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Serendipities: Language and lunacy

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,134 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
The multitalented Umberto Eco--novelist, critic, and literary theorist--turns his attention to the history of linguistics. In linguistics, as in the other sciences, Eco explains, there are serendipities: "Even the most lunatic experiments can produce strange side effects, stimulating research that proves perhaps less amusing but scientifically more serious." In his earlier ...more
Paperback, 163 pages
Published 1999 by Orion Books (first published 1998)
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Riku Sayuj

The Force of Falsity

Eco illustrates through multiple examples on what tenuous grounds much of our accepted history of today stands. What we believe, exists. And the belief outweighs the actual existence, or lack thereof.

Each of these stories/examples have a virtue: as narratives, they seem genuinely plausible, more than everyday or historical reality, which is far more complex and less credible. The stories seemed to explain something that was otherwise hard to understand. Hard to understand wit
...more
lisa_emily
Sep 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: linguctuals
Recommended to lisa_emily by: mic
I read this book because a friend gave it to me- he had an extra copy- and I wanted to read more Eco, (or at least another book by Eco, as so far I have read only one) this one looked thin and non-intimidating. If you have not read his "The Search for the Perfect Language", this little book of essays may seem as though it is coming from left field, since all the essays deal with the search for the original language and the degenerate manifestations of the so-called original language. You may als ...more
Ehsan seratin
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
خیلی سخته با رفقا رفته باشی بیرون و سر به کتابفروشی بزنید و یهو یه کتاب از اکو تو قفسهها ببینی و هی بهت چشمک بزنه و قبلش هم تو نمایشگاه کتاب انقدر خرید کرده باشی که دیگه دستت به خرید نره. خوشبختانه رضا QTA اونجا بود و کتاب رو در ازای یه کتاب ایلیاده برام گرفت به سنت قرض و این حرفها.
و اما چه تجربهی جذابی بود این کتاب. مشتمله بر پنج مقاله از اکو، که میشه گفت اولین تجربهی من بود تو زمینهی زبانشناسی و چقدر برام دوستداشتنی بود. این مقالات مکمل خیلی خوبی بودند برای درک شیوهی شکلگیری پلاتهای داستانهایی
...more
Mohamad
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
تابلوي مورد علاقه از نقاش مورد علاقه روي جلد كتابي از نويسنده مورد علاقه. دو مقاله ي اول شگفت انگيز بود. اونجا كه اكو با موشكافي و با استناد به انجيل، كمدي الهي و وقايع برج بابل، سعي در كشف راز زبان نخستين بشر دارد
Rebecca
Feb 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so terrible that I don't even feel remotely bad for abandoning it about 30 pages in. Frankly, those 30 pages were a waste of my time, and I'm only glad to have read them because I can now write this review. This book represented my first foray into the smoky and confusing world of Umberto Eco (not counting a few failed attempts to get past page 1 of The Name of the Rose over the years), and I hope never to return.

The first problem is that no one knows what this book is about, not ev
...more
Olia
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english
I need a hard copy of this book to read every year.
Simon Mcleish
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

Some of Eco's essays in semiotics (those in Travels in Hyperreality, for example), are to me fairly impenetrable. The five in this collection are not like that. Concentrating on aspects of the history of linguistic thought, they show a wide ranging and brilliant mind, but are written in a lass academic style. (It was the vast array of references to writers that I had never read that was daunting.) They read more like they are notes related to
...more
Dfordoom
May 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The main theme running through the essays in Umberto Eco’s Serendipities is that false or deluded or distorted (or even just plain crazy) ideas can change the world just as significantly as ideas that are true. And like ideas that are true, these ideas can change the world in positive or negative ways. The medieval belief in a vast Christian kingdom in the east, ruled by Prester John, was completely false but it was a major stimulus to European exploration and expansion. He also has some stimula ...more
Yesterday's Muse Bookstore
Another solid performance by Eco, though I don't think this book delivers what it advertises. What is supposed to tie together the five essays is a theme of mistakes that led to success, or ill-founded projects that facilitated great progress. I would say the first three essays are more successful than the final two in this regard, and also more enjoyable to read. They seem to have more of Eco's trademark flare for humor, and they seem to say what they intend to say more effectively.

I understand
...more
Naomi
Serendipities felt like little bits left over from the writing of The Search for the Perfect Language , which in a sense is what it is (in the introduction to Serendipities Eco writes 'In the introduction to my Search for a Perfect Language (1995), I informed the reader that, bearing in mind the physical limits of a book, I had been forced to omit many curious episodes, and I concluded: "I console myself that I have the material for future excursions in erudition"').

This work, although on one l
...more
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1730
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
More about Umberto Eco...
“The cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopedia.” 8 likes
“I concluded that although instruments, whether empirical or conjectural, exist to prove that some object is false, every decision in the matter presupposes the existence of an original, authentic and true, to which the fake is compared. The truly genuine problem thus does not consist of proving something false but in proving that the authentic object is authentic.” 0 likes
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