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Inventing the Enemy: Essays Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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"This selection underscores the writer’s profound erudition, lively wit, and passion for ideas of all shapes and sizes...these occasional writings touch upon potentially provocative topics of contemporary interest...Eco’s pleasure in such explorations is obvious and contagious."
"Thought provoking...nuanced...the collection amply shows off Eco's sophisticated, agile mind."
"Inventing the Enemy is definitely sublime"--San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
About the Author
More About the Author
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
Top Customer Reviews
But the author is also an excellent essayist, and his new title Inventing the Enemy: Essays does not disappoint. Always informative, often thought provoking, and frequently entertaining, this one will appeal to fans of this Italian novelist, philosopher, semiotician and literary critic. For those who are new to Umberto Eco and want a sampler, it's an excellent place to start.
The title essay here, "Inventing the Enemy" is the first, and ties in to a topic of his earlier novel, The Prague Cemetery, by illustrating how the presence of an enemy is essential to a nation's success. The first pages set the theme, as one finds early into this essay:
"Having an enemy is important to not only define our identity but also to provide us with an obstacle against which to measure our system of values and, in seeking to overcome it, to demonstrate our own worth.Read more ›
Just as I was in a café reading the first essay, "Inventing the Enemy" a young man with Planet Enemy walked by. In Eco's piece, from a lecture at Bologna University on May 15, 2008, he explores the notion of the enemy - who we, collectively and individually, regard as our historical enemies, but also our cultural enemies, whether real or perceived or invented. For example, he cites ancient to contemporary texts to illustrate his point, from Marcus Cicero's 63BC Orations against Catiline to Jean-Paul Satre's No Exit (1944) to George Orwell's Nineteen Eight-Four (1949), as well as historical events (global conflicts). He writes of people's intolerance of other races, lower classes, and of people who are different from "us." "The enemy is ugly," he states, and adds, "The need (for an enemy) is second nature even to a mild man of peace. In his case the image of the enemy is simply shifted from a human object to a natural or social force that in some way threatens us and has to be defeated, whether it be capitalistic exploitation, environmental pollution, or third-world hunger."
Basing our lives on "this Other" and finding "this Other intolerable because to some degree he is not us" we "create our own hell," Eco writes. The enemy springs from our own fears, insecurities, intolerances, and even virtuous causes. So when we see Planet Enemy on a T-shirt we remember our own fictional heroes and villains, but we may also reflect on good versus evil, and them against us.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A collection of essays without a theme is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- and in this case, Umberto Eco's offerings were simply too European for this American's... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Clay Kallam
It is harder than ever to write objectively about an author that you are blinded by. The source of this ocular diminution is an emotion at best, a revered thought at worst. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Fred Houpt
A series of too-esoteric opinions. I have read most of his books, but this one put me to sleepPublished 14 months ago by John S. Marr MD
Some of his insights are remarkable. I do think he sometimes stretches his points in these essays.Published 16 months ago by Glenn J Kuhnel
Eco of course is brilliant in all things and here in these essays no less. Please contemplate these various writings but especially the titular essay on how we invent our enemies... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Love Thy.Enemy
Difficult to review because it covers such a wide range of subjects, this compendium of "occasional writings," essays and lectures is nonetheless interesting and - as usual with... Read morePublished on June 24, 2013 by The Outsider
As allways, Umberto Eco shows deep knowlegde of history and filology to write a good collection of essays based on a series of lectures. Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by Henrique Cabrita (Brazil)
A mixed range of short essays, the strongest of which is the title one 'Inventing the Enemy', and for my geographical interest 'Imaginary Astronomies' in which historical... Read morePublished on March 20, 2013 by Miguel