Simon Rees

Pressure of a Cork

Foucault’s Pendulum

By Umberto Eco (Translated by William Weaver)

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Now if it had been Michel Foucault’s pendulum…but the Foucault in this case is Jean Bernard Léon (1819–68), and it is beside his pendulum, a copper sphere on a long thin wire suspended and swinging from the vault of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris, that the narrator Casaubon waits patiently through six hundred pages of post–modernist prose for the climax of Eco’s second novel. So any speculation about the other Foucault’s pendulum would seem irrelevant, even irreverent, except that, having been conjured up accidentally, the shade of the great historian of sexuality hovers inexorcisably over the whole work.

Royal Shakespeare Company

Donmar Warehouse

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