The Infinity of Lists
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The Infinity of Lists

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  292 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In the history of Western culture we find lists of saints, ranks of soldiers, catalogues of grotesque creatures or medicinal plants, and hordes of treasure. This infinity of lists is no coincidence: a culture prefers enclosed, stable forms when it is sure of its own identity, while when faced with a jumbled series of ill-defined phenomena, it starts making lists. The poeti...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Maclehose Press Quercus (first published 2009)
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A List of Lists
9th out of 216 books — 17 voters
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11th out of 14 books — 32 voters


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Fahad
لانهائية القوائم

لا يصح أن تقرأ هذا الكتاب كما تفعل مع أي كتاب آخر، من الجلدة إلى الجلدة، لا... هذا كتاب تضعه إلى جانب فراشك، وتتصفحه في الليالي الجميلة عندما يكون لديك مزاج كافٍ للانغماس في الفن، هكذا... تختار النص الذي يروق لك وتغرق.

أصنف هذا الكتاب في فئة خاصة، فئة الكتب التي وضعها مهووسو الكتب، أليس كل الكتاب مهووسين بالكتب؟ وإلا لم شقوا ليحولوا أفكارهم إلى هذا الشكل الجميل من الجلد والورق والحبر؟ لا... أنا أقصد النوع الآخر من المهووسين، النوع الذي يفعل كما فعل بورخيس فيضع كتاباً يضم المخلوق...more
Robert Tiess
Lavishly illustrated and a formidable project undertaken by one of the most capable writers of the day.

The treatment here slants decidedly classical/Medieval (which should little surprise Eco enthusiasts).

This is not an exhaustive examination of every possible list in existence, and the author warns us accordingly in the opening pages as to the limits of his approach.

Art images and excerpts from world literature support and complement the author's intent to explore the phenomena of creating list...more
Heather Shaw
Umberto Eco is a world renowned medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, literary critic, and currently the president of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna. A frequent contributor to the popular press, Eco has written two children’s books, and is a successful novelist and essayist. His best-known novels are The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. Eco, however, confessed in an interview in 1996 that The Name of the Rose may be a book more unread that read. “It hap...more
Rexistopheles
Umberto Eco will remain a fixture in my fantasy dinner party, next to Frederic Chopin and Dorothy Parker. There is something heroic and yet humble in his intellect. Those that have followed his collaboration with the Louvre have enjoyed his taking unusual themes, sometimes brilliant for their obviousness like "beauty" other times brilliant for their subtle importance like "enumeration", and watch him walk through the western canon the way michael jordan drives the key.

Those treating these works...more
Steve
Eco's eccentric book is a ramble through the lists, catalogues, collections and antiquaries that have fashioned our culture. You will learn odd facts, strange details, and obscurities gallore. Eco brings his polymathic knowledge and voluminous reading to bear on the subject of lists.

Beautifuly produced. fully illustrated, with commentary and collections of quotations, literary extracts and poetry.

There are lists of all sorts and kinds. There are pictures that form kinds of lists, collection are...more
David Lafferty
A gorgeous book filled with amazing images, wonderful commentary (of course) by Eco, and very cool excerpts from a variety of literature. Some of this stuff is obscure to say the least. This is a book to be savored, and I anticipate I'll be enjoying it for a lifetime.
Kate
Feb 05, 2010 Kate marked it as to-read
I was going to buy this from the London Review Bookstore (one of my top 10 favorite bookstores) but didn't. It was just too heavy. I was already laden with computer and photography equipment. In heels. Raining. Another time.
Rebecca
Oh, Mr. Eco! If I could understand what you have written I would worship your god-like abilities to write!

Knowing that Umberto Eco is not easy reading and, thinking that this "brief" "picture book" would be a light (ha!) introduction to his style before attempting The Name of the Rose, I picked it up with the intention to finish it in a couple of days.

Don't let the concise chapters and the numerous photo-filled pages fool you; this isn't an easy book to get through.

The motivation behind this boo...more
Marcella Bongiovanni
Un po' deludente, acquistato per una passione insana per le liste...
Jeff
A series of meditations on the character of different sorts of lists, especially those that appear in literature and art, Eco's rich illustrative excerpts are more substantial than his own prose. Some of these lists are wonderful, but lists aren't necessarily the most engaging genre to read. Eco's thoughts, especially in the first half of the book are quite compelling, but I wish he would have included more about the connections between the excellent art collection here and his various categorie...more
Andrea Patrick
Something of a companion to Eco's quick art history survey History of Beauty and follow-up On Ugliness, but with the addition of literature to the survey. Eco sorts out the different kinds of lists (I couldn't even name three before I read this) and gives wonderful examples. Accompanying examples of art demonstrate visual conceptions of what might be categorized as lists. As always, Eco makes me think about thinking in new ways.
Mary Kathryn
Lovely on the eyes, Eco's consideration of lists and catalogues, which he wrote in response to a request from the Louvre, dwells mostly on the visual side. As a maximalist, I enjoyed this erudite discussion of visual and literary lists, but lamented the lack of cookbook consideration. He points out some interesting binaries/distinctions, such as pragmatic and poetic lists, as well as coherent and chaotic lists.
Rosemary
Better than counting sheep for insomniacs: contemplating the scenes engraved upon the shield of Achilles. Or reading again Homer's catalog of ships. Based on a series of lectures by Eco and illustrated with masterworks from the Louvre, this not a read cover-to-cover book. This is a dip into a chapter and slowly savor, drifting off to dream of lists of angels.
Susu
Wie erfindet der Mensch Kultur? Na, er schreibt Listen, Kataloge und Übersichten. Am Ende sammelt Eco all diese Beispiele und macht nicht nur ein schlaues Buch daraus, sondern auch noch eine Reihe von Vorträgen in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Louvre. Genauso so schön - schlau - umfassend - wie die Geschichten der Schönheit und Häßlichkeit.
Jonfaith
The hefty portfolio concludes with a poem by Apollinaire and I found myself sighing and drifting again through the arresting collection of images. I read the sections by Burton, Pynchon and Calvino a number of times. This is a great book to keep at home, not designed for portability.
Laura-nassidesa Eschbaugh
Having a hard time with this book, to be honest I am skipping a lot. I wish the illustration and art work had the same explanations as the literary works. I was surprised by the number of errors and typos. I would not recommend this book as a book to read for enjoyment.
Sonia
Es ist nicht ganz ehrlich von mir zu schreiben, dass ich das Buch gelesen habe. Ich habe es nur durchgeblättert, aber dies mehrmals und mit großem Vergnügen.
Sem
May 23, 2011 Sem rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
I wish I could give it more stars but while Eco's potboilers are attractive they're riddled with mistakes. And the choice of lists was less than stellar.
Ed Finn
A weird, remarkable and beautiful book. A compendium of literary lists and an incredible trove of related art.
El
Dec 08, 2010 El marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist
I can't decide if I want Santa to get this for me or for my boyfriend.
Stacy
I may have read this too quickly to fully appreciate.
joshuA
Read / skimmed through the essays. A must read.
Eznelak (Jamie)
A beautiful book from my Valentine! :)
Matthew
Perhaps my perfect book
Gavin
Gavin marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2014
Mirjana
Mirjana marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2014
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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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