“Baudolino, with its richly variegated haul of medieval treasures, remains compulsively readable.” —The New York Times Book Review
The author of the international sensation The Name of the Rose returns to the Middle Ages in this beguiling tale of history, myth, and invention.
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.
With dazzling digressions, outrageous tricks, extraordinary feeling, and vicarious reflections on our postmodern age, this is Eco the storyteller at his brilliant best.
Umberto Eco (1932–2016) was the author of numerous essay collections and seven novels, including The Name of the Rose, The Prague Cemetery, and Inventing the Enemy. He received Italy’s highest literary award, the Premio Strega; was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government; and was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“A truly marvelous novel by one of the world's finest writers.” — The New York Daily News
“Baudolino, with its richly variegated haul of medieval treasures, remains compulsively readable.” — New York Times Book Review
“In this whimsical yet deadly earnest tale, Eco puts forth the question that perpetually beguiles him and with which he perpetually beguiles the rest of us: If a teller of tales tells us he's telling the truth, how can we know for sure what really happened?” — New Yorker
“A richly rewarding novel, as satisfying as it is stimulating. . . . This is a novel that keeps getting better, gathering irresistible force as it sweeps toward its brilliantly inevitable conclusion.” — Christian Science Monitor