By Umberto Eco
Voilà un nouvel opus de poids livré par Umberto Eco. Plus de vingt ans après Le Nom de los angeles rose, bâti comme une cathédrale, le toujours sémillant sémiologue offre un portrait puisé dans le bas Moyen Âge. Baudolino est né au milieu du XIIe siècle à Alexandrie, dans le Piémont, entre les montagnes du Nord et l. a. mer, dans le fourrages des animaux. À peine adolescent, il est acheté à son père paysan par l'empereur Frédéric. Et de faire de sa vie un destin. Avec l'empereur en père adoptif, il va parcourir le monde, les cours, les champs de bataille entre l'orient et l'occident, découvrir les intrigues politiques et amoureuses. Malin, espiègle et séduisant bougre, férocement cultivé, fin bavard, il est surtout un affabulateur insatiable qui manipule à l'envi et à son gré un empereur affable, toujours weak de prendre des vessies pour des lanternes.
Rien de moins qu'une bold et réjouissante fresque, menée entre un confesseur (Baudolino, héros narrateur) et un convinced (Nicétas, un vieux sage, prétexte au récit) ; l'un jamais à courtroom d'anecdotes, de revers croustillants, l'autre rarement avare de ponctuations philosophiques. Dense, chargé, très chargé, Baudolino est nourri de détails, de tableaux pittoresques dans une fiction rocambolesque extirpée de l'Histoire.
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Additional info for Baudolino
Oxford, Bodley MS 614, fol. 26v. c. 1120-40. Reprinted with permission of The Bodleian Library, Oxford. "23 Although endangered, Andromeda exerts a powerful agency in her gaze, as though by directly staring at the monster she forcefully holds the predatory beast at bay. Perseus's chivalric rescue further situates the monster as a rival for the possession of Andromeda; Perseus's performance is the topic of the glose on this image, which states explicitly that the good knight should imitate his action.
Chapter 45 on Pasiphae' exemplifies how the text-image relationships of the Othea deploy the outlaw gaze to subvert cultural assumptions about female sexuality. The received narrative of Pasiphae explicitly presents her story of bestiality and desire as one of sexual transgression: to satisfy her desire for a handsome bull she commissions the craftsman Daedalus to construct a hollow wooden heifer as her disguise to attract the bull's attentions. The Minotaur, a half-human, half-bull, results from this union.
This representation stands in strong contrast to the episode from this narrative selected for visualization in Roman painting, as exemplified by the Odyssey frieze. Here Circe opens the gate of her palace to welcome Odysseus, then pleads for her life after he fails to succumb to her magic potion and exposes her stratagem. Even in its setting, the interior of Circe's palace, the Odyssey painting implies Circe's penetration by the male power visibly signaled in Odysseus's drawn sword. : Bard College, 1992), 77-94 and fig.