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Die Bücher und das Paradies. Über Literatur.

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,580 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In this collection of essays and addresses delivered over the course of his career, Umberto Eco seeks "to understand the chemistry of [his] passion" for the word. From musings on Ptolemy and "the force of the false" to reflections on the experimental writing of Borges and Joyce, Eco's encyclopedic knowledge is on display throughout.
Paperback, 1, 348 pages
Published February 2006 by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (first published 2002)
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There is a lot more here than the title suggests: 'On Literature' includes a history of Italian anti-Americanism, and a piece on the power of lies and deceit throughout history, moving from the Donation of Constantine to the Hollow Earth theory.

Still, it is no surprise that Eco's interests are wide and deep. He writes about the imaginary worlds within worlds of Borges, Joyce's literary influences, Aristotle's Poetics and Dante's Paradiso. He plays around with aphorisms and picks apart etymology
Scribble Orca
Apr 27, 2013 Scribble Orca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, fans of Eco, literature reviewers
Shelves: literary
Seen this film by Luc Besson?

A 21 hour plane trip is usually the only chance I have to watch a few films. The last long journey I made offered such a dismal selection that for this trip I was already packed with every single one of those books on my 'currently reading' list and determined to finish each (and write a review) whilst on the first and longest leg of my two sector flight.

The best laid plans of ants and a person.

I decided to start with Umberto Eco, and following my fickle habit, I ope
Мартин Касабов
За литературата:

Еко, редом с Борхес и Калвино, са автори, които напоследък ме карат да се чувствам глупав и културно изостанал. Не само, че ме смазват със своята богата култура, те също така убиват всяка надежда някога да се доближа до тях. Дали ще цитира произведения, с които дори не разполагаме на български език или ще се рови в средновековни ръкописи, страстта на Умберто Еко към литературата е уловена чудесно в настоящия сборник. "За литературата" съби
Questo è il mio primo tentativo di scrivere una recensione in italiano, soprattutto per rispettare la mia decisione di scrivere "i review" nella lingua in cui ho letto l’opera. Chiedo scusa a priori per le goffaggini stilistiche e ringrazio molto la mia carissima amica che ha avuto pazienza di leggere in anticipo questo testo (però non questa nota in cui gli errori sono tutti miei!)

Cominciando con un’opinione generale su Alcune funzioni della letteratura per finire con un resoconto personale e
Dimitris Lianos
Mar 13, 2016 Dimitris Lianos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These speeches on Literature that make up this book were perhaps the most difficult thing I've ever read. Many things I didn't understand, but many others left me in awe. 4 stars therefore, plus 1 for the Greek translator. I can't even begin to comprehend what knowledge is needed to perform this task!
Arun Divakar
Umberto Eco has been an author whose works I have been trying to finish albeit unsuccessfully for quite some time now. I have tried twice to finish 'Name of the rose' but gave up half way in the process for want of a better reason. Foucault's Pendulum was no better either. The books seemed to mock me ' you need to read much better than this to get to us, boyo !!' was what they seemed to tell me. Every time at the library I pause at the rack on Eco's books and think "Should I ? or Should I not ? ...more
Georgina Coutroud
Καταπιάνεται (σχεδόν) με τα πάντα και σε κάνει να ψαχτείς ακόμα περισσότερο!
Λόγου χάρη ξέρατε πως το "Κεφάλαιο" του Μαρξ μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί και από λογοτεχνικής πλευράς;
Νομίζω ότι απλά είναι ένας από τους λίγους Δασκάλους..και εμείς τυχεροί μαθητές του!
Jean Tessier
Oct 30, 2012 Jean Tessier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure
The book is a collection of essays written by Umberto Eco for various conferences.

On Some Functions of Literature (2000)

Literature keeps language alive. It creates a shared body of stories and characters. Different authors each given them their own spin, but their core is part of the collective consciousness.

A Reading of the Paradiso (2000)

Paradiso is about light, which was an important concept to medieval readers and thinkers. Cathedrals are all about different kinds of light. We don't pay
Feb 27, 2011 Christy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
A mixed bag; ceremonial talks at awards ceremonies probably aren't where a scholar produces his best work. He's at his dullest talking about the authors he admires, like Joyce or Borges (and outright useless talking about ones he doesn't, like Oscar Wilde), and at his best talking about things like the persistent influence of Aristotle's Poetics in modern ideas about narrative, or the rhetorical structures in The Communist Manifesto. I just like the fact that he's one of those rare figures (his ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Temz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Четири звезди поради несъгласието ми на места с позицията му, както и заради изданието на БАРД. Но все пак...
По-скоро gratia sui, oт любов към себе си, посегнах към „За литературата“ (изд. „БАРД“, 2015) от Умберто Еко. След разочарованието „Нулев брой“ теоритичният размах на италианския автор бе нужната разходка из гората на словото, с която да разсея лошото впечатление, оставено от гореспоменатата.
Във фаталните 13 есета Еко успява да прониже литературата достъпно, методично и целенасочено. Тоз
May 14, 2015 Milla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a collection of rewritten essays on literature from the past 20 to 30 years. The range of topics in the book is vast and for someone who (me) is neither an expert nor a student of the field, some of them are beyond difficult to follow. However, the essays that deal with Eco's own novels and other familiar books are very enjoyable. What I appreciate the most is the chance to learn how someone with actual knowledge of the history and literary references understands the mentioned books. ...more
Nov 22, 2008 Ilia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: out-on-loan
"On Literature" opened my eyes to the horizons of literary criticism. (Caveat: I knew nothing about lit-crit then, and still know next to nothing about it now.)

Eco combines several essays - each focused on one book (most of which I still haven't read) and on a particularly striking aspect of this book.

Reading "On Literature", you are led into the dark and imposing forest of literature and suddenly realize that it's not as tangled and incomprehensible as you imagined.

One of the essays explores th
Harold Bloom Jr
Mar 26, 2012 Harold Bloom Jr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Umberto Eco's ON LITERATURE is another literary treat. These are three hundred pages of sublime thoughts from the superstar academic-novelist. What I loved about this book is how Eco really goes in to the technical aspects of storytelling.

There are useful chapters on the 'functions of literature', style, symbolism and irony.

My favourite chapter is called 'How I Write' where Umberto Eco writes about how he ended up writing most of his successful novels, especially THE NAME OF THE ROSE.

And the
Jan 25, 2013 Sunny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved this. always love books about books. he mentions maybe around 75 books here the majority i hadnt read or heard of but had read a good dozen that hes spoken about so it was interesting hearing his perspectives on them. the chapter where he talks about the name of the rose is really interesting and how he writes and how he prepares for sometimes 2 years researching, and drawing and taking pictures and notes was incredible. its inspired me to do the same with my book. very scientific approach ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Solar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Есетата на Умберто Еко могат да се разгледат като своеобразен тест за интелигентност - това какво ще разбере читателят зависи от литературната му интелигентност. В този смисъл са доста вълнуващи за хората със сериозно отношение към текста. Книгата се състои от 13 есета, които бих определила като философски. Първите две есета са разсъждения върху функциите на литературата и Рая на Данте. В следващото есе за парадоксите и афоризмите ме изненада изключително негативното отношение на Еко към Оскар У ...more
Katri Mei
Nov 09, 2015 Katri Mei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Цялото ревю -

Първата ми среща с Умберто Еко беше в "Как се пише дипломна работа", когато писах първата си дипломна работа. За втората, неговите есета не ми бяха необходими, но и след "Името на розата", Умберто Еко ми се струваше твърде философски автор, твърде описателен, дори повече от любимите ми Гогол и неговият Плюшкин. Но все пак избрах "За литературата" (Издателска къща БАРД, 2015) именно заради литературните теми, а и защото смятам, че една такава
Imran Kazi
Mar 17, 2016 Imran Kazi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Eco is brilliant, clear and factual on all things he has to say. Some of the articles requires understanding of Italian literature or classical literature which I skipped because my lack of knowledge. But those on symbolism, perception of American culture in Italy, and particularly 'How I write?' and the 'The power of falsehood' were superb. The last two are actually pretty necessary to understand Eco's novels and the ideas from which they germinated.
Sep 17, 2009 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eco cites Borges as a major influence, and it's clear fun to read his linking of Borges, the possible world of the possible library, incontrovertible facts in fiction, hypertext, Dante, Wilde, and on. A fine mind, if far more 'academic' than Borges. Good criticism here; if you are averse to semiotics, you may not like it so much, but Eco draws creative threads and reminds us that a society without literature is a poor one indeed.
Bryan Szabo

Eco reminds me of many things, but this most of all: that which I have read is but a drop in the bucket. There are moments in these essays that make this point more obvious (especially since Eco addresses his readers as though they are familiar, even intimately so, with the works--even the arcane ones--under discussion. Still, his erudition and clear delight vis-a-vis the written word is inspiring.
Aug 14, 2008 Gitta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, language
I like reading Eco on his writing and on language in general. He takes an infectuous delight in language, as a reader and as an author. Other than the Name of the Rose I have not managed to finish any of his novels, but am fascinated by the processes he lays out in this book, and in Mouse or Rat, another non-fiction book by him about translation.
May 17, 2010 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you only I have time to read a few of the essays in this book, read the following:

1) On the Style of the Communist Manifesto
2) On Symbolism
3) On Style
4) Intertextual Irony and Levels of Reading
5) The American Myth in Three Anti-American Generations

These are, in my opinion, the best of an excellent set of essays.
Yumna Hari
Apr 29, 2016 Yumna Hari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esoteric. And written for the scholastic reader, with a few chapters easily accessible to the naive reader (me). Having said that, the only chapter I have abandoned is the one on The Mists of the Valois. The first time I stopped reading the book, I got lost there, never having encountered the original text and unable to find myself through the labyrinth.

The second time I picked up the book, years later, off my bookshelf in my in-law's house, when my son was barely eight months old, I started wi
Aug 27, 2007 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldnotfinish
I understand Mr. Eco is one complex dude, but when you're writing about literature please keep the sentences to less than four dependent clauses. Sheesh...
Luciana Darce
Jul 03, 2014 Luciana Darce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Toda vez que leio Eco, fico meio atarantada. Sinto-me assim um tanto socrática, repetindo para mim mesma "só sei que nada sei". Ele exercita minha humildade ao me fazer dar conta de um mundo de coisas sobre as quais, até então, não tinha refletido; um mundo de livros que ainda não li e que, de repente, fico morrendo de vontade de conhecer.

Confesso que um dos meus grandes sonhos de consumo é assistir uma aula ou palestra de signore Eco ao vivo.

Tudo isso me voltou esse fim de semana enquanto lia o
There're altogether 18 titles in this paperback, in fact, I liked its hardcover at first sight (same pictorial cover design) but it's unreasonably costly to me. So a few months later, I could buy this Vintage and read some interesting few, therefore, I'd write my comments from what I scribbled while reading. For instance:

1. On Some Functions of Literature
Professor Umberto wrote this exposition worth reading and reflecting, thus, for some readers whose mind filled with boredom should find this pi
Read with Eco's Six Walks in the Fictional Woods for a pretty good idea of Eco's poetics. Both books examine the limits of what can be done by the author through examining the experience of the reader. This collection doesn't really get going until about 100 pages in, with its pair of essays on Borges, but after those first 100 pages, it is a delight (and he explains a bit about why one can have 100 pages that might not interest the reader, because his ideas about the "model reader" and writing ...more
Stephen Wong
Aug 10, 2011 Stephen Wong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read again Umberto Eco since Foucault's Pendulum about twenty years ago. And I think now that I was a naive reader back then. This summer was spent in some widening horizons in literature this time. (I remember last summer I was in the middle of reading Proust's reading of John Ruskin.) This anthology of Eco's other writings serves to bring the journey home from the expanse of the travels of an interested writer, that is, interested in his craft, but also fully didactic unto the reader ...more
Alex Lee
Sep 17, 2015 Alex Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, essays
This collection of essays highlights what a fascinating and active mind Umberto Eco has. His appreciation of knowledge, literature and the written arts shines brilliantly through each page. Some of these essays are a bit erudite but Eco's characteristic wit, charm and thoroughly creative reasoning shows us a path through the fogginess of such discussion.

While the essays start off more academic than not (the essays feel chronologically ordered), Eco seems to come out onto his own by the end, talk
Siskoid Albert
Jan 17, 2012 Siskoid Albert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why, but I don't really want to read fiction these days. I'm all about essays. My latest read was Umberto Eco's On Literature, a collection of literary essays (often reworked from talks) published in 2002. Eco's engaging, personalized style makes for interesting reading even when you don't know anything about the book or books discussed or referenced, which happens rather a lot because of his Italian point of view. Works integral to Italian culture aren't always familiar to the Engl ...more
Apr 14, 2015 Nuska rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"Quieren abolir el estudio de los clásicos y de la historia antigua, pretenden fomentar el deporte y la comunicación visual para estupidizar a la clase trabajadora...". (302).

"¿Por qué considerar absurda la creencia en la conspiración y en el complot cuando todavía hoy se usa para explicar el fracaso de las propias acciones o el hecho de que los acontecimientos hayan tomado un curso distinto del deseado?". (309).

Una recopilación de breves ensayos o artículos de Umberto Eco siempre en torno al
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  • The Uses of Literature
  • A Reader on Reading
  • Lectures on Literature
  • The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life
  • For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction
  • The Art of the Novel
  • Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
  • Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
  • Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics
  • The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel
  • The Anatomy of Bibliomania
  • A Literature Of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë To Lessing
  • Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments
  • 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
  • S/Z
  • The Rhetoric of Fiction
  • The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts
  • This Craft of Verse
Umberto Eco was 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 pe ...more
More about Umberto Eco...

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“There is only one thing that you write for yourself, and that is a shopping list.” 13 likes
“To emend one's thinking constantly is a desirable practice, and one I often engage in--sometimes to the point of being almost schizophrenic. But there are cases where one should not parade changes just to prove one is up to date. In the field of ideas, as much as in other fields, monogamy is not necessarily a sign of absence of libido.” 6 likes
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