He travels with Garibaldi as the general defeats the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and unifies Italy.
He forges the document that implicated Dreyfus in the famous affair.
Umberto Eco interleaves European history with Simonini’s exploits and integrates the Freemasons, the Jesuits, and the Jews in multiple conspiracies against each other. Political maneuverings that Machiavelli would applaud. But it is in manipulating the text into a multi-level narrative that Eco shows his genius.
But his masterpiece is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Umberto Eco interleaves European history with Simonini’s exploits.
At the first level are Simonini’s forged documents, including the letter Dreyfus wanted to send to the Germans and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which the protagonist knows to be fake and which we the readers believe to be so. At the second level are Simonini’s journal entries—including the fake Dalla Piccola’s writings—which our protagonist believes to be true (the diary describing how he had forged them) and which we the readers know is fiction (Eco’s novel) but aren’t sure whether our hero accurately recorded his exploits. At the third level are the Narrator’s comments throughout the novel to complement the diary and fill in the missing events, as a record of Simonini’s exploits. We the readers don’t know who the Narrator is and can only trust his/her account. But in the section “Useless Learned Explanations” the Narrator outlines the novel and reveals that all the characters beside Simonini are real people. And he/she even provides notes that reveal Hitler read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. At first, we the readers might believe these to be the author’s notes, but then we realize the Narrator is commenting on these events (Simonini’s narrative) as a historian and the comments are part of the novel.
Political maneuverings that Machiavelli would applaud.
A truly postmodern narrative, in the spirit of Jorge Luis Borges’s Ficciones, where each layer of narrative comments on a lower one until the reader questions the boundary between fact and fiction.
A truly postmodern narrative.