Read Harder: The Prague Cemetery

2 01 2015

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1c5/35856733/files/2015/01/img_0094.jpgWe are kicking the Read Harder challenge off with a bang! My first book, The Prague Cemetery – Amazon by Umberto Eco is a doozy. It is a dense, dark, historical novel exploring the rise of Anti-Semitism. So why did I choose it first?

Well, for starters, it had been sitting in my Kindle books for a while, and I am hoping this year to really work through my digital and physical book shelves. But what really grabbed me is the general framework of the novel. A man, Simonini, wakes up to realize he can’t remember the previous several days and at the same time discovers that he is sharing his house with another man, Abbé Della Piccola, of whom he also has no memory. The two never meet but begin piecing together their recent and distant pasts by writing notes back and forth.

The concept is brilliant. The mystery holds. The characters are unlikeable, pretty much without exception. The conclusion is fairly satisfying. However, I felt like the book was bogged down with way to much detail of all the bizarre conspiracies (and conspiracy theories) relating to the Jews, Jesuits, Masons, and others. However, it that is your kind of thing, I think you would love this book.

The Prague Cemetery is filling the “originally published in another language” category for me. Eco released this book in his native Italian, with an English translation published the following year. Perhaps Italian readers would be more familiar with the historical and political details of the first half of the book (lots on Garibaldi), but I found it fairly accessible. I appreciated Kindle’s integration with a dictionary and Wikipedia to help me fill some of the gaps.

Bottom line: Check out The Prague Cemetery if you love digging into historical details and conspiracy theories.




One response

2 01 2015

I love Umberto Eco. I have read The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. I’ll have to check this one out!

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