I would estimate that 88% of this book went over my head. While I got the basic gist of the plot (yay me) I didn’t understand almost all of the deeply theoretical discussion and I missed almost all of the references, excluding Nicholas Flamel because I have read Harry Potter.
Foucault’s Pendulum is in its most basic form an adventure story. The narrator, Casaubon, and two of his colleagues at their publishing firm, Diotallevi and Belbo are visited by a strange colonel who claims to have unmasked a great secret of the Knights Templar. The colonel then disappears, leaving a faint trail of foul play for the police. Thus Diotallevi, Belbo and Casaubon are drawn into the mystery and decide to create a mythical storyline of how the Knights Templar disappeared and what they are currently up to. The story, however, turns real, and the three men find themselves running for their lives.
What makes this book so difficult and dense is the fact that Umberto Eco needs to prove to his readers how intelligent he is. Thus, every page and passage is filled with obscure references to thinkers, scholars and alchemists. I have taken the time to note each of these references on just one page. you can see the abundance of them (note: these are just the references I did not understand).
I really do not know how I finished this book and debated stopping at numerous times. Perhaps if I ever get deep into the alchemic arts or the history of the Knights Templar I’ll be able to go back and reread this with newfound enthusiasm, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
A dutiful reader would have taken note of the ten sections of this book (Keter, Hokhmah, Binah, Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Nezah, Hod, Yesod and Malkhut. Maybe if I had done that, this narrative would have made more sense. As it was, I didn’t pay any attention to these section headings and thus probably missed even more than my estimated 88%.
I guess I am proud of myself for finishing this book, but honestly wish I hadn’t wasted my time and had moved on to other things I would have liked more.