A posthumous collection of essays by one of our greatest contemporary thinkers that provides a towering vision of Western culture.
In Umberto Eco’s first novel, The Name of the Rose, Nicholas of Morimondo laments, “We no longer have the learning of the ancients, the age of giants is past!” To which the protagonist, William of Baskerville, replies: “We are dwarfs, but dwarfs who stand on the shoulders of those giants, and small though we are, we sometimes manage to see farther on the horizon than they.”
On the Shoulders of Giants is a collection of essays based on lectures Eco famously delivered at the Milanesiana Festival in Milan over the last fifteen years of his life. Previously unpublished, the essays explore themes he returned to again and again in his writing: the roots of Western culture and the origin of language, the nature of beauty and ugliness, the potency of conspiracies, the lure of mysteries, and the imperfections of art. Eco examines the dynamics of creativity and considers how every act of innovation occurs in conversation with a superior ancestor.
In these playful, witty, and breathtakingly erudite essays, we encounter an intellectual who reads comic strips, reflects on Heraclitus, Dante, and Rimbaud, listens to Carla Bruni, and watches Casablanca while thinking about Proust. On the Shoulders of Giants reveals both the humor and the colossal knowledge of a contemporary giant.
Magisterial lectures…Throughout his mature work Eco is on a quest for real meaning, which makes him so relevant for our times…The man proves a rare human spectacle: at once immensely erudite and genuinely humble; aware of his intellectual stature and yet self-deprecating; creator of sophisticated literary and intellectual worlds, and yet a strikingly unpretentious mind.
Eco rearranges and reconstellates his vast learning to address one huge topic after the next…The irreverence and relentless curiosity that drive these lectures [is] charming and bracing.
What makes Eco’s talks fun is his humor, penetrating insights, and truly eclectic examples of topic points. He manages to make you feel that you’re going on an esoteric adventure into secret spaces.
Like a collection of TED talks on philosophy and literary history, these 12 dazzling texts explore grand themes of intellectual curiosity such as beauty, secrecy, the invisible, and the sacred.
Delightful…Eco’s remarks on such broad topics as ‘Beauty’ and ‘Ugliness,’ ‘Some Revelations on Secrecy,’ and ‘Representations of the Sacred’ reveal his astonishingly wide range of interests, encompassing such varied subjects as linguistics and chemistry.
- 336 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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