Baudolino by Umberto Eco

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Synopsis

It is April 1204, and Constantinople, the splendid capital of the Byzantine Empire, is being sacked and burned by the knights of the Fourth Crusade. Amid the carnage and confusion, one Baudolino saves a historian and high court official from certain death at the hands of the crusading warriors and proceeds to tell his own fantastical story.

Born a simple peasant in northern Italy, Baudolino has two major gifts-a talent for learning languages and a skill in telling lies. When still a boy he meets a foreign commander in the woods, charming him with his quick wit and lively mind. The commander-who proves to be Emperor Frederick Barbarossa-adopts Baudolino and sends him to the university in Paris, where he makes a number of fearless, adventurous friends.

Spurred on by myths and their own reveries, this merry band sets out in search of Prester John, a legendary priest-king said to rule over a vast kingdom in the East-a phantasmagorical land of strange creatures with eyes on their shoulders and mouths on their stomachs, of eunuchs, unicorns, and lovely maidens.

With dazzling digressions, outrageous tricks, extraordinary feeling, and vicarious reflections on our postmodern age, this is Eco the storyteller at his brilliant best.
 

About Umberto Eco

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UMBERTO ECO is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the best-selling author of numerous novels and essays. He lives in Italy.
 
Published October 6, 2003 by Mariner Books. 546 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Baudolino

Kirkus Reviews

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“Grail”) and make it an offering from Barbarossa to the even more legendary Prester John, the fabulously wealthy Christian King of the Orient whose “sovereignty extended over the Three Indias .

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The Guardian

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Baudolino by Umberto Eco translated by William Weaver Secker & Warburg £18, pp522 At one point in Umberto Eco's new novel, the hero and his companions are busy forging a letter from Prester John, the legendary Christian king of the remote East.

Oct 27 2002 | Read Full Review of Baudolino

The Guardian

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Baudolino and a group of travelling companions - the poet in love with an unseen woman, a Jewish rabbi looking for the lost tribes, a pair of quarrelling scientists disputing the existence of a vacuum, a nasty priest called Zosimos - call Prester John and his fantastic land into being simply by s...

Oct 19 2002 | Read Full Review of Baudolino

Publishers Weekly

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Two decades later, Baudolino calls together his friends to embark on what will be a lifelong journey to find Prester John, the Christian priest of the East, whose fabled reputation Baudolino has helped create.

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AV Club

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A true story of a real fake: In the 12th century, as Europe began to feel anxiety over the long-term success of the Crusades, a widespread legend concerned a perfect Christian kingdom in the East ruled by a high priest and king named Prester John.

Nov 27 2002 | Read Full Review of Baudolino

Entertainment Weekly

Part Puck, part Gulliver, and kissing kin to Kissinger, Baudolino is a singular creation, both pre- and postmodern in his casual conflation of fabula and historia.

Oct 25 2002 | Read Full Review of Baudolino

SF Site

Thus the author's hand, through the narrator, becomes far too evident for the reader to become fully engaged with the story, and even the use of metaphor and symbolism, as in the parodies of the nature of the Trinity, or the play upon language early in the book, become isolated, visited briefly o...

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London Review of Books

He has assured his companions that ‘unknown languages would create no problems, because when he had spoken with barbarians for a little while, he learned to speak as they did.’ There is much in this novel about languages, in particular about the way vernaculars and dialects fight it out with the ...

May 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Baudolino

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