Summary and book reviews of Baudolino by Umberto Eco

Baudolino

by Umberto Eco

Baudolino by Umberto Eco X
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 540 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Fuses historical events of the twelfth century with myths and fables, juicy romance, real political issues, and deep questions of faith--the result is dazzling fireworks.

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.

1
Baudolino tries his hand at writing.

Rattisbon 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 me

ego 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 Fredericus

but 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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

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, our hero, 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 long and winding--and thoroughly 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 ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

The New Yorker
The hero of this phenomenal puzzler is one Baudolino, an inveterate liar, poet, and adventurer, whose charm and wit win him the favor of Frederick Barbarossa.

Publishers Weekly
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 entrée.

Kirkus Reviews
A little learning, reputedly a dangerous thing, can be lethal when allowed to overpower a story as relentlessly as it does in Baudolino.

Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
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.

Booklist - Brad Hooper
Starred 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.... This is historical fiction at its best smart, enrapturing, and authentic.

Welt Am Sonntag (Germany)
Fuses historical events of the twelfth century with myths and fables, juicy romance, real political issues, and deep questions of faith--and the result is dazzling fireworks.

La Repubblica (Italy)
Without a doubt the author's most playful book, suffused with an atmosphere of fanciful freedom.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Umberto Eco

If you liked Baudolino, try these:

  • The Land Beyond the Sea jacket

    The Land Beyond the Sea

    by Sharon Kay Penman

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More books by this author

    From the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Sharon Kay Penman comes the story of the reign of King Baldwin IV and the Kingdom of Jerusalem's defense against Saladin's famous army.

  • The Mirror Thief jacket

    The Mirror Thief

    by Martin Seay

    Published 2017

    About this book

    Set in three cities in three eras, The Mirror Thief calls to mind David Mitchell and Umberto Eco in its mix of entertainment and literary bravado.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...
  • Book Jacket: Piranesi
    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
    Our First Impressions readers were delighted with this speculative novel by Susanna Clarke, her ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bell in the Lake
    The Bell in the Lake
    by Lars Mytting
    A legend from Lars Mytting's Norwegian hometown tells of two centuries-old church bells that, like ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Where the Light Enters
by Sara Donati

An enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in 19th century New York.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.