Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery

I read Umberto Eco when I was at University, impressed by his lucid analysis in A Theory of Semiotics.  The man didn't come into international popular attention until he published his first novel The Name of the Rose, translated into English in 1983, filmed in 1986 starring Sean Connery.  His follow-up novels proved to be too dense to reach the best-selling list, like his next novel Foucault's Pendulum, its complexity mirrored the dense and almost incomprehensible narratives of his friend Michel Foucault, the French philosopher.  As critics speculated, incomprehensibility was Eco's intention rather than his lack of clarity.  A literary joke of a wealthy academic (how many professors of the classics became millionaires?).

Eco's new novel became best seller.  The Prague Cemetery.

Oftentimes it is a sign (or signifier, following Eco) of maturity when a person can joke about himself or his own race.  In this regard, Jews and Chinese score low, my personal experience.  Eco's protagonist has much to say on the Jews and Europeans.  It is nice to hear that Eco also has the following to say about the Italians, through the mouth of his protagonist, one Simonini (writers, in particular famous literary writers, have their way of getting away with legal scrutiny) :

“The Italian is an untrustworthy, lying, contemptible traitor, finds himself more at ease with a dagger than a sword, better with poison than medicine, a slippery bargainer, consistent only in changing sides with the wind.”

Enjoy the novel!

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