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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

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3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,099 Ratings  ·  697 Reviews
Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer who lives in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory-he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home some ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 5th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienUlysses by James JoyceMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleHoly Bible by Anonymous
The Most Begun "Read but Unfinished" (Initiated) book ever
262nd out of 1,843 books — 10,558 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoFoucault's Pendulum by Umberto EcoBaudolino by Umberto EcoThe Island of the Day Before by Umberto EcoThe Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
5th out of 14 books — 36 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Leore Joanne Green
I expected a lot from this book when I bought it, and I have to say that I was quite dissappointed.

I liked the lead character a lot, and the offset for the plot was excellent, but it seemed to me that he (Eco)didn't play around enough with all the possibilities which his character's situation allowed.
At Solara, the idea of trying to recover his history by surrounding himself with his childhood things was very appealing to me, but at some point I got sick of rummaging through old vinyl discs and
...more
Sara
Aug 22, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana tells of an antiquarian book dealer who has suffered a stroke and lost all memory of the people in and events of his life. At the novel's outset, the protagonist, Yambo, begins the daunting work of trying to reinsert himself into the life he has forgotten. He finds that he does not recognize his family or closest friends, but can still appraise a 17th-century work of natural history. His only sparks of memory relate to books he has read. These come back to him ...more
April
Nov 30, 2007 April rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read every 449 pages of this book... and feel like I wasted a lot of time. This book needs SO MUCH editing. The premise and some of the ideas presented had great potential for a very interesting story, however it fails in almost every way. There is no characterization, the story barely moves from page 1 to page 449, and there are many story lines which are left unfinished. 90% of the book is tedious description of dated material such as books, records, photographs, etc. which are suppose to ev ...more
Lavina
Apr 15, 2007 Lavina rated it it was ok
I was about 150 pages into the book when I started feeling the way you feel when you're looking through stacks of photo albums with someone you don't really know, who's telling you very detailed stories about people you've never met and places you've never been -- people and places to whom you have no connection.

In the end, the concept of the book (which is what drew me to it in the first place) was what made it weak. People are interesting because of their experiences, their memories of them, t
...more
Kate
Jul 28, 2007 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meta, own-currently
This book really disappointed in the end, after giving a fairly fascinating glimpse of the culture of an Italian childhood under Fascism. I was enjoying the plot and then suddenly it ends in this inexplicable way, as if Eco suddenly got horribly sick of writing the thing. I'm keeping it for the gorgeous color reproductions.
Guy
Feb 09, 2012 Guy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: multiple-reads
The beauty and richness of Eco's language is as good as it gets in this book. Every sentence was a work of verbal art. The language sang, to me. I was awed by its power. Truly a great novel.

Example:
This man, a failure since birth, not only reads, he also writes. I could write, too, could add my own monsters to those that scuttle with their ragged claws across the silent sea floors. That man ruins his eyes over pages on which he sets down his obsessions in muddy ink from inkwells whose bottoms ar
...more
Noce
Jun 03, 2014 Noce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-in-italy
L'Eco dei ricordi

Quando lessi questo libro una decina di anni fa, mi affidai a una visione panoramica dell’insieme. E mi piacque. Riletto adesso, e aggrappandomi a una visione panoramica dell’insieme, mi piace.

Dare lo stesso giudizio a un libro, a distanza di dieci anni, è quasi sconfortante per un lettore medio forte, convinto di evolversi continuamente in una maturità letteraria che va di pari passo con le sue letture. Se non fosse, che in questo caso, riesco a percepire quei dettagli per cui
...more
Sonia Gomes
Jun 29, 2014 Sonia Gomes rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Persons who like books about Second World War
Recommended to Sonia by: Got it from a Library
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Author: Umberto Eco
Translator: Geoffrey Brock

It has a been a long time since I have read “The Name of the Rose’ it is one of the most fascinating books. Since then the Catholic Church and its politics have intrigued me. So when I got ‘The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana’ I was thrilled, would it be like 'The Name of the Rose’ so beautiful, so intriguing?
No it wasn't, or was I missing something.
The reviews that I read mention it as deep, a profound meditation,
...more
Samantha
Dec 19, 2007 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: love-it
This is the first book that I did not completely mangle in my comings and goings from work. The pages are still crisp and the cover has not fallen off. I consider this an accomplishment, because for me, the sign of a good book is one that is beaten up and dog-eared. I LOVED this novel. It is the first Umberto Eco book that I have read and it was a delight to read.
The main character, a very loveable Italian gentleman named Yambo awakens from a stroke to find that his personal memory bank has been
...more
Sarah Archer-beck
Apr 08, 2008 Sarah Archer-beck rated it liked it
I'll admit that I was initially drawn to this book because of the great pictures - reproductions of pop culture media from the 30s and 40s. I have liked previous books by Eco as much for their interesting plots as for their philosophical ruminations. Unfortunately, this book was really short on an interesting story line and seemed to be purely a vehicle for Eco to riff on the themes of memory, identity, childhood in wartime Italy, and whatever else occurred to him.

The first section of the book,
...more
Yani
Dec 18, 2013 Yani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: interesados en la Segunda Guerra Mundial a quienes no les importen los spoilers
Tengo opiniones encontradas con respecto a este libro. Por un lado, me encantó. Por el otro, me produjo incomodidad. Había leído una entrevista en donde Eco afirma que esta es su novela menos erudita, pero a medida que iba pasando las páginas, lo único que veía era una admirable complejidad (que siempre se agradece, como suelo decir). Por ende, dejé de creerle.

La misteriosa llama de la reina Loana tiene como protagonista a Yambo, un hombre que pierde la memoria pero conserva un conocimiento en
...more
Marius van Blerck
May 17, 2009 Marius van Blerck rated it really liked it
After a recent diet of rather good thrillers and mysteries, I decided to try Umberto Eco’s most recent book, for a change of pace. A change it most definitely was – the pace of Queen Loana is decidedly slow (occasionally practically coming to a standstill), the tale intriguing, the atmosphere foggy and the concepts challenging. I "read" the audiobook and George Guidall (whom I will always associate with the narration of "Crime and Punishment") narrates this work in exactly the right manner. I ca ...more
carynn
May 20, 2007 carynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007, didntlike
I was so disappointed, just kept reading because I thought it had to somehow be fantastic (I absolutely loved name of the rose) but actually got worse. I loved the initial concept of a man who can suddenly only remember all the books that he has read, and all the graphics were really interesting, but for me it just fell flat. The story wasn’t enough and I didn’t particularly enjoy the writing either.
Spotsalots
Oct 12, 2014 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction
One of the few books read in the last 25 years that has earned a place on my list of all-time favorites. Such a rich exploration of memory and our relationship to our own past, via the story of an older (but not yet elderly) rare-book dealer who loses and gradually regains his memory of his life.

Memory has always been an important theme for me; likewise, the ways in which our childhood and young-adult experiences shape us. This book is itself bound up in memories for me. I bought it in Prague an
...more
Dan
Aug 06, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Mann
Jan 05, 2009 Melissa Mann rated it really liked it
I rounded up 3.5 stars...

As a translator, I am confident in stating the problem with translation is translation. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is meant to be read in its original and by those who truly appreciate pop culture and memories thereof. The words are well translated into English; the ideas are adapted properly to English; the strain lies in this: Latin-based language speakers culturally use five sentences where an English-speaker would use one. Normally, this is not a problem; we
...more
Justin
Aug 12, 2011 Justin rated it really liked it
A tender, nostalgic, and at times painful account of an amnesiac old bookseller's attempt to recover his life's memories, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana reads as though it could quite possibly be Eco's own memoir. Certainly, details have been changed to protect the innocent--our protagonist Yambo did his dissertation on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, while Eco did his on aesthetics in the Middle Ages, for example--but these are mere cosmetic details. Eco is at an age now where he can clearl ...more
Rick Davis
Aug 10, 2013 Rick Davis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
This was not as engrossing as The Name of the Rose and not as complex as Foucault's Pendulum, but The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana hit me harder and at a more personal level than Eco's other books. The theme is nostalgia and personal identity. Through Yambo's amnesia, Eco explores the way in which we construct our identities through scraps from our past: what books we've read, movies we've seen, music we've heard, experiences we've had. It also shows that what we choose to forget and how we c ...more
Jean Tessier
Oct 02, 2011 Jean Tessier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure
My other favorite author. Usually not an easy read, but you end up less stupid for it.

The main character lost his memory and relives his childhood by examining the litterature he was reading as a child in fascist Italy: comic books, translated novels, fascist propaganda. It is a very good look at a fascinating world. Later, when the main character regains his memory, he takes stock of his life and looks at how his life was shaped by patterns and events in his youth and teenage years.

I was a litt
...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sixty-year old rare book dealer Yampo wakes up in a hospital in Milan after a stroke with only one aftereffect a complete loss of his personal memory. He can remember every line of every book he ever read, but does not know who he is, who his wife and children are, what he looks like, what he feels like (he has no memory of what his skin feels like) in short, his whole personality is gone.[return][return]What follows is a journey for Yampo into recovering his past. The process of recovering his ...more
Dimitri
Jun 14, 2007 Dimitri rated it liked it
Umberto Eco is always prone to uncontrollable wordiness but the reader is usually compensated by the fascinated plot, complex characters, and general atmoshpere of his books. It is also generally the case that when Eco goes off in a tangent, it is to show off his knowledge in history and symbolism which personally I find interesting.

This books is an exception. It preserves the charactistic verbosity of the author bu the plot fails to become gripping or evolve in any significant direction. Also t
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 24, 2007 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
A bookseller wakes from a coma with no memory of his life, and the only frame of reference he has for any conversations are direct quotations from books he has read. He journeys to the home he used to spend summers in to try to uncover the truth about his past.

While an interesting premise, this book has major tedious moments. Anyone with an interest in obscure Italian fascist literature should read this. He includes entire songs, book covers, and comic books that the main character encountered a
...more
Christopher Bennett
Aug 28, 2007 Christopher Bennett rated it it was ok
First of all, I like Umberto, and I think he's an intellectual superstar.
But I don't think he's a great novelist, and this book is why. This book was trying to swallow an enormous amount of philosophical pondering that is only barely sugar-coated by narrative. Really hard to take in, worst was the 50 pages of random literary and philosophical associations littering the beginning of the book.
The only reason this gets 2 stars is I liked all the historical anecdotes from Italy in the 40's and 50's
...more
Алена Tалапіла
Я дачытала гэтую кнігу з другой спробы. Першы раз ледзьве прачытала старонак дваццаць, другі раз - праглынула за два дні.

Самае важнае для мяне ў гэтай кнізе - дзяцінства героя ў фашысцкай Італіі, настойлівыя пытанні: я верыў у прапаганду? я любіў дучэ? у што верыла мая сям'я? І мне цікава было разам з героем разблытваць гэты клубок.

Дзякуючы гэтай "мемуарнай" частцы я і стаўлю чатыры зоркі, нягледзячы на псіхадэлічны фінал.
Stavroula
Μ'άρεσε, αλλά νομίζω ότι θα το συνιστούσα μόνο σε συγκεκριμένο κοινό. Σε λάτρεις του βιβλίου (ως αντικειμένου μελέτης και συλλογής) κυρίως.
Yehia Nasser
Jun 14, 2015 Yehia Nasser rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
death, when people like living so much, and one fine day death comes and carries them off, rich and poor alike, even babies? Have you ever heard anyone talk about the death of the universe? I read and I know: the universe, I mean the whole thing, the stars, the sun, the Milky Way, is like an electric battery that runs and runs, but all the while it’s running down, and one day it will run out. End of the universe. The Evil of evils is that the universe itself has been condemned to death. Since bi ...more
Anas Elgaud
Feb 07, 2014 Anas Elgaud rated it really liked it
If you're interested in getting a grasp on how the Fascists, or any political ideology based on repression like any other ideology, had handled public opinion, in an atmosphere of a novel that is completely dazzling because you watch the character being reborn and reliving his childhood through the dust and rummaging in the house of Solara and climbing up and down the gorge and every possible comic book he'd lay hands on. Yambo in this novel is a multidimensional characters who made more of his ...more
Ron
Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it it was ok
Eco's warmest and most accessible novel is also maddeningly impenetrable on a certain level. It is a thinly veiled literary autobiography couched as an amnesiac's mystery, but what could have been a fascinating tale of memory and its construction is undercut by a ceaseless nostalgia for cultural artifacts that only Eco himself could fully appreciate. Most readers will not connect with anything that he references until the protagonist explores the 1950s paper trail of his past, and what little he ...more
Ioannis Savvas
Feb 13, 2013 Ioannis Savvas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ο Τζιανμπατίστα Μποντόνι (χαϊδευτικά Γιάμπο) είναι ένας εξηντάχρονος έμπορος παλιών βιβλίων. Ύστερα από ένα εγκεφαλικό παθαίνει αμνησία και προσπαθεί να ξαναβρεί τη ζωή του μέσα από βιβλία, δίσκους και κόμικς. Το δεύτερο εγκεφαλικό τον ρίχνει σε κώμα. Μέσα στην ομίχλη του μυαλού του ξαναζεί τη ζωή του με έναν ανορθόδοξο τρόπο, προσπαθώντας να εκπληρώσει ένα όνειρο: να βρει τη χαμένη (και μοναδική) αγάπη του, τη Λίλα.

Η «Βασίλισσα Λοάνα» είναι το αριστούργημα του Έκο. Μια ελεγεία στη μετέωρη ανθρώ
...more
cold green tea
Aug 27, 2008 cold green tea rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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1730
Umberto Eco is an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His per ...more
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“When you are on the dancefloor, there is nothing to do but dance.” 78 likes
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