Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012. Umberto Eco's biggest book since The Name of the Rose - a brilliant historical novel, which has already sold over a million copies in Europe
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Published: 03 November 2011
Genre: General & literary fiction
Nineteenth-century Europe, from Turin to Prague to Paris, abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay just one man? What if that evil genius created the most infamous document of all?
[This] magnificent new novel... marks a return to the heady mixture of absorbing ideas and down-and-dirty historical detail that made The Name of the Rose such an international bestseller in the 1980's
Adam Lively, Sunday Times
This is a great mystery novel about paranoia, prejudice and forgery... We gain access to a world of city streets, strange anecdotes, gourmet menus, and conspiratorial minds... Eco’s best novel since The Name of the Rose
A smartly entertaining fin-de-siècle romp
An extremely readable narrative of betrayal, terrorism, murder and gourmadising... The great trick Eco pulls off here is to combine the most chilling of ideas - the origin of a hoax that led to genocide - with, elsewhere in the novel, an often funny lightness of touch... In other hands, this novel could have been grim. But you end up feeling, despite all the darkness, that Eco is one of literature's great optimists
Sinclair Mckay, Daily Telegraph
Imagine Dan Brown adorned with a PhD: that's Umberto Eco
Erudite and pop, sinister and passionate... A work destined to become a classic
The Prague Cemetery, snakes along an underground trail that twists through the enlightened heresies and bigoted gospels respectively propagated by Freemasons and Illuminati, Jesuits and Jew-baiters, before hinting at an ideological conspiracy that underlines the deceits of contemporary politics
Perhaps history's first and biggest conspiracy theory
John Harding, Daily Mail
Aided by a translation (from Richard Dixon) that tucks into Eco’s rich period pastiche with relish, the story weaves a fictional master of mischief into actual events… Highly enjoyable in its cunning twists
Boyd Tonkin, Independent
Has latterly been dubbed the thinking person's Da Vinci Code. But Eco is at home in history in a way that Dan Brown is not... Eco has a sure grasp not only of historical fact but of a period's literature. He's a dab hand at intertextuality... His intent in exposing the moment that lies at the origin of modern anti-Semitism seems to be to show how fictions can have factual consequences. Contemporary spin-doctors take note. Lies, particularly if they follow the pattern of paranoid conspiracies and create an enemy, can have dire effects... Eco is a comic master and, in his 80th year, his irreverent intelligence, if not always his plotting or scabrous taste, remains bracing
Lisa Appignanesi, Independent
There is a great deal of pleasure to be taken in the games Eco plays and in the serious thinking about history and stories that lies beneath them
Robert Gordon, Times Literary Supplement
An extremely readable narrative of betrayal, terrorism, murder… chilling
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Date: 2005-02-17Umberto Eco has written works of fiction, literary criticism and philosophy. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was a major international bestseller. His other works include Foucault's ...