This is an amazingly rich and complex book about a series of mysteries, codes, conspiracies, and hidden lore. The ending certainly isn't what you expect going into this book but I found it to be serious food for thought.
I won't kid you, it is a very hard book to get into initially, but if you stick with it and don't focus so much on keeping track of every tiny thread, you will really enjoy it. When I feel a need to challenge myself mentally I pick up my hardcover copy and dive into it again and again.
One more thing, I did love his Name of the Rose book a great deal, but this is nothing like it. Please don't pick this up expecting it to be...we are talking apples and oranges here. Two really great fruits, but in essence nothing alike.
A masterpiece. As noted by another reviewer... this is not the most accessible of books. Having some familiarity with medieval history, secret societies and occult traditions is a huge help in really appreciating this book. But... that being said, I think it's an amazing book. I've read it several times and would highly recommend it.
This is a very cerebral book, it requires alot of focus and knowledge of some cultural points that quite honestly even I'm not aware of. I bought it because it was recommended to me by a friend, but Umberto Eco is far too difficult a write for me to swallow. Perhaps someone else may be able to break through the complicated and rather boring first chapter.
It took me a long time to convince myself to give this book a try. I had been sorely disappointed in Eco's "internationally acclaimed" Name of the Rose. In his own words, "I was aghast, unable to decide whether this was an extraordinary revelation or the wild raving of a madman." (p. 37) And through 36 pages of the work I was convinced I'd been right to avoid it; but then as chapter 6 began the tone switched from that of a madman's narrative, filled with arcane and insensible mutterings, to that of a modern man speaking English and making sense, in a sense. Of course the kind of sense being made is absurdity, which marks all of Eco's works as far as I know, possibly even his scholarly works in semiotics if there is such a thing. Such a thing as semiotics (the study of meaning in signs and symbols) being a scholarly pursuit, that is. One is forced to conclude Eco is poking fun at himself with his concept for reforming higher education by creating a School of Comparative Irrelevance: "The Tetrapyloctomy department has a preparatory function; it's purpose is to inculcate a sense of irrelevance. Another important department is Adynata, or Impossibilia. Like Urban Planning for Gypsies. The essence of the discipline is the comprehension of the underlying reasons for a thing's absurdity. We have courses in Morse syntax, the history of Antarctic agriculture, the history of Easter Island painting, contemporary Sumerian literature, Montessori grading, Assyrio-Babylonian philately, the technology of the wheel in pre-Columbian empires, and the phonetics of the silent film." (p. 64) One might suggest another course: The Eco novel as a source of common sense. In other words, if one has way too much time on one's hands and would rather giggle or smirk away the hours contemplating whether the Templars begat the Rosicrucians or verse-visa and which of them begat the Masons, or if other secret societies have a better grip on what passes for reality, this might be the book for you. Of course the real secret (please don't pass this along to anyone else) is that to make perfect sense of this novel one must read it backward.. "Lufitaeb os s'ti. Htiaf elttil fo yeht. Meht gnillet meht..." See? Just like a Fellini movie. No, not Fellini. Closer to Monty Python, through nowhere near as entertaining.
This is one of my favorite novels ever! While it is certainly not for the fainthearted, those who persevere will be richly rewarded by Eco's brilliant writing. I recommend reading it with access to a good dictionary Google. If you thought the Da Vinci Code had an interesting premise, but was otherwise disappointing, pick this up.
One of the most amazing books I have ever read! Literaly changed my world view. There are so many levels to this book. Opened my mind to things I had never thought about. I read this book when I was 17, and it just blew my mind. One of the few books I read over and over again. I have probly read it at leat 50 times. I also give this book as a gift to everyone I know!
Creepy Illuminati story (Is their any other kind?) Cloak and dagger suspense gives way to metaphysical musings by the end. John Dee makes an appearance, as do the Knight Templars. Not as cool to leave on your coffee table as The Name of The Rose, but I think that's Eco's point, actually.
This is a FANTASTIC book, Eco has gotten a little into numberology in some of his other books and this one explains a lot more. I think this is his best writtings, even better than The Name of the Rose. This book has been through 5 moves with me, and I have read it twice. It does have some wear in a corner of the cover and some color has come off the right hand side of the cover, but other than some age wear it is perfectly fine and none of the pages are damaged.