Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I've been trying to read Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Because I'm enough of a book snob to sneer at those lightweight romances, family sagas and run-of-the-mill thrillers, I thought I'd try something a little more literary.

There's really something quite off-putting about a novel in which every sentence requires me to pick up my dictionary. Especially when some of the words in those sentences aren't even in the dictionary.

I wonder, could I just toss the book aside as pretentious rubbish which only the most high-brow member of the literati would appreciate?

Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is proving to be much more forgiving.


Frally said...

God, the title alone sounds scary. Dare I ask what it's about? Or are you not sure?

flying kiwi said...

I can't remember whether I ever actually attempted Foucault's Pendulum, but I do remember getting stuck in The Name of the Rose at the 15 pages describing the door. I'm sure it was a nice door, but I mean, come on.

When you come across a word you don't know, just make up a meaning and a pronunciation if need be. You just have to be careful when trying them out in conversation, in case you got them completely wrong.

Jon said...

I read 'The Name of the Rose' a while back and loved it, but it took a while to understand. I'm far too young to recall when the book was a best seller, but I enjoyed the story- and the movie with Sean Connery and a young Christian Slater helped put the film in perspective.

Anway, it's after 3 AM here and I really to go back to bed ;)

The Editter said...

I read an Umberto Eco book last year, only persevered cos I had borrowed it to read during my sick leave so felt obliged to read it before I returned it. It was The Island of the Day Before, about the discovery of latitude. I did enjoy it but the language was hard going.

I also want to say that you made my George sound like Dominatrix Bear!

Nigel Patel said...

Any mention of Foucault makes me flash back to the days when I would try to get through Camille Paglia. But she's only hard to read in the sense that you want to punch her about once per paragraph.

Make Tea Not War said...

Foucaults Pendulum is worth persevering with in that it really is the uber definitive conspiracy novel. I seem to remember it picks up momemtum as it gets going. I found it got harder towards the end because he evokes paranoid conspiracy theorist thinking very well- the mad leaps in logic and the feeling that everything is somehow connected to the paranoid fantasy- so its a bit like sinking into someone elses psychosis. But definitely worth it, I thought.

noizy said...

I loved Name of the Rose, but struggled with Foucault's Pendulum - got way too bogged down in it, struggled manfully to the end, but then wondered just what the hell it was I had just read.

I think, perhaps, it's one of those books that makes a lot more sense if you read it through for a second time straight away.


Anonymous said...

It's a fantastic book but I recommend skipping the impenetratable first chapter and going back to it once the book captures your imagination. It took me a few attempts but it's now one of my all time faves. Like your blog :)

Violet said...

frally: well, according to the blurb on the back it's about a bunch of book editors who make a game out of feeding random information into a computer which is capable of inventing connections between entries. Apparently mysterious deaths ensue.

If I hadn't read that, I wouldn't have a clue what it's about!

flying kiwi: you're quite right of course. That's very sapiential advice.

jon: I remember enjoying the movie of The Name of the Rose. Perhaps I should wait for a movie of Foucault's Pendulum as well. Good night, jon-boy.

editter: the word "challenging" comes to mind, doesn't it? As for skanky-ho George, there's probably some good advice out there somewhere against dating sado-masochistic soft toys.

Nigel: Ah yes, I have a Camille Paglia, and actually finished the whole book - Vamps and Tramps. At least you can't accuse her of being boring and conformist.

mtnw: I will try to persevere with it, if I can finish Oryx and Crake in time - both are due back in 4 weeks. Or else I'll come back to you and ask for a plot summary.

james: it must've been frustrating to get to the end and still not really know what's so good about it. But if it was a struggle the first time, I doubt I'd bother to go another round. Life is far too short.

anonymous: glad you enjoy the blog, stranger. I actually got to chapter 2 before putting it down in favour of another book. Will it get better from Chapter 2, or should I try skipping a few more?