Whether it’s a critically acclaimed novel or provocative collection of essays, every work from best-selling author Umberto Eco is a highly anticipated publishing event. The Prague Cemetery is set amid conspiracy-rich 19th century Europe, where intrigue abounds—and where a lone, evil genius may be pulling all the strings.
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“This work of teasing historical pseudo-reconstruction combines an intriguing philosophy of history with an elaborate set of reflections on narrative and the nature of fiction." (Times Literary Supplement)
"A whirlwind tour of conspiracy and political intrigue...this dark tale is delightfully embellished with sophisticated and playful commentary on, among other things, Freud, metafiction, and the challenges of historiography." (Booklist)
"He's got a humdinger in this new high-level whodunit...a perplexing, multilayered, attention-holding mystery." (Kirkus Review, starred)
Devoted Darwin8U Disciple (Thank you Cornwinkle for gracious mention!) You are bulletproof--love the dog.
I love/hate Umberto Eco. "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself..." There are very few authors as complex and knowledgeable; there are even fewer that can challenge and inspire as Umberto Eco. I have re-read, cross referenced, and researched, as much while reading his books as when writing my dissertation--but isn't that what great writers do for us? They expand us. And, while I always feel a bit obtuse reading Eco, I always come away enlightened. His mind is an encyclopedia, all-encompassing, his wit is delightful and at the same time biting and hilarious.
Prague Cemetery's plot is intricate to say the least--19th century European espionage, conspiracy theories, Freemasons, Jesuits, Illuminati, Hitler, Dumas, Hugo, "Froide", Satanists, the New World Order and the Elders of Zion. All the more fascinating because of Eco's background in Semiotics, and the VERY interesting "A Note From the Author" wherein Eco personally explains the characters actually existed! [*see Amazon.com site to read this letter to the 'Dear Amazon Readers']. The story is told by a vitriolic schizo character with "a soul so dark as to cast a shadow in hell'; he could easily be a monster straight out of Eco's On Ugliness. Within 30 min. the mystery narrator ("pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name, woo woo.") offends, criticizes, disgusts, and outrages every race, nationality, ethnicity, sex, and religion--his only complimentary words used to describe the gourmet dishes he savors. Perhaps my only complaint: with such powerful elements and such an engrossing storyline, I'd have appreciated less venom--but I hope Eco never conforms to my personal predilections! (And wouldn't a recipe companion be too fabulous!)
Undeniably a difficult read (for me at least), and not meant for people that tend to be easily personally insulted. It's meant to be disturbing, it's meant to agitate some brain cells. Kirkus review probably summed it up best with this one word: HUMDINGER. While The Name of the Rose remains my favorite Eco novel, I found Prague Cemetery absolutely fascinating and will enjoy the personal prerequisite second, possible third, listen. George Guidall does a lovely job of narrating the translation, as if you are reading beautiful Italian with your English brain.
Persevere; I think of my mother saying to me, "Sit down and practice that piano! One day you'll thank me!" Read Eco and you'll thank yourself.
This is a very challenging book, as are all of Eco’s previous ones. I particularly want to praise here the fantastic job reader George Guidall has done bringing the book to life. This is one of the best audiobook presentations I’ve heard. So many distinct characters, the felicitous vocal inflections, the pacing, I can’t recommend it enough.
Obviously Simonine the main character was the only real focus. He was a great example of an unsympathetic character which we find fascinating. The portrayal of his twisted mind on its journey of revelation was one that kept me chomping at the bit for the next twist or turn through his historic voyage. I liked the idea of this true antihero detective trying to solve his own mystery for utterly selfish reasons which made his fantastic journey more believable.
I like the title
Somewhere between Sherlock Holmes, a Historic biography, and Fight Club. It's the type of book that makes learning fun.
I tried...oh how I tried; but I just could not get into this book at all. I gave it a 3 only because Guidall could read the telephone book aloud and I would enjoy it. The novel itself went nowhere in the most convoluted and difficult way possible. I have read Eco's other novels and enjoyed them, although they are always a hard read. However, this time he compounded the difficulty by using so many languages, historical minutia and what seemed to be never ending descriptions of every type of food found in France and Italy at the expense of continuity and coherence. I'm afraid I was very disappointed and would not recommend this except to very loyal Eco fans.
Absolutely love the concept, but think the execution is lacking a bit. The book is a thin veneer of fiction on top of actual historical events leading up to the publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the preeminent antisemitic book of the 20th century, still used today by some to prop up their delusional conspiracies. The history is absolutely fascinating and makes the book worth reading alone, but the fictional dressing grows a little tired by the last third of the book when it at times becomes nothing more than a list of this happened, then this happened, oh, and this happened. Ultimately a flawed if still fascinating read.
George Guidall has a voice meant for audiobooks and I've loved everything he's done. This, however, was somewhat hampered by the vast number of foreign words and phrases. Guidall's accent on the French words--can't speak to the German or Italian--was quite good actually, but it made listening difficult as he switched back and forth between different languages. If you can get past that difficulty, you'll find Guidall doing his normally brilliant work.
This is the Forrest Gump of the conspiracy-theory historical fiction novel. A master forger influenced European history and personally met and inspired the likes of Freud, Victor Hugo, Garibaldi, Napolean III, Dumas, and I'm sure many others. His importance had a lot to do with filling in the blanks on anti-Semite material and conspiracies that influenced world wars and ultimately the holocaust. Some very interesting bits of history, although a bit buried beneath a few layers of multiple-personality disorder and semiotic self-aggrandizement. It's no Foucault's Pendulum, but still kicks Dan Brown down the proverbial Potemkin Steps with great disdain. The narrator was very good.
This is a dark, dense and heady narrative, and not always easy to keep up with. Eco offers much food for thought, as he brings a candle into the cavern of political intrigue of mid-19th century Europe, and in it's shadow we see some ghastly goings on there. The main character of this novel, Simone Simonini, is purported to be the only fictional character to appear on Eco's stage. Simonini has been trained as a "forger," one who makes copies of documents that have been lost, or whose existence was obvious to those who needed them - most innocent of these would be a "lost" last will and testament, as specified by those who remained after the deceased, and would stand to profit. Simonini becomes involved with the secret service of the Piedmont Government, and is hired on as a forgerer and "fixer". Ultimately he must leave Italy, settles in Paris, where he continues in this same vein, working for the French Secret Service setting snares for revolutionaries and enemies of Napoleon III, amongst other more questionable activities. Simonini is a singular individual, a most cynical and dislikable character, yet given the backdrop of his life, the upbringing of an equally cynical grandfather, in a time of general distrust, there is at least a level of understanding that amounts to pity that can be afforded the man. Once in Paris, he finds that he has some how lost his memory, and seems to be suffering either visits of an intruder, or is something else going on here entirely?! I would listen to this novel again, if only because it is so very dense; for me it will require a second time to truly gain all that it has to offer.
Well read. The characters can be a bit hard to follow. There a flash back that if you miss the transition it be hard to follow. The historic note would be better in the front.
I don't think this story could have been redeemed
In order to get the most from this story I would have needed a translator to help me understand the multitude of foreign phases, a dictionary to help me understand the overuse of pedantic words and somebody throwing ice water in my face to keep me awake.
George Guidall is one of my favorite readers but even he could not make this story interesting.
I did not listen long enough (2 hours to get my attention didn't suffice) so the question should be what scenes needed to be kept in order to make the story entertaining.
It is not communicating if it is not understood.
From start to finish this wonderfully complex life narrative is both fascinating and intricate. Love Eco... wish he would write a few more.
Name of the Rose; Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana; and The Prague Cemetery - all wonderfully complex and captivating.
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