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The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco , Alastair McEwen

List Price: CDN$ 22.95
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Book Description

Nov. 17 2009
Best-selling author and philosopher Umberto Eco is currently resident at the Louvre, and his chosen theme of study is "the vertigo of lists." Reflecting on this enormous trove of human achievements, in his lyrical intellectual style he has embarked on an investigation of the phenomenon of cataloging and collecting. This book, featuring lavish reproductions of artworks from the Louvre and other world-famous collections, is a philosophical and artistic sequel to Eco’s recent acclaimed books, History of Beauty and On Ugliness, books in which he delved into the psychology, philosophy, history, and art of human forms. Eco is a modern-day Diderot, and here he examines the Western mind’s predilection for list-making and the encyclopedic. His central thesis is that in Western culture a passion for accumulation is recurring: lists of saints, catalogues of plants, collections of art. This impulse has recurred through the ages from music to literature to art. Eco refers to this obsession itself as a "giddiness of lists" but shows how in the right hands it can be a "poetics of catalogues." From medieval reliquaries to Andy Warhol’s compulsive collecting, Umberto Eco reflects in his inimitably inspiring way on how such catalogues mirror the spirit of their times.

Frequently Bought Together

The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay + History of Beauty + On Ugliness
Price For All Three: CDN$ 60.45

  • History of Beauty CDN$ 21.94
  • On Ugliness CDN$ 21.94

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (Nov. 17 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847832961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847832965
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 17.8 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Eco's short and often pithy chapter introductions, the gorgeous displays of exemplary art, and the generous experts from original texts are a tour de force of curation."
ForeWord Magazine

"....a very beautifully produced illustrated volume from Rizzoli, and there’s a positively Millerian moment in it."
National Review

"...a splendidly illustrated monograph, The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay (Rizzoli) ...is, in essence, a tour through art, literature, and music based on the theme of lists, an investigation of the phenomenon of cataloging and collecting. Additionally, Eco maintains that the impulse to accumulate, to collect, is a reoccurring passion in Western culture."
The Morning News

About the Author

Umberto Eco, semiotician at the University of Bologna, is widely known as one of the finest living authors whose best-selling novels include The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, and Baudolino.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grad school revisited Dec 8 2010
By rags of light - Published on Amazon.com
This book, a birthday present, revived the literature I once knew well and have over the years let slip away. As an essay on the function of listing, it is extraordinary; as an anthology of Western literature it is invaluable, as an art book, it is beautiful, but as a review of what was once known and is now almost forgotten, it is priceless. Anyone who thinks great literature is out of date or corny, or thinks the day of real books is over, should hold this book in his or her hands for an hour. Its "weight," both physical and intellectual, makes a "kindle" seem flimsy and as ephemeral as an eight-track.
42 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eco's Latest Literary Trend Nov. 19 2009
By AB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 2007 Bompiani published a similar non-fiction work by Umberto Eco, "Dall'Albero al Labrinto: Studi Storici sul Segno e l'Interpretazione," that investigated the histories of sign and interpretation alongside the history of encyclopedistics. Its aim was to more fully examine organization as a human phenomenon. "The Infinity of Lists," I believe, continues this examination by identifying the nature of lists across time. In short, Eco appears to be following a particular trend with his recent research - one that explores our immense fascination with the organization of content and its many forms.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good text, loosely bound with pictures Oct. 13 2013
By Jose F - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an eclectic and fascinating trip on the meaning of lists in literature history. Eco's wit and interests are present. However, some chapters and excerpts look weakly assembled and superficial. The graphical content is rich, and sometimes outstanding, but has only an illustrative function: the book is about lists in literature. Many pictures are not even cited in the text, but may have some relation with the cited excerpts. It is not as in the volumes of History of Beauty and Ugliness, where pictorial representations where thoroughly discussed. Beware: graphical content has some overlap with "On Ugliness". Book design: beautiful, it may be a nice gift for an Eco's fan.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ECCO AT HIS BEST Jan. 26 2012
By J. craig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lists Jan. 6 2012
By John Seybold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Where do you go to find a list, besides the grocery store...what about lists of animals, real or fictional..the list of innumerous things that you need to know or DON'T need to know about. Better yet, why do we make lists? That is the real question Mr. Eco descends upon.

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