Too Far From the Bone?
Can you play fast and loose with the truth or do historical fiction writers have a responsibility to their readers? Peter Conrad in the Observer had a bone to pick with Umberto Eco:
For Eco, the undertaking may be playful, a study of noxious nonsense that is illustrated with some controversially nasty caricatures of greedy Jews. But some of the million copies of The Prague Cemetery already sold in Europe and South America have probably been read by fanatics and fantasists who are eager to be duped by the conspiracy theories that Eco sceptically demolishes. The chief rabbi of Rome has expressed alarm about the violence of Simonini’s hatred, and a review in the Vatican newspaper worried about the zest with which the novel revives injurious stereotypes. The world we live in – economically shaky, politically feeble, menaced by zealots, with a fearful populace half-elated by the prospect of catastrophe yet still urgently searching for scapegoats – is only too similar to that described by Eco in his survey of 19th-century Europe. What may have begun as a learned game, a pseudo-historical farrago in the manner of Dumas and Hugo, at times seems dangerously and reprehensibly close to the truth.
Read all reviews for THE PRAGUE CEMETERY here.