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The Book of Legendary Lands Hardcover – Nov 5 2013

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The Book of Legendary Lands + From the Tree to the Labyrinth: Historical Studies on the Sign and Interpretation + The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli Ex Libris (Nov. 5 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847841219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847841219
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 3.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Umberto Eco takes us on a wonderful illustrated journey through the lands of myth and invention, showing us their inhabitants, the passions that move them, their heroes and antagonists, and, most of all, the importance they hold for us. Eco explores the enduring human need to seek refuge in the beautiful places of literature and folklore, examing along the way both epic poets and contemporary storytellers who have drawn--and stretched--the boundaries of our emotions, dreams, worries, and ideals." -i-ItalyNY Magazine

"A book for people who, as children, pored gleefully over the maps of Oz and Earthsea, an atlas of the most surreal and fabulous imaginary places you've never been." -SFGate

About the Author

Umberto Eco is a world-renowned writer of fiction, essays, and academic treatises. Among his best-selling novels are The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, and The Prague Cemetery.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis M. Reeve on Dec 16 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This gorgeous book, alive with Eco's characteristic wit and depth of learning, obscures the boundaries between fact and fiction, imagination and "reality." For Eco, "the possible world of narrative is the only universe in which we can be absolutely certain about something. " For instance, "one absolute truth is the fact that Superman is Clark Kent. All the rest is always open to debate."

Delightfully and deliberately self-indulgent, Eco makes no attempt to hide his preferences and prejudices. He likes Dante and Robert Louis Stevenson and detests Dan Brown, but he does have good reasons, and his explanations are fascinating, informative, and fun.

The illustrations, from high art to comic books, are lovingly chosen and beautifully reproduced.
Altogether, a treasure of a book.

All the more disappointing then to find so many typographical errors. The book, the author, and all the books and authors of whom he writes, deserve better proofreading.
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By Dan Earle on April 10 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book but not light reading. The basic pattern is a general overview of a legendary land, Atlantis would be one most people have encountered, but there are many more. The general overview is followed by documentary text examples that lead to the overview. There are also beautiful maps and illustrations of these legendary lands and in many cases, the legendary people and creatures who inhabited them. If you love history, maps, imagination, science fiction, exploration and whimsey you will love this book. It is beautifully put together on high quality glossy paper.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have already several of his books regarding various themes (beauty, ugliness, lists - in the arts), and they are getting better and better.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Caution: Genius at work! Nov. 15 2013
By Tom Burkert - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish Eco's books had indexes....they are so rich with information and ideas that this would allow us to find things we vaguely remember so much faster. With that minor fault out of the way, I have to say that I LOVE this book. It treats a topic I've always had an interest in...and does it with sumptuous illustrations. I have several of his other books...including the Book of Lists and On Beauty and On Ugliness.....If I could have one famous person over for dinner, I think Umberto would be the one I'd invite!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another fantastic contribution Nov. 20 2013
By trevornewland - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Eco has another fascinating mix of his own ideas, texts from antiquity, and well-chosen illustrations. Great humour just below the surface from time to time as well.
Seeing his knowledge of sources also explains how, for example, he creates believable and bizarre fictional worlds as well, such as that of Baudolino.
Another great book.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful, inspiring and also sophisticated book! Nov. 27 2013
By Thorwald Franke - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Umberto Eco managed to write a book which is fully equal to similar already existing works such as "The Atlas of Legendary Lands" or "Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms". Very convincing the selection of images: There are several we did not know, yet. From an aesthetic point of view a really beautiful book! And very convincing, too, the textual elaboration.

On the basis of Atlantis for example we see clearly that Umberto Eco did not just copy what others repeated already a thousand times. Rather did Umberto Eco find even in this controversial issue his own convincing path.

In detail on this example: For Eco, the history of the various Atlantis localizations is not - as so often - a menacing climax with National Socialism as culmination (wagging forefinger!). It is rather a journey through history with National Socialism as one stop of several. Olof Rudbeck, too, is no crackpot "baroque Nazi" for Eco but a serious baroque scholar, who just erred. Someone like Umberto Eco knows how to place these things properly, of course. In the video for the book the connection of Hyperborea (astonishingly not: Atlantis) to the Holocaust is drawn too closely: as if someone who reads and thinks about the ancient Hyperborea (resp. Atlantis) would become a National Socialist ... well, it is only the video, therefore let's forget it.

Let us leave the vexed and vain NS topic and come to Atlantis itself: Already in his "Foucault's Pendulum" Eco was pleasently reserved concerning Atlantis - this applies here, too. The Atlantis map of the baroque scholar Athanasius Kircher is called correctly a map of the "site" of Atlantis, not as a map which allegedly displays the exact shape of Atlantis. Also does Umberto Eco not repeat the terrible tale that Aristotle allegedly considered Plato's Atlantis explicitly to be an invention (cf. on the clarification of this common misconception: Franke: Aristotle and Atlantis, 2012). Also much more learned than the usual nonsense is Eco's opinion that assertions of the truth of a story since Lucian's "True History" sound like an indicator for a fictional story - this is well said: Since Lucian, but not yet in Plato's time!


As we can see with the Atlantis example, real quality is offered to the reader! This is not just a copy-paste collage labelled with "Umberto Eco", but this is really the polymath Umberto Eco himself who presents to the great pleasure of the reader the colourful variety of his knowledge about various legendary places in word and picture.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellence in a trove of imaginary geographic treasure! Feb. 16 2014
By Dr. M.C. Armantrout - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eco excites the senses with this world survey or legends and dreams of other worlds found in literature and sacred texts.
Humans have imagined the world in terms of fantasies beyond the sounds and sights we encounter. The glories of perfection and the horrors of damnation are recreated in the literature of all cultures. To name the location of these legends, ideas, and associations presents a remarkable understanding of their importance and influence on beliefs and actions of people. The Book of Legendary Lands serves as an excellent tool for readers of history,philosophy, art, religion, and geography. Practitioners of psychology, sociology, and all religions may also gain an understanding of the human mind and society. Of particular interest is the constancy of dystopia in so many cultures, and how humans construct ideas of the damned to perpetuate--- or challenge evil. The visual adventure of woodcuts, paintings, architecture, and maps empower the reader to comprehend the fantasies and ideals perpetuated in legends.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Legendary? It's part of the world history Jan. 12 2014
By Musil - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Outstanding account of what humankind believed or longed about gods, kings, pleasures, punishments. Who is aware of Cockaine land, where pigs fly, already roasted and with a knife on their back, just to make it easy to dine?