Dan Friedman

Umberto Eco on Conspiracies and Novels

In Books, Culture, Interviews, Visual Media on November 24, 2011 at 3:52 am

I couldn’t get that unlit cigar out of my mind. I was in congenial conversation with someone I deeply admired but all I could think of was that mysterious cylinder of tobacco. As he spoke, it was all I could do to concentrate, but unraveling the plot depended upon it; demystifying “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” depended upon it.

Umberto Eco’s latest novel, “The Prague Cemetery,” is a historical novel about a fictitious Captain Simonini who, in recounting his bizarre life, explains how he came to write what we now know as “The Protocols.” Populated by historical characters including, in passing, a M. Froïde from Vienna during his Paris sojourn, the novel covers the expanse of fin-de-siecle Europe. It was a time when, as Eco commented in the elevator to his hotel room, everything that we use now was invented, with the exception of the airplane which had to wait another two years.

I sat down with Eco and a video camera the day before his book was released to try to look past the cigar and find out why he wrote this novel — why now — and whether there was any link between Simonini’s virulent anti-Semitism and his oft-detailed gustatory delight.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: