Cover image for Baudolino
Eco, Umberto.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Baudolino. Romanian
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, Inc., 2002.
Physical Description:
522 pages ; 24 cm
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Publisher description
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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Library
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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.

As always with Eco, this abundant novel includes dazzling digressions, outrageous tricks, extraordinary feeling, and vicarious reflections on our postmodern age. This is Eco the storyteller at his brilliant best.

International Bestseller

Author Notes

Umberto Eco was born in Alessandria, Italy on January 5, 1932. He received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Turin in 1954. His first book, Il Problema Estetico in San Tommaso, was an extension of his doctoral thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas and was published in 1956. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was published in 1980 and won the Premio Strega and the Premio Anghiar awards in 1981. In 1986, it was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Prague Cemetery, and Numero Zero. He also wrote children's books and more than 20 nonfiction books including Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. He taught philosophy and then semiotics at the University of Bologna. He also wrote weekly columns on popular culture and politics for L'Espresso. He died from cancer on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The challenges and joys of this Italian professor's internationally best-selling Name of the Rose (1983) indicated that literary and popular are not necessarily mutually exclusive terms. Eco's latest novel continues to support the concept. In keeping with his customary practice, Eco sets his story in the past--in this case, twelfth-century Europe and the Near East. A man named Baudolino, of northern Italian peasant stock, finds himself in Constantinople as the Crusaders are sacking the Byzantine capital. He tells his life story to a court official whose life he has saved, and what a story it is. As a youngster, he was adopted by the great Holy Roman emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Baudolino not only received his University of Paris education at the emperor's behest but also learned the geographical, cultural, and political dimensions of a much wider world than he could have ever known on his own as he accompanied Frederick on the emperor's exploits in maintaining the security of his realm. But for years Baudolino's dream was to travel east to visit the mythological domain of Prester John, a legendary priest and king. Eco's novel is dreamlike itself. He weaves with deeply colored threads a fantastical narrative that beautifully mixes the elements of an adventure story with intellectual discussions of theology, government, language, geography, and politics. The most provocative aspect of the tale, however, is the overarching question it poses about truth versus imagination in the act of recording history. This is historical fiction at its best: smart, enrapturing, and authentic. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

In another grand mythical epic, Eco transports readers to the medieval Italy of The Name of the Rose (though almost two centuries earlier), where Frederick Barbarossa seeks to establish himself as the Holy Roman emperor. The story begins in 1204, as the Byzantium capital of Constantinople is sacked and Baudolino, the adoptive son of Frederick, recounts his life to Byzantine historian Niketas, whom he has just saved from the barbaric Latins. Unfolding amid religious conspiracy theories and mysticism, the narrative, which builds slowly, follows the life of Baudolino, an Italian peasant boy who fabricates stories he realizes people want to believe in. While studying in Paris, Baudolino meets several friends from all over the world, who together divulge their intimate dreams and share their desire to discover distant places. 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. Eco seems to loosen the reins when the friends set out across unknown territories, where they grope through an eternally dark forest; traverse a river of stones and boulders; and encounter such mythical creatures as the sled-footed skiapods, dog-headed cynocephali and the Hypatia, beautiful sirens with the legs of goats. While the pilgrims are aware, to a certain extent, of Baudolino's truth-stretching, they all come to believe in their search, as does Baudolino himself. Eco builds his story upon light theological and historical debates, though fiction and history are more evenly balanced than in his previous book, The Island of the Day Before, making for a more engaging read. While this book lacks the suspense of The Name of the Rose, it is nevertheless a spirited story that might offer those previously daunted by his writing a more accessible entre. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Brother William of Baskerville heads to an Italian abbey in The Name of the Rose. Father Caspar sails the seven seas in The Island of the Day Before. Eco's characters are forever on the move, and his new protagonist is no exception. In 1204, as Constantinople is being plucked apart by knights of the Fourth Crusade, a hapless courtier named Niketas is rescued by Baudolino - adopted son of the emperor known as Barbarossa and a man with a fantastic tale to tell. And tell it he does, to the obliging Niketas, in over 500 pages of elaborate, historically precise detail. Baudolino's journey takes him from northern Italy, where as a clever peasant boy he encounters Barbarossa and is immediately taken to court, to studies in Paris, travels throughout Italy to defend Barbarossa's cause, and finally a quest deep into the East, where he hopes to find the magical kingdom of Prester John. If you have time to sink yourself deep into the text, this can be a delicious read, but there is less of the sparkling, diamond-cut investigation of ideas that can make Eco so much fun to read, and Baudolino's backing-and-forthing can get a bit tedious. Still, Eco is ever popular, this book is getting a big push, and Baudolino's adventures should please anyone looking for the ultimate medieval road novel. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.] - Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Baudolino tries his hand at writingRattisbon Anno Dommini Domini mense decembri mclv Cronicle of Baudolino of the fammily of Aulario.I Baudolino son of Galiaudo Gagliaudo of the Aulari with a head that looks like a lion halleluia gratias to the Allmighty may he forgive meego habeo facto the greatest stealing of my life, I mean from the cabbinet of the Bishop Oto I have stollen many pages that may belong to the Immperial Chancellor and I have scraped clean almost all of them excepting where the writing would not come off et now I have much parchmint to write down what I want which is my own story even if I don't know to write Latin.if they find out the pages are gone God knows the Hell they will raze et may be theyll think it was some spy of the Roman bishops who hate the Emperer Fredericusbut may be nobody cares in the chancellery they write and write even when theres no need and whoever finds them (these pages) can shove them up his...wont do anything about themncipit prologus de duabus civilitatibus historiae AD mcxliii conscriptsaepe multumque volvendo mecum de rerum temporalium motu ancipitqthese lines were allready here before and I couldnt scratch them away so I leave themif they find these pages now Ive writen on them not even a chancelor will understand them because this lingua here is what they talk at la Frescheta but noboddy knows to write it downbut even if its a langwadge noboddy understands they can tell right away its me because everyboddy says we Frescheta people talk a lingua no Kristian ever heard so I have to hide these pages wellJes writing is hard work all my fingers ake allreadymy father Galiaudo always use to say I must have a gift of Santa maria of Roboreto because since I was a little pup if someboddy say just quinkue five V words I could do their talk right off whether they came from Terdona or from Gavi and even from Mediolanum where they talk stranger than dogs, anyway even when I met the first Alamanni in my life who were laying siege seige seege to Terdona, all Toische and nasty and they say rousz and Myn got, before the day was over I was saying rousz and Myn got too and they woiud would say to me Kint go find us a pretty Frouwe and we'll do fiki fiki even if she doesn't wan to just tell us where she is and we'll grab her fastwhats a Frouwe I said and they said a womman a feemale du verstan and with theiur hands they made like big tits because in this siege we were kinmd of scarce on women, the ones in Terdona are in the town and when we enter just leave it to us but the wommen outside the town don't show their faces and then they set to cursing with words that gave even me goosebumpslousy shitty Hunns, you needn't think I'm going to tell you where the Frouws are, I'm no informer, keep jerking offmamma mia, they like to killed mekill or necabant, now I'm writing Latin almost, not that I understand Latin even if I learned to read from a Latin librum and when they talk Latin to me, I understand but its Excerpted from Baudolino by Umberto Eco All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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