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Conversations About the End of Time Hardcover – April, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just a bit late for the party in Times Square--though rather early for the Apocalypse--comes this friendly book, first published in France (and in French) in 1998. Its four eminent thinkers from the U.S., Italy and France discuss--in chatty Q&A format--history, chronology, religion, paleontology, ecodisaster, and other subjects linked to Y2K. Paleontologist Gould (Questioning the Millennium, etc.) delves into the history of the calendar and of human error, and explains the different "time-scales" appropriate to microbes, mice and minerals: he declares affably that "the way reality proves predictions false is a constant pattern in human history." French Catholic historian Delumeau has penned treatises on fear, reassurance, and Paradise in medieval and Renaissance Europe: here he discusses "the meaning of suffering," Christian ethics, Old Testament prophets, millenarian monks' vision of Y1K and Renaissance eschatologies. Playwright and screenwriter Carri?re skips from Hindu cosmology (discouraging) to local oenology (very encouraging) to literary history. And novelist Eco (The Name of the Rose, etc.) reconsiders religion, mysticism, New Age movements, the Web, the Tower of Babel, and the crowd of "Diabolicals," wannabe prophets who see urgent meanings in every squiggle. Sometimes provocative, sometimes superficial, all four "conversations" take similar turns: the world won't end tomorrow, the authors agree, but it's interesting to explore exactly why we care who thinks it will. Each thinker's conversation takes place not with the other thinkers but the French editors; each man, however, contributes a two-page conclusion responding to the other thinkers' ideas. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Rex Harrison's ego was almost as large as his talent; his performance as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady remains one of the legendary highlights of the American musical theater, and he won a Best Actor Oscar when he repeated the role in the 1964 film. In the early 1980s, Garland directed Harrison in a revival of My Fair Lady--not a completely happy experience owing to cast problems, forgotten lines, and the suicide of Harrison's fourth wife, Rachel Roberts. This slim book recounts the moments Garland spent with Harrison in his last decade, and it's a sad, funny, often appalling portrait of a lion in winter. Brief vignettes of other theater luminaries and observations about backstage theater life are woven into the narrative. The result is an affectionate, anecdotal memoir, though many readers are unlikely to share the author's warmth toward his difficult subject. Recommended as a supplement to Harrison's two autobiographies, Rex (LJ 5/15/75) and A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy (LJ 12/90).
-Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fromm Intl (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880642173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880642170
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,305,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Umberto Eco (born 5 January 1932) is an Italian novelist, medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, and literary critic.

He is the author of several bestselling novels, The Name of The Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of The Day Before, and Baudolino. His collections of essays include Five Moral Pieces, Kant and the Platypus, Serendipities, Travels In Hyperreality, and How To Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays.

He has also written academic texts and children's books.

Photography (c) Università Reggio Calabria

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Khemprof TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Conversations About the End of Time is a a discussion of questions and answers given by four thinkers. Stephen Jay Gould, Umberto Eco, Jean-Claude Carriere and Jean Delumeau all answer questions and are given a chapter in this book to espouse their respective answers.
Just think of a coffee table discussion, of a one on one discussion and you get to read the answers on questions of import. Each answering these questions with their respective insights and down-to-earth style. Each having their respective life experiences to draw from to unravel perplexing questions.
With fascination you read the thought-provoking answers. The answers will suprise some, others may be right inline with what you'd expect, but nerver boring... challenging, educational, lucid and erudite are more what you'd expect and you are not dissapointed.
This book reads fast and the questions are cogent with the general topic. Each respective thinker answers in a style of their own and the reader does not feel irrelevant. This is an interesting book in that questions asked make the reader think as well.
I found the book to be highly interesting and it has a fascination woven throughout the text captivating the reader.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on December 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This work does not really hang together very well. Each of the respective contributors does his own thing.

The work contains according to the book - jacket these essays. " Paleontologist Stephen Jay Goud on dating the Creation, evolutionary ' deep time' and the need for ecological ethics on a human scale. Novelist, medievalist and Web fanatic UmbertoEco on the breave new world of cyberspace, and its likely impact on memory, cultural continuity and access toknowledge. Catholic historian Jean Delumeau on how the Western Imagination has always been haunted by ideas of the Apocalypse. ScreenwriterJean- Claude Carriere on the 'art of slowness' and attitudes toward time in non- Western cultures.'

The work nonetheless contains much interesting information and speculative matter.

One small piece from the work, the great Paleontologist Goud is asked " How do you see earth looking in a thousand years time? '

His answer is humble and refreshing.

" I don't see it. The things one can actually predict are not very interesting. The sun will continue to shine.. But the history of human beings-and that's what your question is about - consists only of unpredictable events. What we are least weel- placed to predict is technological evolution. I can't predict what will happen in fifty years, let alone in a thousand.. Culture evolves in a Lamarckian way, in that it allows the transmission of acquired characteristics. We directly transmit what we have learned to subsequent generations, which is why technological evolution is ultra- powerful, cumulative , directional ..
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Simon Laub on March 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Surely, we can't talk and think enough
about the state of mankind!
But these are hazardous waters! Where should we begin
and where do we want to go from there? So, Having
Gould and Eco as guides seems like a clever start!
According to the book, the hebrew language has
no exact present tense?? The infinitely brief, the
very essense of the present, is not to be found - it
can be neither fixed, nor measured. It is therefore
completely justifiable, grammaticale speaking,
to leave out the present?
Yet, obviously, it is from the present we look at the
past and towards the future.
Stephen Jay Gould is always a pleasure to listen to -
and the right one to put time into perspective.
For a palaeontologist, like Gould, 7000 years
(timespand of human culture) is really no more than
the twinkling of an eye. So all we know is really in
the present - which hardly exist!
From this position we look out into concepts like
the eternity - which we obviously really can't grasp.
And into ourselfes were e.g. DNA was discovered as recently
as 1953. Mystery upon mystery.
So, we struggle to discover instances of regularity and
to fit them together with the help of stories. We throw
in a little religion "were religions do not
ask questions, they answer them". Still we are far
removed from any real "understanding".
And that is what these conversations are about.
With Umberto Eco and Stephen Jay Gould - it is
of course an ok read. But only an appetizer.
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