The Cemetery of Prague by Umberto Eco — Bodies in the Library:
I came across Umberto Eco’s literary theories during my second year in college. After that, I could not but admire this god-like man (in literary terms) so, after I saw The Cemetery of Prague‘s plot it just felt right to read it. Title: The Cemetery of Prague Author: Umberto Eco Year of Publication: 2009 Edition: Futura (Spanish edition) – Not published in England yet. Modern Fiction/Best-seller 4/5 Summary from Wikipedia: The novel begins in Paris in March 1897, and the main character, Captain Simonini – an adventurer and a forger, who works for the secret police a half of the states of Europe, as well as weaving conspiracies and preparing the assassination. According to Eco, “the characters of this novel are not imaginary. They all lived in reality, but actually the main character, but including his grandfather’s mysterious message Banyuelyu abbot, gave rise to all modern anti-Semitism.” “The nineteenth century was eventful in more or less monstrous and mysterious – and then a mystery death of Ippolito Nevo, and forgery of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that inspired Hitler’s extermination of the Jews and the Dreyfus affair, and endless intrigue who wove the secret police of different countries, and the Masonic sect, and Jesuit plots, and other events that would seem worthy of the novel with a sequel, when they would not authenticate the documents.” First of all, I have to say the book has 500 pages, but it makes easy reading. There are three narrators in the 1897 Parisian setting: the narrator (a man who has found the document we are actually reading and who adds his own notes and modifications from a supposed future), the main character, captain Simonini and a friar. Simonini is a mystery himself and so is his past, his present and also his future, adding more tension to the plot that covers his whole life. So, if you’ve ever studied literature, Eco is playing with the levels of fiction and the trust we put as readers into the narrator: can be trust Simonini’s words? and what about the man reporting and modifying the document? The Cemetery of Prague is a historic novel, full of suspense and tension. It is enriched by the uncountable references to places, art, books, people, wars, buildings, dishes, behaviour, politics… everything! Umberto Eco proves once again his mastery at almost any field making the book suitable for an enormous range of readers. It doesn’t matter if you like literature, history, art or even cooking. You will like this book. However, the references may complicate the plot too much and you might get lost, so, I recommend taking some notes while reading.