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On Literature

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After the opening essay on the general significance of literature, Eco examines a number of major authors from the Western canon. A stimulating chapter on the poetic qualities of Dante's Paradiso is followed by one on the style of the Communist Manifesto. The next three essays centre on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature: one on the French writer Nerval's masterpiece, Sylvie (a major influence on Eco and a novella that he translated into Italian), one on Oscar Wilde's love of paradox, and one on Joyce's views on language. The last three pieces deal with the road that leads from Cervantes via Swift to Borges' Library of Babel, then an essay on Eco's own anxiety about Borges' influence on him, and the volume ends with an article on the enigmatic Italian critic and anthropologist Piero Camporesi. On Literature is a provocative and entertaining collection of sprightly essays on the key texts that have shaped Eco the novelist and critic. This volume will appeal to anyone interested in how new light is shed on old masters by a great contemporary mind.
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'A man of robust intellect and genuine erudition...Eco sparkles' - Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Umberto Eco (1932-2016) wrote fiction, literary criticism and philosophy. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was a major international bestseller. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, The Prague Cemetery and Numero Zero along with many brilliant collections of essays.


Like Dirda, Eco the semiotics professor who launched his career as a novelist with the phenomenal best seller The Name of the Rose gets to talk about writers he loves, e.g., Ptolemy, Borges, and Joyce. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Appropriately rich and chaotic" * Sunday Times * "His most personal book so far...this book speaks loudly and persuasively of the redemptive properties of good writing. This book is both a large statement about literary aesthetics and the elliptical spiritual autobiography of a major novelist. Eco writes with characteristic intelligence, clarity, enthusiasm and charm. He seems incapable of writing a dull paragraph, or a wrong-headed one" * Scotland on Sunday * "An exciting, ecstatic work of criticism" * Guardian * "A good deal of intellectual athleticism on display... Eco is a scintillating lecturer, and an elegant journalist... At his most mercurial" * Independent * "On Literature is a provocative and entertaining collection of sprightly essays on the key texts that have shaped Eco the novelist and critic" * The Book People *

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