less well, IMO.

I think my taste in books is closer to yours than pseudomonas'
It's funny; Pseudomonas and I have almost everything in common, except taste in books. I almost never like his recommendations, and vice versa.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
rysmiel: vacant and in pensive mood
From:rysmiel
Date:November 19th, 2003 04:01 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 12:01 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
Foucault's Pendulum is a book of which I am really fond, because I really enjoy a number of the things he does in that, the playing with idea, the accuracy and sharpness of the parodies of various parts of the conspiracy-theory industry and the portrayal of the vanity press, and the counterbalancing humanity and existential angst that comes over Casaubon. I have also enjoyed Name of the Rose a lot; have only read The Island of the Day Before once and was not very struck by it, and not yet read Baudolino at all.

More than one bookstore of my acquaintance slips copies of Foucault's Pendulum in on the shelves next to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and others of that ilk. I don't see how anyone who read Pendulum could ever take that sort of rubbish seriously again, tbh.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:November 19th, 2003 10:06 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 10:06 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I really enjoy a number of the things he does in that, the playing with idea, the accuracy and sharpness of the parodies
The thing is, I like these things too, particularly the playing with ideas, which is why I expected to like FP a lot more than I did. I think too much of it is quite simply dull; mere 'cleverness' isn't enough to carry a story, and I strongly suspect I would like it better if it were considerably cut.

the counterbalancing humanity and existential angst that comes over Casaubon
Mmf. I thought Casaubon worked in patches, but didn't seem particularly memorable as a character. This probably has a great deal to do with the fact that almost none of the supporting cast have any personality at all, which makes Casaubon's interactions with other people seem pretty shallow.

I also had a possible view of the story that the whole thing is a figment of Casaubon's deranged imagination. I can't quite make up my mind whether I like that or not.

More than one bookstore of my acquaintance slips copies of Foucault's Pendulum in on the shelves next to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and others of that ilk
*splutter* I suppose that's always going to be the danger of writing parody, that you might be taken for sincere. But really, that is astonishingly ignorant!

I don't see how anyone who read Pendulum could ever take that sort of rubbish seriously again, tbh
It's incredibly hard to tell, given how thoroughly disinclined I was to take any of it seriously in the first place. But I agree, it's very good parody.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
rysmiel: words words words
From:rysmiel
Date:November 20th, 2003 04:20 pm (UTC)
5 days after journal entry, 12:20 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
More than one bookstore of my acquaintance slips copies of Foucault's Pendulum in on the shelves next to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and others of that ilk
*splutter* I suppose that's always going to be the danger of writing parody, that you might be taken for sincere. But really, that is astonishingly ignorant!


I suppose it could be; I took the intent for subversive, myself.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: default
From:livredor
Date:November 25th, 2003 09:14 pm (UTC)
11 days after journal entry, 09:14 pm (livredor's time)

(Link)
Actually, your original comment did say that, I just didn't read it carefully enough. It's intriguing to imagine the scene of someone picking up the Eco when they were actually looking for occult trash. Sorry to misinterpret you.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)



Contribute something
View all comments chronologically