Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
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Book: Foucault's Pendulum

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.
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