The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco

the mysterious flameAmnesia is never a good thing to begin with. Especially losing your episode memory. Giambattista Bodoni couldn’t remember anything. Who his name was, who his wife was, who he was, everything was erased. He felt like he was floating in fog, and he couldn’t find his way out. It may be your usual amnesia story, except that Yambo (that is what everyone calls him, and I will continue to refer to him as Yambo as typingΒ Giambattista is much more complicated) remembered passages for almost every book that he has read before in his life.

It’s funny because this book alludes to so many books that I’ve read before. I nearly laughed out loud when I came across Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Moby Dick‘s famous opening line in the book. Of course, since I’ve only started reading heavy literature three years ago, I don’t get all of the jokes inside this book.

This story is just more than a bunch of quotes and a guy with amnesia mashed together. No, the quotes and references to other stories does not make up half the book and the guy just running around everywhere clueless. Umberto Eco is the author of the The Name of the Rose, so obviously, this story is one of quality. Β Not full of ‘literature inside jokes’…. Well, I’m kidding. It’s full of ‘literature inside jokes.’ If you don’t read a lot, you won’t get half the things that is in the book πŸ™‚

So Yambo here, with his amnesia, as I repeated feels like some guy who just stumbled into Wonderland. (Now does anyone get this inside joke? Course you do. They have at least three movies based of this book.) He had a wife. A psychologist as a wife. He had two daughters, and surprise, surprise! He had grandchildren. Now his reaction was one of your typical memes you find in Twitter and Instagram. But it’s funnier. You can feel that inside. He’s just staring at his wife and trying to recognize who she was, but what came out is a bunch of passages from The Three Musketeers. Good job, Yambo.

After being reacquainted with his wife and understanding how she came to be his wife, he was up for the next big shock in his life. It’s a wonder he haven’t had another stroke and went through another amnesia. (But this time, he forgot everything.) Β Next surprise. He had an affair! Not with his neighbor, not with his old longtime childhood friend. No, Yambo apparently had an affair with a woman who worked alongside with him.

Now dear readers, you might be asking. What kind of work does Yambo do? Does he have a degree in literature? Does he study literature? No, no. Yambo collects books and resells them. And his lovely assistant helps him sell those books. She claims to have ‘learnt a lot from him.’ Makes me wonder exactly what.Β 

But the matter ended itself. She married. So listen, if you have an affair and you think it’s wrong, just hope that they get amnesia. It’s the kindest thing to do. It’s like a switch button spelling out ‘reset’. Or maybe the next kindest thing is pretend they owe you $100. That should make them cough the money up pretty quickly.

Now. Yambo here is confused. So, so confused. What is happening? Why do people know more about his life than himself? And then something triggered his memory. Yes. It takes the form of Clarabelle cow in a very old comic titled Clarabelle’s Treasure. Don’t know who Clarabelle is? Okay, remember Minnie Mouse? (Course you do) Remember that completely irrelevant cow who is his friend? Yeah, that’s the one. It’s not that I hate Clarabelle. She just has no personality.

That memory triggered him about a tree! In his childhood! So with his wife’s urging, he went back to his homeland. Solara. And there he found jackpot. Nope, not his memory and not money either. He just found a ton of books. And he spend the next second-half of your book reading and studying and trying to get an idea on his childhood. But it triggered nothing. Just your typical tiny useless things that you don’t need and probably isn’t relevant anymore. Good luck next time, Yambo.

So the next thing that our hero tried to do was dig around his grandfather’s study. And he finally found it! An original copy of his first folio of 1623. He was so shocked, he thought that he was having another stroke. And then suddenly, images of his life was flashing past him! He was getting his memory back!

But then it’s going all too fast. And now suddenly all he wanted to know about was that girl. Yes, another girl. Not his wife and not his pretty assistant. It’s the girl that he had fallen in love with when he was a student. The same girl where he would sacrifice anything and everything. He remembered trying to gain her attention in a number of different ways. He remembered her moving out and never being seen again. But he didn’t remember her face.

How.

Convenient.

I’m starting to hate amnesiac people. It’s like dealing with a gigantic baby.

But then, the book is good. So good, I recommend you guys to read it. And read The Name of the Rose too. It’s an amazing crime novel.

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