Excerpt from Baudolino by Umberto Eco, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by Umberto Eco

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  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 528 pages
    Oct 2003, 540 pages

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and I hidd myself for a good two hours under a bush saying sancta virgine help me then everything calmed down and some men ran by me speaking like people from Pavia and yelling they'd killed so many Derthonesi that it looked like a lake of Blood and they were very happy because now the Derthonesi would find out what it meant to side with the Mediolanenses

since those alamanns with the Frouwe business were coming back, may be not so many, because the Derthonesi hadnt exakly been idle I said to myself I better cleer out

so I walked and walked and got home when it was almost day and told the whole story to my father Galiaudo who said you big booby getting mixed up with seiges and the like one of these days you'll get a pike up your ass that stuff is all for the lords and masters so let them stew in their own juice because we have the cows to worry about and we're serious folk forget about Frederick, first he comes then he goes then he comes back and it adds up to fuckall

anyway Terdona didnt fall because they never got the fort. And it went on right up to the end of my story when the Allamanns cut off the water and so instead of drinking their own piss they told Frederick they were his men, he let them come out but first he burned the city and then chopped it to pieces like what the men of Pavia did because they're dead set against the Derthonesi here non est like the Alamans who all love one another and are as close as my crossed fingers but here at Gamondio if we see someone from Bergolio it makes our balls spin

but now back to my storey of when I was in the Frescheta woods there specially when theres real fog when you cant see the tip of your nose and things appear all of a sudden and you dont see them coming then I have visions like that time when I saw the unicorn and the other time when I saw Saint Baudolino who spoke to me and said sonofawhore youre going to Hell because the unicorn story goes like this everybody knows that to hunt a unicorn you have to put a girl whose still a virgin at the foot of a tree and the animal smells the virgin smell and comes and puts his head in her lap so I took Bergolio's Nena who had come with her father to buy my fathers cow and I said to her come into the woods with me and we'll hunt the unicorn then I put her under the Tree because I was sure she was a virgin and I said to her sit still like this and spread your legs to make room for the animal's head and she asked spread like this and I said there right there and I touched her and she began making some noises like a nanny goat dropping a kid and I lost my head and had something like a napocalips and afterwards she wasnt pure like a lily any more and she said o my god now how will we make the unicorn come and just then I heard a voice from Heaven said that the unicorn qui tollis peccata mundis was me and I started jumping around the bushes and crying hip heee frr frr because I was happier than a real unicorn because I had put my horn in the virgin's lap and this was why Saint Baudolino had called me son et setera but then he forgave me and I caught site of him other times but only if there is plenty of fog or if it isnt bright like to scorch everything.

but when I told my father Galiaudo that I saw Saint Baudolino he hit me on the back thirty times with a stick saying O Lord this had to happen to me, a son who sees things and cant even milk a cow either I bust his head with my stick or I give him to one of those men who visit the fairs making an African monky dance and my sainted mother shouted at me goodfornothing your the worst all what have I done to make the Lord give me a son who sees saints and my father Galiaudo said its not true he sees saints hes a wors liar than Judass and he makes things up to get out of working

I am telling this story because if I dont you wouldnt undertstand what happened that evening with the fog so thick you could cut it with a knife and it was already april but in our Parts theres fog even in august and if your not from those Parts you get lost between Burmia and Frescheta especially if there isnt a saint to take you by the bridle and there I was heading for home when I saw right in front of me a baron on a horse all covered with iron

From Baudolino by Umberto Eco; the full text of chapter 1. © 2000 RCS Libri S.p.A. English translation copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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