Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Review: "Foucault's Pendulum"

Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (1988), like The Name of the Rose, is a dense and ponderous novel filled with names, concepts, and words unfamiliar to all but the most diligent followers of things arcane. It was impossible for me not to get lost, but since it was the intriguing sort of lost rather than the frustrating sort of lost, I enjoyed it entirely.

The book is an utterly brilliant take on the whole concept of conspiracy theories and global interconnectedness. If it can be summed up in a single sentence, I think it's this one: "I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habits of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing" (p. 467).

As Eco's book covers some of the same ground as The Da Vinci Code (Templars, Holy Grail, &c.), the comparisons are impossible to avoid. But with its erudition and elegance, depth and tone, Foucault's Pendulum is by far the more interesting and provocative book. It's no easy read, but it's well worth the effort. I recommend it highly.