Giving Away the Plot

Foucault's Pendulum Last night I finished Foucault's Pendulum. It's been on my bookshelf for years, but I have a tough time reading fiction—especially something this long. So I feel like this is a good accomplishment, and fiction may not be a lost cause for me after all. One thing that was really disappointing though, was that the plot was revealed in the summaries of the book. If you read what the book is about on Amazon, or even on the book jacket, they give away the last 100 pages. So I knew what the preceeding 400 pages were leading up to. The surface-level plot wasn't the best part of the book, but I was still curious about how the main character got into his predicament laid out in the first chapter, and that was the structure holding the book together as the story moved to different points in time. So throughout the book I felt that I knew more than I should while I was reading. I guess that's why if there's a movie I really want to see I'll do everything I can to avoid reviews and previews because I want to be in the experience rather than aware of it. Anyway, that aside, it's a great book that demonstrates the complete flexibility of truth, meaning, and history—and that's all you need to know going in. Now, on to the nonfiction books that have been piling up on my "to read" list.

Comments

I can't say I enjoyed <i>Foucault's Pendulum</i> but it was extremely interesting, albeit tiring to read. I think Eco's point in the book is the futility of deconstructionism - a "conspiracy theory" of texts, in the allegorical world of the book. I loved the way he made the reader descend into the conspiracies, piling them on, deeper and deeper until it was oppressive.
I think I enjoyed it more than you...I didn't find the conspiracies opressive. It seemed to be going that direction for me, but at some point they became comical. (Until it got very serious for the characters toward the end.) I don't want to ruin anything--so stop reading (!) if you haven't read the book--but at the end Eco shows how anything can be connected to anything else via free association. I thought that little demo summed up the book nicely. I didn't take away that Eco thinks deconstructionism is futile (his field is semiotics) but that meaning is created rather than inherent.
Well, I think you may be misinterpreting my point about deconstructionism. One can believe that meaning is created and yet disagree with (or have concerns with) deconstructionism at the same time. Just Google for interviews with Eco. He says things like:

"I have always been fascinated by the idea of conspiracy, which doesn't hold only in the political world but also sometimes in literary interpretation."

His scholarly works classify deconstruction as generally falling into the error of over-interpretation. He would argue that not all interpretations are valid and has worked to inject common sense into the picture.

Anyway, your point that anything can be connected to anything by free association is the essence of Eco's problem with deconstructionism being an error of overinterpretation. Also, just observe the outcome for those characters who embrace that free association ;)
heh, makes sense. Maybe I'm not as critical of the protagonist as I should be. ;) The characters always found meaning beneath the surface...and I didn't get the sense that Eco was cautioning against that. The characters got in trouble when they created meaning for selfish reasons and ended up using that meaning as a weapon. But that doesn't mean their invented meaning wasn't "correct". Maybe their interpretation of history was true--it became true to at least one of them.

I'd like to read more of Eco's thoughts on deconstruction--I'll have to do some looking around.
He has scholarly books on semiotics; my guess is that they're the kind of books you have to read dictionary in hand, but if you have a philosophy background, they should be pretty easy going.

In general, the whole field of hermeneutics produces books that are pretty hard to read ;)
This '98 interview was helpful--

http://www.humnet.unipi.it/~pacitti/Archive199892.htm
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