I think Umberto Eco is writing for an audience more erudite than I here. This book does not try to cater to lay people and you really do need to haveI think Umberto Eco is writing for an audience more erudite than I here. This book does not try to cater to lay people and you really do need to have some interest in linguistics to even begin to enjoy it. That said, it is less dry and dreary than I expected.
The five short essays, while decidedly academic, are interesting with a touch of humour (I liked Eco's contemplation on the language that would be spoken were Dante, Abulafia and Adam to convene in heaven) and cover the various aspects of language - religious, political, historical and social. I liked the first chapter, which talks of the way in which lies have shaped the world and the second, describing the quest to find the original language of paradise by people over time, among them Dante Alighieri and the effect this search had on the Divine Comedy.
My grouse is that the title (and the back cover, I might add) is rather misleading. Almost all of the discussion on serendipity is limited to the first chapter. The fourth and fifth chapters were unable to hold my attention as well as the first two. Then again, I suppose this is best appreciated by academics....more