Baudolino: A Novel

Paperback | October 15, 2003

byUmberto EcoTranslated byWilliam WeaverContribution byWilliam R.C.S. Libri

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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.

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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 s...

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 Legion d'Honneur by the French government, and was an honorary member of the Ame...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:544 pages, 7.91 × 6.91 × 0.94 inPublished:October 15, 2003Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156029065

ISBN - 13:9780156029063

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Astounding WOW. I picked up this book, expecting it to be just another book that looked amazing. Within twenty pages I was absoulutely hooked. The last hundred are difficult to finish simply because you don't want it too end. Eco takes virtually every European folk story, ranging from the Holy Grail and the Kingdom of Prester John and plays infinately long games with them. The main character, Baudolino, will make you both laugh until your stomach hurts and make you cry your heart out. A fantastic, epic book which is written in such historical detail that you feel as if Umberto lived around the same time. A must read for anyone who likes tall tails which keep getting taller.
Date published: 2006-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful mix! In Baudolino the themes of companionship, medieval romanticism, treachery, cruelty, and creed as well as contemporary technological sophistications and devices are portrayed with brilliance that characterizes Eco's style of writing. While the narrative is itself capturing and filled with breathtaking comparisons and head-spinning twists of plot, the detective story's apogee at the end, impresses immensely. A great book!
Date published: 2004-07-12

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Baudolino tries his hand at writingRattisbon Anno Dommini Domini mense decembri mclv Cronicle of Baudolino of the fammily of Aulario. I Baudolino son of Galiaudo Gagliaudo of the Aulari with a head that looks like a lion halleluia gratias to the Allmighty may he forgive me ego habeo facto the greatest stealing of my life, I mean from the cabbinet of the Bishop Oto I have stollen many pages that may belong to the Immperial Chancellor and I have scraped clean almost all of them excepting where the writing would not come off et now I have much parchmint to write down what I want which is my own story even if I don't know to write Latin. if they find out the pages are gone God knows the Hell they will raze et may be theyll think it was some spy of the Roman bishops who hate the Emperer Fredericus but may be nobody cares in the chancellery they write and write even when theres no need and whoever finds them (these pages) can shove them up his...wont do anything about them ncipit prologus de duabus civilitatibus historiae AD mcxliii conscript saepe multumque volvendo mecum de rerum temporalium motu ancipitq these lines were allready here before and I couldnt scratch them away so I leave them if they find these pages now Ive writen on them not even a chancelor will understand them because this lingua here is what they talk at la Frescheta but noboddy knows to write it down but even if its a langwadge noboddy understands they can tell right away its me because everyboddy says we Frescheta people talk a lingua no Kristian ever heard so I have to hide these pages well Jesù writing is hard work all my fingers ake allready my father Galiaudo always use to say I must have a gift of Santa maria of Roboreto because since I was a little pup if someboddy say just quinkue five V words I could do their talk right off whether they came from Terdona or from Gavi and even from Mediolanum where they talk stranger than dogs, anyway even when I met the first Alamanni in my life who were laying siege seige seege to Terdona, all Toische and nasty and they say rousz and Myn got, before the day was over I was saying rousz and Myn got too and they woiud would say to me Kint go find us a pretty Frouwe and we'll do fiki fiki even if she doesn't wan to just tell us where she is and we'll grab her fast whats a Frouwe I said and they said a womman a feemale du verstan and with theiur hands they made like big tits because in this siege we were kinmd of scarce on women, the ones in Terdona are in the town and when we enter just leave it to us but the wommen outside the town don't show their faces and then they set to cursing with words that gave even me goosebumps lousy shitty Hunns, you needn't think I'm going to tell you where the Frouws are, I'm no informer, keep jerking off mamma mia, they like to killed me kill or necabant, now I'm writing Latin almost, not that I understand Latin even if I learned to read from a Latin librum and when they talk Latin to me, I understand but its the writing I don't know how you write the words Goddamm I never know if it's equus or equum and I always get it wrong while for us a horse is always a chivaus and I never get it wrong because nobody writes Horse in fact they dont write anything because they dont know how to read but that day things went all right and the germanns didn't harm a hair of my head because just then some milites arrived yelling come on come on we're attacking again and then Hell broke loose and I couldnt think with the cavalry going this way and the foot soldeiers going that way with their banners and trumpets blowing and wooden towers tall as the trees of Burmia moving like carts with bowmen and fundibulari on them and others carrying ladders and all these arrows raining down on them like hail and the others flinging stones with a kind of big Spoone and they whistled over my head like the iaculi that the Derthonesi threw from the walls, what an uproar! and I hidd myself for a good two hours under a bush saying sancta virgine help me then everything calmed down and some men ran by me speaking like people from Pavia and yelling they'd killed so many Derthonesi that it looked like a lake of Blood and they were very happy because now the Derthonesi would find out what it meant to side with the Mediolanenses since those alamanns with the Frouwe business were coming back, may be not so many, because the Derthonesi hadnt exakly been idle I said to myself I better cleer out so I walked and walked and got home when it was almost day and told the whole story to my father Galiaudo who said you big booby getting mixed up with seiges and the like one of these days you'll get a pike up your ass that stuff is all for the lords and masters so let them stew in their own juice because we have the cows to worry about and we're serious folk forget about Frederick, first he comes then he goes then he comes back and it adds up to fuckall anyway Terdona didnt fall because they never got the fort. And it went on right up to the end of my story when the Allamanns cut off the water and so instead of drinking their own piss they told Frederick they were his men, he let them come out but first he burned the city and then chopped it to pieces like what the men of Pavia did because they're dead set against the Derthonesi here non est like the Alamans who all love one another and are as close as my crossed fingers but here at Gamondio if we see someone from Bergolio it makes our balls spin but now back to my storey of when I was in the Frescheta woods there specially when theres real fog when you cant see the tip of your nose and things appear all of a sudden and you dont see them coming then I have visions like that time when I saw the unicorn and the other time when I saw Saint Baudolino who spoke to me and said sonofawhore youre going to Hell because the unicorn story goes like this everybody knows that to hunt a unicorn you have to put a girl whose still a virgin at the foot of a tree and the animal smells the virgin smell and comes and puts his head in her lap so I took Bergolio's Nena who had come with her father to buy my fathers cow and I said to her come into the woods with me and we'll hunt the unicorn then I put her under the Tree because I was sure she was a virgin and I said to her sit still like this and spread your legs to make room for the animal's head and she asked spread like this and I said there right there and I touched her and she began making some noises like a nanny goat dropping a kid and I lost my head and had something like a napocalips and afterwards she wasnt pure like a lily any more and she said o my god now how will we make the unicorn come and just then I heard a voice from Heaven said that the unicorn qui tollis peccata mundis was me and I started jumping around the bushes and crying hip heee frr frr because I was happier than a real unicorn because I had put my horn in the virgin's lap and this was why Saint Baudolino had called me son et setera but then he forgave me and I caught site of him other times but only if there is plenty of fog or if it isnt bright like to scorch everything. but when I told my father Galiaudo that I saw Saint Baudolino he hit me on the back thirty times with a stick saying O Lord this had to happen to me, a son who sees things and cant even milk a cow either I bust his head with my stick or I give him to one of those men who visit the fairs making an African monky dance and my sainted mother shouted at me goodfornothing your the worst all what have I done to make the Lord give me a son who sees saints and my father Galiaudo said its not true he sees saints hes a wors liar than Judass and he makes things up to get out of working I am telling this story because if I dont you wouldnt undertstand what happened that evening with the fog so thick you could cut it with a knife and it was already april but in our Parts theres fog even in august and if your not from those Parts you get lost between Burmia and Frescheta especially if there isnt a saint to take you by the bridle and there I was heading for home when I saw right in front of me a baron on a horse all covered with iron it was the baron covered with iron not the horse and with a sword he looked like the King of Arragon and I like to died Mamma mia you want to bet this really is Saint Baudolino whose here to take me to Hell but he said Kleine kint Bitte and I caught on that he was an Alaman lord lost in the wood because of the fog and he couldnt find his friends and it was almost night and he showed me a Coin and I had never seen Money before and he was happy I could answer in his language and in Diutsch I said to him if you keep straight youll end in the swamp sure as sunshine may be I shouldnt have said sunshine with that fog you could cut with a Knife but he understood all the same and then I said I know the Germanes come from a country where its always Spring and maybe the seeders of Lebanon grow there but here in the Palea theres fog and in this fog there are some bastards roming around who are still the grandsons of the grandsons of the Ayrabics who fought against Charlemain and theyre a bad bunch and when they see a stranger they hit him in the face with a club and they steal even the hair on his head ergo if you come to my fathers hut youll find a bowl of hot broth and some straw to sleep on in the stable then tomorrow morning at daybreak Ill show you the road specially if you have that Coin gratias benedicite we're poor folk but honest so I took him to my father Galiaudo who started yelling you damn fool whats got into your head you told my name to a stranger whose with those people theres no telling maybe hes even a vassal of the marquis of Monferrato and hes going to ask me for a tithe de fructibus and de hay and leguminibus or a tax on the cattle now we are ruined and he was about to reach for his stick I told him the Gentleman was an Alaman et non from Mon Ferrato and he said all the worse but when I told him about the Coin he calmed down because the Marengo people have heads hard as a bulls but sly as a horse and he understood that he could make something out of this and he said to me you speak all laangwidges so say these things to him Item: we are poor folk but honest Ive already told him that all the same its better to repeat it and item thanks for the Coin. But theres also the matter of the hay for the horse item besides the hot soup I can add a piece of cheese and some bread and a jug of the good stuff item he can sleep where you sleep by the fire and tonight you go to the stable item show me the Coin and I want a Genovine solido and then fiat like one of the family because for us Marengo folk the guest is sacred the Gentleman said haha you are smart you Marincum folk but a negotio est un negotio I will give you two of these Coins and you wont ask for a Genovine solido because with a Genovine solido I can kauf your house and all your stock but take this and be quiet because youre still making a profit my father kept quiet and took the two Coins that the Gentleman dropped on the table because the Marengo folks heads are hard but sly and he ate like a wolf (the gentleman) or rather like two (wolfs) then while my father and my mother went off to sleep after breaking their backs all day while I was out in the Frescheta the herre said this wine is good I'll drink a bit more here by the fire so mine kint tell me how it is that you speak my langwidge so well ad petitionem tuam frater Ysingrine carissime primos libros chronicae meae missur ne humante pravitate heres another place I couldnt scrape off now to go back to my story of that Alaman lord who wanted to know how it was that I spoke his lingua and I told him that I have the gift of tongues like the Apossles and the gift of Vision like the Madalenes because I walk in the wood and I see Saint Baudolino riding a unicorn milk-colored like his twisted Horn just where horses have what for us would be a Nose but a horse doesn't have a Nose other wise underneath there would be a beard like that Gentleman had who had a fine beard the color of a copper pan where as the other Alamans I had seen had yellow hair even in their ears and he said well well you see what you would call a unicorn and maybe you mean the Monokeros but where did you learn that there are unicorns in this world and I told him I had read it in a book that the Frescheta hermit had and with his eyes so wide he looked like an owl he said What You know how to read too Lordamercy I said now Ill tell you the Story so the story went like this there was a holy hermit near Bosco who every so often the people took him a fat hen or a hare and he would pray over a written book and when people go by he hits his chest with a Stone but I say its a clod id est all dirt so he doesnt hurt himself so much anyway that morning we took him two eggs and while he was reading I said to myself one for you and one for me like good Christians if only he doesnt see me but I don't know how he managed but he caught me by the Neck and I said to him diviserunt vestimenta mea and he started laughing and said you know something youre a smart puerulus come here every day and Ill teach you to read so he taught me my written Letters to the tune of raps on my head. only later when we were friends he began saying what a handsome sturdy youth you are with a Lions head but show me how strong your arms are and whats your chest like let me touch here where the Legs begin to see if your sound then I figured out where he was heading and I hit him with my knee on the balls I mean the Testicules and he bent double saying Godamighty Im going to tell the Marengo people your possessed by the devil so theyll burn you alive and I say all right but first I will tell how I saw you at night sticking it in the belly of a Whitch. And then we'll see who they think is possessed and then he said no wait I was just joking and wanted to see if you had the fear of God lets say no more about it come tomorrow and I'll start teaching you to write because reading is one thing that costs nothing you just have to look and move your lips but if you write in a book you need paper and ink and the inkwell that alba pratalia arabat et nigrum semen seminabat because he always spoke Latin and I said to him when you learn to read then you learn everything you didnt know before. But when you write you write only what you know allready so patientia Im better off not knowing how to write because the ass is the ass when I told this to the Alaman gentleman he laughed like a Lunnatic and said Goot Kint those hermits are allesammt Sodomiten but tell me tell me what else you saw in the wood but thinking he was one of those that wanted to take Terdona like the troops of Federicus Imperator I said to myself Id better satisfy him and maybe hell give me another Coin and I told him that two nights before Saint Baudolino had appeared to me and said that the Emperor makes a victory at Terdona because Fridericus was the one and only lord of all Longobardia including Frescheta then the gentleman said you Kint have been sent by Heaven would you like to come to the imperial Camp and say what Saint Baudolino said and I said that if he wanted I would say also that Saint Baudolino said that Saints Peterandpaul would come to the siege and lead the imperial troops and he said Ach wie Wunderbar for me just Peter by himself would be enough Kint come with me and your fortune is made illico or almost illico anyway the next morning that gentleman says to my father that hes going to take me with him to a place where I will learn to read and write and may be Ill become a Ministerial my father Galiaudo didnt know what this meant but he understood that he would be getting rid of one who ate more than he was worth and he wouldnt suffer any more when I went roming. But he thought that may be this gentleman one of those men who go to the fairs and the marketplaces with a Monky and may be he would lay his hands on me and he didnt like that idea but that gentleman said he was a grand comes palatinus and among the Alamans there werent any Sodomiten what are these sodomiten my father asked and I explained theyre kypioni shit he said kypioni are everywhere but when the Gentleman pulled out another five Coins after the two of the night before then he forgot everything and said son go then and maybe this is a piece of luck for you and may be for us too since one way or another these Alamans are always around our partts and this means you can come and see us now and then and I said I swear I will and I was ready to leave but I still felt a lump in my throat because I saw my mother crying like I was going off to die et so we left and the Gentleman told me to take him to where the Castrum of the imperials was and I said thats easy you just follow the sun that is go where it comes from and as we were going and could already see the tents a company of horsemen arrived all decked out and when they see us they fall on their knees and lower their pikes and their banners and raise their swords why what can this be I asked myself and they started yelling Chaiser Kaisar here and Keiser there and Sanctissimus Rex and they kissed that gentlemans hand and my jaw almost fell off because my mouth was open so wide like an oven because it was only then I understood the gentleman with the red beard was the emperor Fridericus in flesh and blood and I had been telling him madeup stories all night like he was any old asshole now he'll have them cut off my head I say to myself but still I cost him VII coins and if hed wanted to cut my head off he would of done it last night gratis et amoredei et he said dont be afraid of anything its all right Im bearing news of a great Vision little puer tell us all the vision you had in the wood and I drop down like I had the falling sickness and my eyes open wide and theres foam on my mouth and I yell I saw I saw and I tell the whole storey of Saint Baudolino who made the prophecy to me and they all praise Dominnus Domine Deus and say Miraculo miraculo gottstehmirbei and with them there were also the messengers of Terdona who hadnt yet decided whether to surrender but when they heard me they lay flat on the ground and said if even the saints were against them then they better surrender because it couldnt go on anyway et then I saw the Derthonesi who were all coming out of the City men women and children et vetuli too and they were crying while the alamans carried them away like they were beeccie that is berbices and sheep everywhere and the people of Pavia who cheered and entered Turtona like lunnatics with faggots and hammers and clubs and picks because tearing a city down to the ground was enough to make them come et towards evening I saw on the hill a great smoke and Terdona or Derthona was just about gone and this is how war is as my father Galiaudo says its an ugly animal war is but better them than us et in the evening the Emperor comes back all happy to the Tabernacula and gives me a slap on the cheek like my father never did and then he calls a gentleman who turned out to be the good canon Rahewinus and tells him he wants me to learn to write and the abacus and even gramar which then I didnt know what it was but now slowly I learn and my father Galiaudo never immagined such a thing what a great thing to be a man of learning and who would ever have thought it gratis agimus domini dominus I mean thanks to the Lord all the same writing a story makes you sweat even in winter also Im afraid because the lamp has gone out and as the man said my thumb akes© 2000 RCS Libri S.p.AEnglish translation copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproducedor transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the workshould be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department,Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Editorial Reviews

PRAISE FOR BAUDOLINOBaudolino, with its richly variegated haul of medieval treasures, remains compulsively readable." - The New York Times Book Review"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?"-The New Yorker"Baudolino manifests many of the exuberant extravagances that made The Name of the Rose so hugely enjoyable." - Iain Pears, Los Angeles Times Book Review "