My favorite living author Umberto Eco has a new novel Il Cimitero Di Praga, which seems to be causing a bit of controversy. Unfortunately, English readers will have to wait unti the fall of 2012 to see what's the hoopla. (At least it will come before the Mayan apocalypse!)
Eco, who made his literary debut 30 years ago with In the Name of the Rose, takes on freemasonry, conspiracy theories, forgery and the unification of Italy amongst other things in this latest novel, but at its core is anti-semitism and perhaps the most famous – and certainly the most pernicious – forgery in the world: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The main character of Eco’s novel, the fictitious* Simone Simonini, whom he describes as ‘the most hateful man in the world’, is a master forger in the employ of various secret services. Fuelled by anti-semitism, he concocts the ultimate conspiracy theory, where a mythic meeting of the elders of Zion takes place in the Jewish cemetery in Prague, detailing their nefarious plan to rule the world.
It’s not the first time that Eco has examined conspiracy theories, or indeed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (for example, they play a significant role in Foucault’s Pendulum, but this time the focus in particular on the most famous anti-semitic conspiracy theory, and his choice of a convinced anti-semitic protagonist has rasied objections.
For those without the mental agility to process irony will certainly object to Eco's latest narrative. But personally, I cannot wait.