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/Literature: Foucault's Pendulum The Voice of Lews Therin - 30/04/2004 01:19:15 AM

I have heard quite a bit recently about the Da Vinci Code and can only say that if it's anything like Dan Brown's earlier attempt at occult fiction, Angels and Demons, it's quite inaccurate.

Foucault's Pendulum, unlike the Dan Brown books, is frightening in its ability to make the reader, particular the reader acquainted with the occult, feel that perhaps there was something after all that he missed, that there might just be a master Templar Plan that Casaubon, Belbo and Diotallevi stumbled upon rather than invented.

In fact, I have an interesting book that, when I referenced it, showed the inherent internal logic that Eco wove into his story. The book is entitled (get ready):

A TRUE AND FAITHFUL REVELATION OF What paffed for many Yeers Between Dr. JOHN DEE (A Mathematician of Great Fame in Q. Eliz. and King JAMES their Reignes) and SOME SPIRITS: TENDING (had it Succeeded) To a General Alteration of moft STATES and KINGDOMES in the World. His Private Conferences with RODOLPHE Emperor of Germany, STEPHEN K. of Poland, and divers other PRINCES about it. The Particulars of his Caufe, as it was agitated in the Emperors Court; By the POPES Intervention: His Banifhment, and Reftoration in part. AS ALSO The LETTERS of Sundry Great Men and PRINCES (fome whereof were prefent at fome of thefe Conferences and Apparitions of SPIRITS: ) to the faid D. DEE. OUT OF The Original Copy, written with Dr. DEES own Hand: Kept in the LIBRARY of Sir THO. COTTON, Kt. Baronet. WITH A PREFACE Confirming the Reality (as to the Point of SPIRITS) of this REVELATION: and fhewing the feveral good USES that a Sober Chriftian may make of All. By MERIC. CASAUBON, D.D. LONDON, Printed by D. Maxwell, for T. GARTHWAIT, and fold at the Little North door of S. Pauls, and by other Stationers. 1659.

Upon opening the book and seeing on the frontspiece the same long-winded title, on the facing page are six portraits. The first is labelled "MAHOMET receives his Law by Infpiration", the second "APPOLONI. TYANEUS in Domitians tyme", the third "Edw. Kelly Prophet or Seer to Dr. Dee.", the fourth "Roger Bacon an Englifh man", the fifth "PARACELSUS Receits from the Infpiration of Spirits" and finally "Dr. Dee anouncheth his Stone is brought by Angelicall Miniftry".

It is curious. Why is Mohammed mentioned alongside the others at a time when Christianity is locked in mortal combat with the Islamic World? Why is Roger Bacon there, if he is nothing more than "an Englifh man" ? I found myself nearly believing Eco's Plan.

Eco is clearly a master of his genre. However, there were three things which I found lacking in the book, and I must touch on them now:

1. Eco has problems creating female characters. All of his females are ephemeral creatures that are either silly victims, cariactures or shrewish bitches, and in no case do any of them play a major role in the story. Amparo nearly made me stop reading the book she was drawn so negatively. Lia was a footnote. Lorenza Pellegrini, the most important female, was so negatively drawn I wasn't sad when she was sacrificed by the mad cultists. I noticed the same problems in The Name of the Rose (no heroines in sight) and Baudolino (women are definitely downplayed). Given everything Eco writes about women in the abstract, he has some very serious psychological issues to resolve. Regardless, his works suffer in my eyes because of this.

2. Eco has diarrhea of the mouth. I found myself skimming entire chapters because they were boring, long-winded and uninteresting in general. This is another feature of an Eco book. He needs a good editor who will just tell him, "Umberto, this is SO boring and needless" or "Umberto, why does the reader want to read five pages about your associations of what motors look like?" This is another thing I found in other books of his I've read. He just DOESN'T KNOW WHEN TO STOP. He writes too much. The books are about 1/3 too long because of maudlin commentary that could and should have been cut.

3. At a certain level, Eco denies the mystery that he seems so interested in creating. He destroys and ruins practically everything good in his books. Baudolino, for example, was a great book up until the time Baudolino starts talking about his travels in the land of eternal darkness and then the "Kingdom of Prester John" where people with one foot only, people with heads in their chests, etc., and the Hypatias abound. Up until that point, it was a far-fetched tale the reader was questioning but thinking, "This just might have happened, dammit." Then he puts in this absurdity and the reader says, "This is just dumb." Similarly, Eco, in destroying the facade of the Plan, attacks the idea that there is ANYTHING below the surface or that ANYTHING has any meaning.

As a result, I'm not really sure what I think of Eco. He comes up with fantastic lines that make you really think, but at heart he is nothing more than a Robert Jordan. His works trivialize the commentary that they might provide on society, end up becoming nothing more than intricate mystery novels and leave the reader wondering whether the read was really worth his time or not.

Yes, he's still leagues above Dan Brown in prowess, but isn't that just delineating the difference between Agatha Christie and the Hardy Boys?

I was underwhelmed and let down by Foucault's Pendulum. However, I give Eco credit for really knowing his occult writers and being able to weave something as sublime as the Templar Plan. The parts I enjoyed all had to do with that.

Annoying wotmaniacs for 10 years.

Oh, I don't have time for this. I have to go and buy a single piece of fruit with a coupon and then return it, making people wait behind me while I complain. - Prof. Farnsworth

The Voice of Lews Therin

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/Literature: Foucault's Pendulum - 30/04/2004 01:19:15 AM 147 Views
Well... - 30/04/2004 01:29:20 AM 35 Views
I still think it's his best work - 30/04/2004 01:36:00 AM 23 Views
Of his novels, I've liked this one the best - 30/04/2004 01:41:08 AM 13 Views
Re: /Literature: Foucault's Pendulum - 30/04/2004 02:53:08 AM 16 Views
oh *spoilers* - 30/04/2004 03:27:26 AM 26 Views
I'll give my cliched response subject line: Hmm... - 30/04/2004 01:36:20 PM 13 Views
Re: I'll give my cliched response subject line: Hmm... - 01/05/2004 06:06:53 AM 10 Views
Can you hear the Ec(h)o - 30/04/2004 03:54:27 AM 16 Views
Re: Can you hear the Ec(h)o - 30/04/2004 04:07:24 AM 13 Views
Re: Can you hear the Ec(h)o - 30/04/2004 06:24:29 AM 8 Views
I think there is a third possibility - 30/04/2004 01:40:47 PM 11 Views
Re: /Literature: Foucault's Pendulum - 30/04/2004 04:48:58 AM 14 Views
Oh god, you are so right...... - 30/04/2004 05:59:52 AM 23 Views
I probably won't read that one... - 30/04/2004 03:30:24 PM 12 Views
Sweet...... - 01/05/2004 04:22:02 AM 9 Views
It started off well and then went downhill fast - 01/05/2004 11:37:31 AM 9 Views
Re: /Literature: Foucault's Pendulum - 30/04/2004 08:05:43 AM 20 Views
Re: /Literature: Foucault's Pendulum - 30/04/2004 08:11:21 AM 11 Views
sadly true : we often are just a comedy backround to them *NM* - 30/04/2004 09:38:49 AM 7 Views
I get that impression as well - 30/04/2004 11:50:37 AM 12 Views
Interesting... - 30/04/2004 03:36:26 PM 15 Views
I have yet to read it. - 30/04/2004 11:46:06 AM 16 Views
For me it's ayway worth reading, even if not 100% convincing. *NM* - 30/04/2004 12:37:39 PM 6 Views
It's not your standard conspiracy-theory book - 30/04/2004 03:40:43 PM 12 Views
omg! - 30/04/2004 02:46:11 PM 15 Views
Don't say I didn't warn you... *NM* - 30/04/2004 03:41:28 PM 6 Views