Marco's Blog

All content personal opinions or work.
en eo

Baudolino (U. Eco)

2003-09-29 2 min read Books marco

There is something that always fascinated me about Umberto Eco: he manages to remain faithful to his main theme, to focus more and more on it, to become a better writer, to accomplish more and better things; and yet he is tied to trail his own success with his first novel.
“The Name of the Rose” was an admirable exercise in medieval crime novel, and was so successful that it spawned an enormous following of second and third (and fourth) tier colleagues. The monk-as-detective became all the rage, and the movie from the film was a huge success.
Despite all of this, the book suffered heavily from the lack of experience of the writer: descriptions would end up taking pages and pages and interrupt the flow of narration at the most inopportune times; the actors were wooden and caricatured instead of portrayed; the story was a bit predictable and too much like a classical ‘whodunit’.
So one would think, when he improves on all these elements, Eco would be more successful. Wrong guess! His second novel, Foucault’s Pendulum, was no match for his audience. The third, the Island of the Day Before, was too dull even for me; and finally, Baudolino, has barely been acknowledged.
Yet Baudolino succeeds as a novel. The storyline is coherent and well orchestrated. No longer does Eco bore us with endless enumerations just when we need to know what happened to the hero; no more is the hero barely able to have a relationship with anyone – this time there are lots of aventures amoureuxes.
Should you read it? If you have an interest in late medieval history, of course. If not, not really worth it. And I can tell you for sure – I have read the book with gusto, because I am really fascinated by the period and the location (Constantinople around 1204); but somehow the book fills me with a generic: ‘so what?’ that none of the other ones did.