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Travels In Hyperreality [Paperback]

Umberto Eco
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 2001 0156913216 978-0156913218 Reprint
Eco displays in these essays the same wit, learning, and lively intelligence that delighted readers of The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. His range is wide, and his insights are acute, frequently ironic, and often downright funny. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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From Publishers Weekly

"This uneven collection reflects the Italian scholar's love of the Middle Ages--one essay compares American universities to monasteries, another focuses on Thomas Aquinas--though, for the most part, Eco relentlessly analyzes the present," reported PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This smorgasbord of 26 pieces ultimately focuses on the boundaries of realism as exemplified by the"hyper reality" of American phenomena like the Madonna Inn, wax museums, San Simeon, theme parks, etc. Though his tone is witty, Eco's purpose remains that of the semiologist. He is concerned about "the systems of signs that we use to describe the world and tell it to one another," and aims both to expose the "messages" of political and economic power and of "the entertainment industry and the revolution industry" and to show us how to analyze and criticize them. Though these essays are generally entertaining, they lack the originality and punch of Barthes's Mythologies and seem unlikely to find the same popular success as Eco's own The Name of the Rose . Richard Kuczkowski, Dir., Continuing Education, Dominican Coll., Blauvelt, N.Y.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars on travels in hyperreality April 19 2001
By A Customer
i got this book because of the essay by which it is entitled. it is a great work, and a basic reading for those interested on the topics of hyperreality, simulated or thematized environments, and the like. quite contemporary tho Eco's work is Baudrillard's la precession des simulacres. so they are from the 70's and much more has been written on the topic, but these texts are, as i said, basic to understand all the rest. eco's work is quite openning ranging from xanaduswax museums, the theming of nature, etc. it is worthy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of essays Jan. 22 2004
By Frikle
Many readers will probably be attracted to books like these after reading and enjoying Eco's novels, especially The Name of the Rose and Foucalt's Pendulum. If so, be warned. As I discovered, the Eco of the essay is NOT the Eco of the novels. Both Ecos are eccentric, clever and witty. However, the Eco of essays is a more radical and postmodern thinker. His topics can be seen by some as mundane. He's interested in pop culture and some of his theories are a tad obscure.
This collection is a series of loosely connected essays by Eco. It's an interesting book to read not cover-to-cover but to read an essay once in a while until the book is finished. That way the attitudes can sink in. The biggest fault I found with the book is certain essays to do with semiotics have arguments that are complex and hard to follow. This is understandable as they're taken from more specialised publications whereas in the novels, he strives to bring his ideas to the general public.
The essays I found to be most likeable are Travels in Hyperreality (about the proliferation of wax museums in the US and the general obsession with replicas in society), Reports from the Global Village (a series of essays on media), an analysis of Casablanca and In Praise of St Thomas (Eco's PhD was on Thomas so his views can be seen as fairly authoritative).
A good read but not brilliant.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Amorphous Lump o' Eco March 16 2003
By Arthem
Umberto Eco is clearly a genius - his fictional works testify to that. I assume his reputation as a semiologist is well earned (since I know little about the subject beyond what Walker Percy digested).
Unfortunately, I found "Travels in Hyperreality" to be a hastily pasted collection of observations and commentary that is not really worthy of Eco's growing portfolio. The book was sometimes interesting, but dry and tasteless. I thought the whole lot of it could be encapsulated in Eco's strange observations concerning "the wearing of blue jeans." That is, if you're really, really, really into Eco and want to soak up everything he says, then this book will not disappoint. If, on the other hand, you have limited time on your hands, then Eco's fictional works, or "Search for the Perfect Language," are far better temporal investments.
Perhaps I didn't get it, or perhaps it was a mistake reading much of it in a bar in Santa Clara, but I would assert that this is only a book for the Eco purist.
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By A Customer
With the recent releases of "The Truman Show", "Ed TV" and the like, and Neal Gabler's "Life the Movie" book--and politics in the bedroom and vice-versa, it would not hurt one iota to read and reread semiotician Umberto Eco's "Tales in Hyperreality". Gabler nothwithstanding, there are very few of our thinkers who forcasted that everyday life was fodder for fiction--indeed we use fiction to escape everyday life--and that our fiction should be ultra-real, like The Star Wars/ Star Trek entertainment empires. Eco's background in semiotics perhaps may have made certain passages too heavy-handed for the average joe schmoe like me, but I figure that if I can do it, so can you (underlying what Eco is delineating, anyway, is how we millenium-bound inhabitants in the free capitalist world are so easily bored, and so lazy that we prefer the easy way to exciting entertainment--why, for example, would we go to the hassle of travelling to Washington, DC, to the White House, to see the Oval Office when there's a replica of one somewhere close?). Anyway, I read the book once with difficulty, then I began to get a clearer picture with subsesequent readings. There are hundreds of websites that address the Fantasy is Reality theme, but you know what? This is the work that the current post-modern, post-structuralist theory of the theme has been developed. Many of the websites have that "I am Nostrodamus" feel to them, if you know what I mean. Eco's style, however, is personable and witty, particulary in passages he reminesces about his hometown and some of the old traditions. Also, for those of you who ponder trying to flesh out a Madison Ave. photocopy, read this book. It will have you questioning things for years to come.
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