Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Literature

(Translated by Martin McLaughlin.)
Harcourt, 2004, ISBN: 0-15-100812-4; Hardcover $26.00.

As the title suggests, this work is a collection of essays and lectures on the topic of literature. The book will be published in December 2004, after which Porta Ludovica will review the work more fully. The publisher’s description:

In this collection of essays and addresses delivered over the course of his illustrious career, Umberto Eco seeks “to understand the chemistry of [his] passion” for the word. From musings on Ptolemy and “the force of the false” to reflections on the experimental writing of Borges and Joyce, Eco’s luminous intelligence and encyclopedic knowledge are on dazzling display throughout. And when he reveals his own ambitions and superstitions, his authorial anxieties and fears, one feels like a secret sharer in the garden of literature to which he so often alludes. Remarkably accessible and unfailingly stimulating, this collection exhibits the diversity of interests and the depth of knowledge that have made Eco one of the world’s leading writers.

The table of contents provides a good summary of the topics addressed:

On Some Functions of Literature
A Reading of the Paradiso
On the Style of The Communist Manifesto
The Mists of Valois
Wilde: Paradox and Aphorism
A Portrait of the Artist as Bachelor
Between La Mancha and Babel
Borges and My Anxiety of Influence
On Camporesi: Blood, Body, Life
On Symbolism
On Style
Les Sémaphores sous la Pluie
The Flaws in the Form
Intertextual Irony and Levels of Reading
The Poetics and Us
American Myth in Three Anti-American Generations
The Power of Falsehood
How I Write

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