Book Review: The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

Review: The Prague Cemetery, Umberto Eco

The very first thing to mention about this piece of work is that it will take a lot of concentration and a lot of brain power to understand and follow this book. It is not a light hearted book that you read on a beach. No. It is an intense, difficult, academic-type book that you read in a prison cell where there are no distractions. Except if you are in a prison cell, you are clearly not intelligible enough to get involved with the Prague cemetery.

Also, I feel that I should maybe clarify that in terms of my reviews, they are more concerned with my opinions of the thing I am reviewing rather than reiterate the plot, which you can gather for yourself by taking up the book/film, etc.

Right. On to the book. It is relatively hard to decide which the main story is and which the sub narrative is. Is it a book about a man with split personality disorder who also happens to be involved in a lot of shady stuff, or is it a story of a man involved in war, conspiracy and corruption who also has some kind of mental affliction?

Once you get around this confusion, it is a genuinely intriguing tale of forgery and anti-Semitism, and in some amazing way, Umberto Eco manages to make his main character an anti-Semite (as well as an avid hater of most races/religions, etc) whilst also demonstrating the evils of anti-Semitism. Plus, all the characters (other than the main character, Simonini) are real historical figures. Pretty cool, Umberto! [Why do I always go for the complex and confusing? Maybe next time I’ll read Spot the Dog and provide you with a nice simple review.]

I admit I am yet too young, naïve, and other synonyms, to have clawed my way through much of Eco’s works, but there is a five year plan in action (basically my ‘to read’ list) that involves most of Umberto’s literature. Another obstacle that I found is that my knowledge of late 19th century history isn’t particularly expansive, although this book did spurn a lot of googling of events of that era.

Two pieces of advice: 1. read this book. 2. Do a heck of a lot of research vis-à-vis ‘The Protocols of The Elders of Zion’ and the surrounding controversy and remember that Eco is describing the very thing that sparked the most memorable and horrific act of genocide in history.

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