Secret societies penetrated literature
Fortunately or unfortunately, the mysterious group plays a behind-the-scenes game to change the course of human history. Maybe even a few groups – allies or eternal adversaries. Maybe in the very beginning such organizations were ordinary, or maybe they were unusual in something. It does not matter what they are, but most likely you have already met them in films, series, comics or novels. Secret societies are an integral part of certain types of mass literature – they either determine the origin of the protagonist, or act as his omnipresent evil enemy. It is very important to feel that anyone can be a member of such an organization, and its sphere of influence is infinitely large. If members of a secret society always gather in a popular picnic spot, it means that they do not succeed in secret activities. There is something in continuous, consistent form that suits these organizations so well. Over time, the authors begin to gradually add small details to the image of the formidable secret organ: here and there hints are scattered about how many participants he has, how far his arms extend and what means he uses to influence the whole world. Repeating the fate of many other techniques characteristic of fiction, secret societies gradually began to appear more and more often among authors of more serious literature. In Charles Palliser Quincanks’s novel, so voluminous that it can become a murder weapon, there is a Dickens story, the origin of the protagonist is shrouded in mystery and questions of class differences and upbringing are raised, but it also has a widely ramified secret organization that lures the protagonist into its networks and creates throughout the whole narrative an oppressive atmosphere of paranoia. As a result, both the reader and, finally, the main character begin to question the motives, honesty, and the very characters of the other characters. This is a terrific book that manages to arouse a sense of threat from a huge group of conspirators, leaving maimed destinies in their path. * * * * In literature, a turning point for secret organizations came around the end of the 1980s. Foucault’s pendulum, written by Umberto Eco in 1988, has become a novel that simultaneously ridicules how secret societies can take hold of our minds, and which, by and large, consists of a variety of mass-media techniques based on the attractiveness of secret societies. The underlying idea is very simple: three intellectuals come up with an image of a huge and omnipotent secret organization that arose simultaneously with a person, but they soon realize that their theory is much more true than they could imagine. In parallel, the history of various secret societies, including the Templar Order, is told, analyzed and investigated. At the beginning of the book there are several word games in which the games of the French association of writers and mathematicians ULIPO (mentioned by Eco in his novel) are easily guessed. In this and in some other cases, Eco compares literary societies and underground groups, which are central to the novel. In-depth study of the subject, research work and networking are the things that literary critics do, however, researchers of secret societies and members of such societies do the same. Eco’s novel has a number of claims of intellectuality, ranging from a satirical secondary storyline that unfolds in an Italian publishing house that publishes books with the money of authors, and ends with the name of the main character (Cazobon), who also bears one of the central characters of Middlemarch George Eliot. Moreover, there are many elements more characteristic of fiction, including the mention of Cthulhu myths at the end of the book, the question of the possible immortality of Assistant Casobon and the possible harm to conspiracy theories (literally). However, the novel has a lot of sobering moments: the story begins in 1970, and the heroes try to cope with both the political unrest of this period and the consequences of fascism in Italy, which are still felt quite strongly. Heroes encounter various conspiracy theories and secret societies, among which there are ultra-right and anti-Semitic, and although Eco gives the reader the opportunity to feel the charm and rapid movement of the novel, he also recalls that faith in the existence of secret societies pulling strings can lead to disastrous consequences . * * * * If serious reflections on political ideology can be found between the lines of The Foucault Pendulum, then what profound meaning can be found in Manuel González’s latest novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! ? At first glance, this is a novel read in one breath about the conflict between two heroes, which we learn about from the title of the novel, without even turning the first page. A regional office is a mysterious organization operating around the world that sends teams of assassins.