Eco, Umberto Baudolino

ISBN 13: 9780156029063

Baudolino

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9780156029063: Baudolino

Eco returns to the Middle Ages with Baudolino - a wondrous, provocative, beguiling tale of history, myth, and invention. 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 Byzantine 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 foreign languages and skill in telling lies. One day, when still a boy, he met a foreign commander in the woods, charming him with his quick wit and lively mind. The commander - who proves to be the 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 who was 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. As always with Eco, this abundant novel includes dazzling digressions, outrageous tricks, pages of extraordinary feeling and poetry, and vicarious reflections on our postmodern age. Baudolino is an utterly marvelous tale by the inimitable author of The Name of the Rose.

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Product Description:

An extraordinary epic, brilliantly-imagined, new novel from a world-class writer and author of The Name of the Rose. Discover the Middle Ages with Baudolino - a wondrous, dazzling, beguiling tale of history, myth and invention.

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

Review:

In Baudolino the ever ingenious Umberto Eco draws on the medieval legends surrounding Prester John--a mythical Christian emperor of the Far East--to create a sprawling, picaresque adventure yarn.

The eponymous Baudolino is the book's hero and chief, although deeply unreliable, narrator. After a brief foray into Baudolino's youthful attempts at autobiography, the novel opens in Constantinople in 1204, at the time of the Fourth Crusade. Baudolino has helped Niketas Choniates, the chancellor of the basileus of Byzantium, to flee the city. As the men make their way to safety Baudolino begins to recount, with numerous digressions and contradictions, his extraordinary life story. Born an Italian peasant, Baudolino claims to have been adopted as a boy by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Sent to Paris to learn "the art of saying well that which may or may not be true" Baudolino fell in with a band of good fellows and fell in love with his stepmother. After being embroiled in the canonisation of Charlemagne; finding the sacred remains of the Magi and helping Frederick with a siege or two, Baudolino and chums, armed with the Holy Grail, set off on a particularly monster strewn journey to find the holy Prestor John. Teaming with Eco's customary metafictional games, intellectual jokes and elaborate (and even ludicrous) theological discussions, this novel is possibly his most accessible, and arguably enjoyable, since The Name of the Rose. --Travis Elborough

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