|About the Book|
I cant count the times Ive tried to write a review of an Eco-book, whether physically or in my head, then decided to drop it.Where does one start? How does one review a product of an intellect such as Ecos, a scholar in semiotics, history and god knows what else? Many reviews Ive read here on The Island Of The Day Before are just plain moronic - outbursts of frustration because someone expected to grasp the contexts and countless themes it covers as easily as an airport-bestseller. I have a theory that some people that like to think they know a couple of things just dont like to feel stupid, and its true- most of Ecos books are overwhelming in their breadth and references for a reader, so much so that one ends up feeling quite stupid.But heres my point: Eco is firstly concerned with the polysemic and numerous ways in which meaning is created and interpreted, the history and epystemology of meaning, to be exact. To be able to understand the centennial intertextuality of language, symbols and meaning requires an intellect far greater than Eco or anyone else for that matter. Im also pretty sure that Eco would facepalm himself if people assumed they could extract every meaning out his books by reading them once. Of all the authors and books out there, his are truly deserving of the cliche that the books need to be read several times to be understood.Ecos confidence and playfulness is what makes this book my absolute favorite. The subject, the mystery of latitude, is such a spot-on subject, and the great tapestry of references from his chosen era, the 17th century, he uses to weave this incredible story - not only in literature, but theology, astronomy, philosophy, history and science - come together in a story that is ultimately about a period of time where the paradigms of the church were cracking up, and the monopoly of truth and meaning was being heavily challenged by science.Eco manages to capture the mind of a young nobleman who is curious about the workings of the world and the universe, and so also the Zeitgeist of 17th century Europe: the volatility, the naivete, the wonder and the absurdity. If there ever was a point in history where the act of interpreting the world was so dynamic, it was here.He also channels a wide range of literary references, from Defoe to (obviously) Borges.In my mind, the trick to understanding how to approach Eco is like how to approach Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino makes meta-movies, i.e. films about cinema, Eco writes books about literature (and so much more!) Eco is an authors author, and with the help of his long-time collaborator and translator, William Weaver, his writing carries literary greatness in them.If youre just after a story, then go for something more formulaic, and steer clear.