Tuesday, June 17, 2008

FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM by Umberto Eco

The Book: Umberto Eco, FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988 (first trade edition). Inscribed to the owner: "Good subway reading, or so everyone in D.C. seems to believe. Read it in good health -- Love, Carmen -- X-mas 1989." Fine condition.
First read: Still reading (theoretically)
Owned since: 1989

On the subject of unwieldy books that take years to read, here's one. I've been moving this book since 1989 -- it has accompanied me to eight separate residences -- and I haven't finished it yet. In fact, it's been a while since I last made the effort, and it's probably time for me to try again.

It is possible, if I've known you for a while, that you have the impression I've read this book. I may have implied that I'd read it, at some point -- as the inscription above suggests, everyone in Washington was reading it, or pretending to, 20 years ago. Because its subject matter is similar to that of the (inferior but easier-to-read) Da Vinci Code, I may have dropped this book's title into a few conversations during the Da Vinci Code mania -- again, perhaps, conveying the impression that I had, in fact, finished this book.

Sigh. I am such a damn fraud. I've written about this before, though, and it's one of my pal Tod Goldberg's favorite topics: the inevitable tendency of bookish people to pretend they've read things they haven't. It's rooted in shame, and a terrible snobbery; people I despise got through this book, why can't I?

So maybe, when the current whirl of activity settles a little, I'll tackle this book again. If you've read it, if you like it, leave me a comment to say why I should make the effort one more time.

4 comments:

Bea said...

I've already talked to you about how great this book is. It is really great.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should give yourself permission to leave this one behind. Life is too short to waste time on a book you don't enjoy.
Susan

AnswerGirl said...

So obviously, people I respect like this book, too...

Jennifer Lechner said...

The current whirl of activity nevers ends. If it were REALLY important you would do it.