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Journal of No. 118

January 10th, 2013

The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco @ 01:33 pm


I bought it without knowing anything about it. It's Eco, the title has Prague in it, the title has Cemetery in it. I'm in.

I was disappointed.

The story is told in a particularly irritating way. Ostensibly diary entries by two or more people who seem to have memory problems, trying to recover those lost memories. Or maybe they're the same person. It makes for a clumsy vehicle to tell the story. Our protagonist is a forger, whose main stock in trade is to product false wills, but he gets involved in more political shenanigans, forging works that cause political odium to fall on the right people. And since it's a shame not to reuse good stuff, some of these incidents get reworked in later acts of forgery. And then somewhere in the middle comes the one fantastic moment I had when reading the book, which will now be spoiled if you read any further (or read the Wikipedia entry). The conceit is that the forger will ultimately produce the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Apart from the protagonist, most of the main characters are drawn from history, and alas much of the book reads like a sad exercise in playing connect-the-Wikipedia-biographies with too little novel-glue, although it's true that some of these real people are fabulous inventions themselves, notably Leo Taxil.
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Date:January 10th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
I was really looking forward to Prague Cemetery; pre-ordered it and everything thinking it would be another Foucault's Pendulum. I felt he phoned it in. It wanted to be Eco-brilliance packed with real people, plot twists, and orgiastic list making, but it really fell short. It was an Eco-outline that still needed to be filled in and massaged.

Journal of No. 118