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Travels in Hyperreality

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,316 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
Eco displays in these essays the same wit, learning, and lively intelligence that delighted readers of The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. His range is wide, and his insights are acute, frequently ironic, and often downright funny. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Paperback, 324 pages
Published May 27th 1990 by Mariner Books (first published 1973)
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Daniel Clausen
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2017

I like to pick books at random and wander for a bit. Sometimes these wanderings take me places I want to go and find rewarding, other times they just take me wandering.

But wandering is important. It's important to get lost, to try new things, to add spontaneity to your life.

I wander into an essay about garments in this book that changes the way I write this book review.

In one of the essays, Eco describes how the garments of our time shape our personality, even our writing.

Eco writes that a g
C. Varn
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Travels in Hyperreality was a text from the late 1970s and early 1980s editorials by Umberto Eco which really hit home when a lot of the meta-commentary of entertainment hit in 1990s when I read it was a freshman in college. In many ways, Eco is a less "radical" Baudrillard, but one commentator with more knowledge of the medieval and the grounding of semiotics to really make it stick. Many of the assertions in this book about spectacle seem more true now than in the 1990s when social media has l ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
Eco suggests that for the average American’s taste, he feels the past must be preserved and celebrated in full-scale authentic copies; a philosophy of immortality as duplication. He also feels that Americans always want more of extra, and that we are not satisfied with the average serving of life and must strive to fabricate the absolute fake - for instance the oval office in Texas. Everyone, except perhaps, New Orleans, is on his shit list.
In his travels across American observing various museum
Alex Bigney
May 31, 2008 rated it liked it
hmmm. nice read until i got bored with an idea that was beat to death. eco seems to be in love with his own ability to draw obvious conclusions. and the conclusions start to lack while the pretention grows. i couldn't finish it--but the first half was good, so i gave it three stars. eco's main event seems to me to be "the name of the rose" afterwhich he becomes "umberto eco" and starts to rehearse that act a bit too much.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This is a book of essays covering the years from 1973 through 1986 by Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist (The Name of the Rose), semiotician, and cultural critic. I had to look up the word “semiotician” (one who studies signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication). I cannot say that I enjoyed this book; Eco always writes as if his audience just graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Western Civilization ...more
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: postmodernism
A writer interested in a pseudoscholastic take on a nation so consumed by modernity that it became a hysteric caricature, and in the ways history is bastardized and the present ridiculously beatified to create a sleazy metropolis absent of culture, Eco was William Gibson ten years in advance.

Eco knows how to tell a tale, and getting drawn into his essays (which are more like bottomless trickbags) is hardly a difficult task. The breadth of his observation is exhausting; the title essay alone touc
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Useful for understanding the role of mimesis and simulacra in the latter half of the last century.

Sample snark: "True, if you reverse the signs, both say the same thing (namely, the media do not transmit ideologies; they are themselves ideologies), but McLuhan's visionary rhetoric is not lachrymose, it is stimulating, high-spirited, and crazy. There is some good in McLuhan, as there is in banana smokers and hippies. We must wait and see what the'll be up to next."

Read these essays if you're at a
There are (at least) two Umberto Ecos: the historical novelist of intricate, intellectually-driven plotlines and the pithy, witty essayist who comments on current events. Stylistically, these Ecos bear little resemblance to each other. They seem, instead, to share a teleological source, a general impulse, that is characterized by viewing everything always through the matrix of semiotics (well, that, and an encyclopedic knowledge of cultural references, arcane and popular, that allows me to menta ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
A collection of essays by Umberto Eco from the seventies and early eighties written in the Italian Press and collected and translated into english. Eco when he writes for popular audiences is fun to read whether it be fiction or non-fiction. These essays are good and while a few are a little dated these days especially when he talks about media which back then was television and radio most of the essays and ideas are fresh and interesting. Some of his critiques of American culture in the begini ...more
Jun 11, 2009 added it
These essays are not for the layman. They are complex and sometimes difficult to follow if you're not well-versed in whatever it is he's talking about. I got something out of a few of the pieces, but much of it was lost on me, perhaps for lack of really caring enough to put forth the requisite intellectual effort. As such, i won't give this one a rating. Just know that (minus one or two essays - in particular the one about blue jeans) this is not light reading.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His analysis of Hyperreality defined how I saw things in the 90s and influenced a lot of decisions I made about my own personal artistic journey. He is a brilliant intellectual & a passionate writer...a rare combination. I also loved Foucault's Pendulem. It is the thinking woman's version of stupid Da Vinci's codes lack of context.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Reading this collection of Eco essays from the late '60's to '70's was exactly like reading his body of fiction: some were just so good, and some were just confusing and not all that interesting.
In Eco's fiction you can predict how good a novel will be based on its chronological setting alone. The "older" the better. Medieval? Fantastic. Contemporary? Uh oh. Which is funny, because in this book his essays pertaining to "older" subjects are almost all better than those about "contemporary" (cont
Gytis Dovydaitis
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, academic
Let's hop in a holographic car for an eclectic adventure. We will begin with wax museums, proceeding with a couple of theme parks and fake cities, then trying to find God in places of warship and flying over soccer spectacles afterwards. On our way we will question McLuhan, symbolic value of commodities in world fairs, the semiotic functioning of comic, and what kind of changes in behavior do tightening of ones testicles induce. My favorite place to stop - medieval times. Our mission of the jour ...more
Tim Pendry

Umberto Eco (who died only in February 2016) scored a major popular hit in the English-speaking world with his historical mystery novel The Name of the Rose filmed with Sean Connery in the lead role and released in 1986 (the same year as this collection was published in English).

Eco was a leading Italian intellectual, undoubtedly highly intelligent, whose interests covered medieval philosophy and aesthetics, literary criticism, media studies, semiotics and anthropology. As a novelist, he was alm
Alex V.
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read only two essays in this collection. The title one speaks to the beautiful and horrific American sense of inflated reality as it manifests in its tourist spectacles, citing as examples a number of places I've been: San Simeon, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Disneyland and Disney World, and particularly the Madonna Inn, an over-the-top, theme-roomed Swiss chalet hotel in San Luis Obispo, CA where I spent my honeymoon. Eco doesn't sign off on the life-as-circus as he sees it here, but he gets why w ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I have to admit, I only bought this because the title made me laugh. The titular essay is the best thing here and is really the only piece from this book I would recommend strongly. It's a little reminiscent of Joan Didion, in its focus on the peculiarities of California culture in the 20th century and the underlying psychologies that bring about monuments to artificiality like Ripley's Wax Museum, William Randolph Hearst's sprawling mansion, and good ol' Disneyworld. Although there are some int ...more
11/12/2010 The beginning of this book was killing me - he goes on and on and on about some ideas and it was just plain boring - yes it's important to consider how we think of 'real' and qualify the representations of such, but there comes a point when you've communicated your idea and you just need to move on. I was beginning to think I should give up on him as an essayist, but now I'm in the midst of a section titled 'Reports from the Global Village' and despite the years since this book was co ...more
"To speak of things that one wants to connote as real, these things must seem real. The 'completely real' becomes identified with the 'completely fake.' Absolute unreality is offered as real presence. The aim of the reconstructed Oval Office is to supply a 'sign' that will then be forgotten as such: The sign aims to be the thing, to abolish the distinction of the reference, the mechanism of replacement. Not the image of the thing, but its plaster cast. Its double, in other words (pg. 7)."
Working my way through this one... slowly. I just finished the first essay on America's obsession with hyperrealism, the fetishization of places that preserve a "better" (read= more real than real) version of historical truth.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lot of cool articles. Tough just keeping up with wikipediaing all the references. The man's an Italian Dennis Miller, only you know, smart.
I feel like this book is staring at me.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality was an impulsive used bookstore purchase. It consists of only loosely connected essays. The hyperreality one is good--he traveled around the United States to examine how we construct different realities. Sometimes they are copies of European originals and sometimes, like Disneyland and Disney World, we construct fake worlds that are intended to be artificial but actually better than reality. And he can be pretty funny.

Some of it veers into the impenetrable:
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
In the tradition of Barthes' Mythologies and yet a more potent work, Eco's meditations are sharper, more keen and simultaneously intensive and extensive. He covers such ground and yet maintains his academic rigour to travel deep into these hyperrealities and offer us unmatched insight into the cultural minutae that pervade our lives and time. And what is more, he does so while literally travelling through the spaces he discusses rather than commentate from the comforts of a chintz armchair and t ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Umberto Eco is one of my favourite authors and I read this immediately after the disastrous vote for the UK to leave the EU. This is a book about glamour, about lies, about untruths and fake news and was presciently written from a series of essays started in the early 1970s and updated in the mid-1980s.
Eco effortlessly and wittily takes us through his thoughts on Disneyland, mass media, wax museums and many other strange facets of contemporary culture, always with humanity and erudition and tole
Alicia Fox
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a collection of essays 30-40 years old. It's worth reading for the first essay alone, even if references throughout the book are quite dated and often obscure.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Good; repetitive.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
i liked the part about his blue jeans
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing essays on semiotics. Deeply interesting.
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
-Çöken ROMA İmparatorluğu'nun nedenleri, Helenizm ve Tanrı Mitra inancına kapısını açması, Hıristiyanlığın gelişmesi, yeni kabilelerin göçlerinin kabulü ve vatandaşlaştırılmasıdır. Asiller pagan tanrılarına, askerler Tanrı Mitra'ya, köleler ise Hıristiyanlığa inanmakta; Klasik Romalı ve onun pagan inanışları ortadan kalmaktaydı. Bugün BATI'DA ROMA'NIN YIKILMASINDAN ÖNCEKİ HALE BENZER DURUMLAR MEVCUTTUR: Klasik Batılı liberal/ entelektüel yok olmakta, Rönesans'ın öncüsü püri
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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

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“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.” 300 likes
“Once upon a time there were mass media, and they were wicked, of course, and there was a guilty party. Then there were the virtuous voices that accused the criminals. And Art (ah, what luck!) offered alternatives, for those who were not prisoners to the mass media.

Well, it's all over. We have to start again from the beginning, asking one another what's going on.”
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