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The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco , Alastair McEwen

List Price: CDN$ 22.95
Price: CDN$ 16.57 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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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.

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Review

"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  14 reviews
52 of 54 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
Format:Hardcover
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.
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
A WONDERFUL COLLECTION OF TRIVIA AND PICTURES TO WANDER THROUGH..THIS IS A GREAT GIFT TO SOMEONE WHO LIKES TO EXPLORE THE FRINGES OF CULTURE..GOOD DENSITY AND A FUN TRIP THROUGH HISTORY..
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to sound really smart... May 8 2013
By Autumnsun - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well, seriously, who doesn't want to sound like a scholar on these reviews? Umberto Eco is some kind of genius. He's that kind of person that you either think of as mysterious or seriously confusing. My camp is right in between the two. Every time I get one of his books, I have a notebook next to me, ready to take notes. Oh and then after the first half of the first chapter, the book goes back into my bookshelf for future moments of egotistical reading.
The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay, confused me at first. From some of the other reviews that I read before ordering this book, I thought it would be a list of some of the best literature along with some pretty pictures. It is. But it's more than that. Like all of Eco's books, there seems to be some hidden message to glean from each painting, picture, pithy bit of writing...and there probably is. But that's why we buy his books. We know that he writes them, or puts them together to challenge our minds; to challenge our understanding of the world that we live in.
In short, I've read this book, but boy do I have to do that a few more times to really get all of it, and that's something I look forward to. In a few years.
2 of 3 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.
ARRAY(0xb6af68b8)

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