Adam Norwood's Reviews > On Ugliness

On Ugliness by Umberto Eco
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's review
Sep 22, 2008

really liked it
Read in September, 2008 , read count: 1

A great overview of the "ugly" side of art history, with Eco's commentary deferring to quoted passages from example literature, some obscure, some well-studied. More of a survey than pure discourse or analysis, but that's okay by me. The book is also disappointingly Euro-centric, with only vague references to other culture's consideration of ugliness or horror (would have been great to see some examples from Japanese, Indian, African, or Meso-American literature, etc). The visual artwork in the book that accounts for roughly 50% of the pages is seldom mentioned in the text, but is a stunning assortment, ranging from images drawn by Rabelais for his "Gargantua & Pantagruel" to genuinely horrific photos of beheadings to Yoda as an example of kitsch.

Still, Eco's well-read background brings to light some new avenues to look down, some new names to research. Next up I'll be reading his earlier companion treatise "History of Beauty" (I figured going in this order would be a bit more cheerful).

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