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The Island of the Day Before

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  13,639 ratings  ·  650 reviews
After a violent storm in the South Pacific in the year 1643, Roberto della Griva finds himself shipwrecked-on a ship. Swept from the Amaryllis, he has managed to pull himself aboard the Daphne, anchored in the bay of a beautiful island. The ship is fully provisioned, he discovers, but the crew is missing.

As Roberto explores the different cabinets in the hold, he remembers
Paperback, 528 pages
Published June 5th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published September 1994)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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Jon Melsæter
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I can't count the times I've tried to write a review of an Eco-book, whether physically or in my head, then decided to drop it.

Where does one start? How does one review a product of an intellect such as Eco's, a scholar in semiotics, history and god knows what else? Many reviews I've read here on The Island Of The Day Before are just plain moronic - outbursts of frustration because someone expected to grasp the contexts and countless themes it covers as easily as an airport-bestseller. I have a
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Owlseyes by: eco lei
Eco:" We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die".
Interview in Der Spiegel, November 11, 2009

UPDATE; Thank you Eco...!

Umberto Eco, 84, Best-Selling Academic Who Navigated Two Worlds, Dies

Stultus! Whom do I talk to?
Mar 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
was enthralled by The Name of the Rose as a work of historical fiction; loved reading Focault's Pendulum (anyone who enjoyed reading The DaVini Code should read this to experience a real historical-religious thriller.

The Island of the Day Before? this book inspired me to swear never to read a book written by Umberto Eco again. why? i had not made it all the way through Chapter 1 when i encountered the following sentence:

"It is only later that he will assume, in dreams, that the plank, by some me
Maksym Karpovets
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have no clear idea why people don’t like this book, because I do really think that is one of the most luminous Eco’s novels. The form of The Island of the Day Before (1994) could seem very simple, but it is not true. As often for Eco’s literal strategy he tries to mask a various citations, allusions and parallels with cultural and historical basis. Every novel looks like intertextual garland of signs and senses which are masterly contained into historical or philosophical fiction, detective or ...more
Patrick Neylan
Sep 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Readers expect Umberto Eco to take them on a stimulating journey of discovery as his characters unravel mysteries that take them to the heart of early Western civilisation. In The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum this style worked brilliantly. In the 'The Island of the Day Before' it fails catastrophically.

Eco spends hundreds of pages wallowing in his arcane knowledge, resorting to ever more desperate ploys to show off his learning, because this book has no plot to draw out those intelle
Jul 13, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Usually, I have one of three reactions to a book: I love it and plow through it, I hate it and put it down within 50 pages, or I like it and take my time, possibly reading other books simultaneously. This one ... oy. Because of The Name of the Rose, I kept expecting it to be good - or, more accurately, to get better. I waited 100 pages. Then 200 pages. Then 300 pages. Finally, I threw it across the room in frustration at 350 pages. I'm still bitter. ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I surmise Umberto Eco envisaged The Island of the Day Before as an antithesis of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – instead of a man surviving on a deserted island he portrayed his character secluded on a deserted ship and immersed him into all kinds of abstract cerebral musings.
But this somewhat artificial idea could only have somewhat artificial realization so the novel right from the start turned into elaborate exercises in style and erudition.
“Now I would say that harking back, on the ship,
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A rather large part of me is astounded, yet again, at the erudition and the hopelessly convoluted tale that Umberto Eco is able to write, all when staying close to a single, simple premise. Indeed, the amount of real history, real contemporary and historical thought pre-1640's, is enough to send any regular scholar into paroxysms of joy... or the need to act on vengeance.

At any point the book, I can sit back and enjoy the text, the dry accounting of an anonymous scholar as he (or she) goes over
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was recommended to read Umberto Eco by a friend of mine, and I was not disappointed at all.

Eco's style is a bit dense, so I can imagine it would not appeal to a lot of people. However, it's also extremely lyrical and beautiful. The book itself is littered with debates on life and death, love, the nature of God and time itself. This is probably the book's greatest strength, as Eco writes so beautifully about such lofty ideals. So for anyone who's a fan of debating or philosophy would probably e
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019

Eco was a great writer. His erudition was legendary and the two previous novels of his that I had completed expressed this well with great storytelling and suspense mixed with a welcome knowledge of the late Middle ages and early Modern period of Europe. While 'The Island of the Day Before', shares these same qualities, it is a completely different monster. At times, I found myself lost in the philosophical (perhaps pseudo-philosophical) meanderings of Roberto and his cohorts and that took
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Definitely my favorite Eco book. Got to give Annie props for recommending this one to me. Who knew that longitude could be such an interesting ontological motif?
Nov 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
I really hated this book. I choked through it due to the sheer fortitude engendered by my unreasonable need to finish every book that I start. Every. Single. Book. Had I been able to dismiss it, I would have. A friend once told me that I should read Eco's essays, and that his fiction was an attempt to destroy overly-used literary devices of current literature by gluttonously indulging in them. I've never actually bothered to look into whether or not it was true because, truthfully, it's the myth ...more
Aiden Heavilin
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Shipwrecked on a ship. Such is the predicament of Roberto della Griva, who, having survived the torments of the open ocean on board floating debris, discovers an enormous, abandoned ship resting in the water outside a mysterious island. He pulls himself on board and finds the ship empty, yet fully stocked, as if recently abandoned. The ship is vast and full of strange rooms. He discovers a garden populated with dozens of exotic birds, a room stocked with all manner of ticking clocks... As he exp
J.M. Hushour
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful elegiac invocation of a lost age and just as good as Eco's "The Name of the Rose". However, I'd be wary of recommending this to others, because in many ways it is more of a kind of unraveling of a novel than an actual novel. Now, I don't mean that in some stupid, pedantic, pomo bullshit kind of way. Rather, it is a multi-layered ode to a certain way of thinking in a certain era of history and how they can basically cause a novel to fall to pieces once you start plucking at it ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this one in the late 90s, bought a copy for my best friend shortly thereafter. I saw Ray Rizzo with a copy one evening at Ramsi's, I told him I enjoyed it and replied that he was eager for the challenge. He later played with Days of the New. Oh, those 90s! It was all optimism and challenges were there. Hubris was our cocktail. Our survival surprises me when I consider such. I should reread this ribald novel quite soon.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a fun book in many ways, but is best suited for someone who enjoys all things nautical, which I am not. I still liked it, I just got tired of all the crazy theories on how to figure out longitude.

It was interesting to read at this time, though. This guy was truly isolated, alone on a ship. We have so many ways to still reach people but he had only his imagination. He made excellent use of it.
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I originally read this when it first came out, but have just completed a reread.

It might be described as the ultimate shaggy dog story. Eco explores language to a large extent in this book with phrases that include multiple variations on a common stem, such as it was necessary that the necessities were provided or his intention was to intend on inattention. That kind of thing anyway.

His protagonist is stranded on a ship somewhere near the 180th meridian and writes of his past life, loves and fan
I really wanted to like this book. While I'm not a big fan of Eco's books, I somehow seem to collect them, nonetheless. The premise wowed me, the cover art is righteous...and yet. And yet. The main character drove me crazy, Hamlet-style. He reminded me of the fear mongers who work 9-5 jobs, but never leave their unhappy jobs and go through life blaming others. It's like driving in the slow lane, even though all the other lanes are empty, and then getting unhappy because the slow lane is bumper-t ...more
Sep 23, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This book fits the pattern I've come to expect in Umberto Eco's writing: an excellent story lost in a haze of random thoughts, obscure references, and all together too many words. I would love it if someone took this book's concept and turned it into the brilliant book that it deserves to be.
Judith Arvesu
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Roberto della Griva abandons his sinking ship only to wash up aboard the mysteriously abandoned Dutch ship, Daphne. Within sight is the island of the day before, and if he could only swim, he could reach it, and change the direction of his fate.

Island of the Day Before has a deceptively simple premise, but goes way beyond it. There are actually a LOT of things going on in this book. The book not only chronicles Roberto’s days on board the Daphne, but also most of his life: from his first battle
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, intellectuals
Shelves: favorites
Bust out the champagne - I finished this book and my head didn't crack. It is one of the most amazing, yet difficult, books I've ever read. The story presents itself on multiple levels: narrative, metaphoric, historical, imaginative, etc. I'd give it five stars if it wasn't for the convoluted writing style, which made me want to give up numerous times. I forged ahead because the question of "what's on the island?" kept nagging me.

I loved the historical portrait of this period, when people were e
Cathal Kenneally
Reading Umberto Eco is never an easy read but saying that, it doesn’t mean he’s not enjoyable. Added to the fact that all his books are translated from his native Italian, it is worth remembering.
Sometimes two or three people are involved in the translation. He does write a good yarn, especially where historical fiction is concerned.
I still think Focault’s Pendulum is his best work followed by The Prague Cemetery
Nov 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: folks who have a thing for medieval intellectual life but not one for modern-day literature.
Shelves: funsies, fiction
it was very long, and I did not enjoy it. Which is odd, honestly, because I loved Eco's Foucault's Pendulum - one of my favorite books. This one was a whole lot more like, well, slogging through 500 pages written by a Semiotics professor.

The plot is kind of fantastic, though. A man gets shipwrecked, latches onto a raft, and then washes up onto an abandoned ship. He can't swim, so now he's shipwrecked on a ship. this ship, of course, is riddled with secrets.

And then, lecturing ensues. It's all ab
[Name Redacted]
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
This is, by far, the most difficult novel I've ever read. I have never taken so long to finish a novel--ever. I studied the history of science and the history of early modern Europe in college (and recently refreshed my memory of both) and I'm pretty sure I caught maybe 20% of the scientific and philosophical references. At best.

As a means of putting the reader in the mindset of an early 17th century European, it's amazing. Flat out brilliant.

As a novel, it's slow, frustrating, and unsatisfyin
Scott Ford
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Umberto Eco intellectualizes within the restraints of 17th century knowledge and superstition about the physics of the earth's rotation, natural phenomena, life, death, and love- which makes for an interesting thought-experiment, but becomes tedious for any reader living in the 21st century with more than a high-school education. The story follows a young man trapped on a 17th century ship in the lagoon of an island (Solomon Island, perhaps). Between the ship and the island supposedly runs the p ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book is really the pits. A total drag. I kept idiotically dreaming it would get better after the first hundred pages (as per Eco's post script to "Name of the Rose," which is a TRUE DREAM!)...two hundred...three hundred...and then I finished it. Should have thrown it against the wall like the previous reviewer.

Gave it two stars hoping the cosmos will hand one over to
"Name of the Rose."
Basim Mahmoud

A mixture of Don Quijote and Moby Dick, had come this novel. Intending to write a study about it soon. AS usual, the magician was playing, throwing his codes, here and there, waiting for his "model reader" to interpret, (and to EXTRA-interpret), and, as I was supposing while proceeding; it's a big metaphor, or, by his tongue: " … they are mannered exercises".

Il maestro era un giocatore, un attore e un auonatore.
Clara Trillini
My favorite novel of this autor.
Kara Babcock
Reading a book by Umberto Eco has become a yearly tradition since I joined Goodreads, and for 2010 I just managed to squeeze The Island of the Day Before under the wire. For the past two years, each Eco book has also made its respective year's list of the best ten books I read that year. If The Island does not join them in this honour, it is only because I have been lucky enough to read so many other great books in 2010. However, this is not a retrospective on my reading over the entire year; th ...more
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Umberto Eco was an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books. 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 perceptive essays on modern culture are filled with a delightful sen ...more

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