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August 05, 2004

A letter

Dear Umberto Eco,

I'm 58 pages into Baudolino, your latest novel. It is, I'm sure you're aware, about a 13th century peasant boy who was adopted by Emperor Frederick.

There are two kinds of novels that frustrate me. The first kind is typified by those of John Grisham and Dean Koontz, in which my suspended disbelief is threatened by the occasional highly dubious grammatical construct (apparently they're too famous to have editors). Your novels fall into the second category, in that I am forced with some regularity either to consult a dictionary ("chrism"? "catechumens"? "the mirabilia of that urbs"?) or attempt to decipher Latin or Greek ("kyrieleison pighe pighe"? "Chronica sive Historia de duabus civitatibus"?).

I'm sure "Gesta Dei per Francos" was an awfully witty way to end a chapter, and "(Polanos de Polunia, wrote Otto, gens quasi barbara ad pugnandum promptissima.)" was a valuable paranthetical addition, but I'm afraid I don't rank amongst the eight people in the world who understand Latin, and thus they were both lost on me entirely.

You may be "one of the world's finest writers" (New York Times), but you make me feel stupid. Perhaps the guy at the New York Times felt stupid, too, and that's why he called you a fine writer.

There seems to be a decent story emerging, though, so I'm going to persevere. I'm going to ignore your pretensions (slash symptoms of genius) and assume anything important to the story will be in English.

Hugs and kisses, Ross


At January 23, 2011 at 12:28 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahaha. Thats the point of all Eco books. Eco is smarter than you


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