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Misreadings Paperback – May 7, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These 15 essays by semiotician and novelist Eco ( The Name of the Rose ) originally appeared in the 1960s and early 1970s in an Italian literary magazine; they appear here in English translation for the first time. The essays are actually satires, pastiches of publishing, art and literature. Typical is the first piece, a parody of Nabokov's Lolita in which the protagonist becomes obsessed with a white-haired old woman. In a work on Columbus's voyage, revised for American publication, the admiral's landing is covered by the likes of Dan Rather, Alastair Cook, MacNeil/Lehrer and Johnny Carson. Publishers' readers' reports for Don Quixote , Dante's Divine Comedy , even the Bible, reject them all. In admittedly eccentric reviews, Eco critiques the design of Italian currency. Although basically amusing, many of Eco's essays have a smug, precious sensibility about them. They seem the product of one who considers himself superior to his material, a dangerous trap for the satirist. Further, Eurocentric references, many of them still obscure despite revision, will leave readers wondering if they're missing most of the jokes.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Categorized as essays, these 15 pastiches by Eco ( Foucault's Pendulum , LJ 9/1/89) were written between 1959 and 1972 and were meant to be amusing. Most appeared first in the Italian vanguard literary magazine Il Verri , and many were collected in a separate volume in 1963. Parody, Eco notes in the introduction, is linked to the topical, i.e., we can relate directly to Sophocles but need footnotes to find our way in Aristophanes (whom we may not find funny). Eco's proviso may account for some of the sophomoric and strained elements in these pastiches. Weaver, the doyen of U.S. translators of Italian, is always astute in finding appropriate cultural substitutions or inserting discreet footnotes. What he lacked license to do was remove the complacent sexism, ageism, and machismo that mark these texts as late Sixties insensitivity. The only successful pastiche is "Regretfully We Are Returning Your... ," in which a publisher's reader rejects the Bible, Homer, Dante, Joyce....
- Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY-Binghamton
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest / Harcourt Brace; 1st edition (May 7, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156607522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156607520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,646 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a collection of short stories which are most definitely satire for the intelligentsia. Eco's mind is a database of cultural references, linguistic foolery and razor-sharp wit.

The stories include "Granita," a retelling of Nabokov's famous tale with a geriatric object of desire and "The Discovery of America" which chronicles Columbus' 1492 landing on terra firma via the newscasting techniques used for man's first walk on the moon.

Eco's creativity knows no bounds. As with his other works, an understanding of topics as diverse as Adorno's theories and a Who's Who in the Greek pantheon of classical philsophers is definitely helpful, but not required. Even if the reader does not recognize all the references, she will undoubtedly recognize the talents of one of the greatest authors of our time. If you like to think and read at the same time, try some Eco.
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Format: Paperback
This is a mirthful little volume by Umberto Eco, author of some very long novels, including The Name of the Rose. Misreadings is a collection of fifteen small pieces of fun. Eco was hired, in 1959, to write a monthly column for Il Verro, an Italian literary magazine. He began submitting parodies of the ponderous contents of the magazine to the magazine itself. It says something of the editors that they published them all. One is a set of internal critiques, supposedly from a publishing company, on why they're rejecting certain books as unsuitable, including the Bible ("I must say the first few hundred pages of this manuscript really hooked me...sex (lots of it), murders, massacres and so on...but as I kept reading, I realized this is actually an anthology, involving several writers...I'd suggest getting the rights to just the first few chapters, but using a different title. How about Red Sea Desperadoes?"), Homer's Odyssey ("...remember in his first book, how the Achilles-Patroclus story, with its not-so-latent homosexuality got us into trouble?"), and a dozen or so others, including refusal letters to Cervantes and Dante. Another piece is an account of Columbus discovering America, accompanied by modern-day news media and their attendant host of experts, in this case including Leonardo da Vinci, who gets short-shrift from the reporters when he becomes too technical.

Any of the selections can be read in ten or fifteen minutes. The satire is rich, at times thick, written to mock scholarship which labors on the ephemeral and a society which concerns itself with the trivial. But I read it with such pleasure partly because the satire and mockery isn't bitter or angry or malicious. Eco's Misreadings holds up a mirror and lets us see ourselves; he helps us see how silly we can sometimes be when we make more of things than they are. I'm going to put this book on the bookshelf in my bedroom, so I can pick it up frequently for a refreshing sip.
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Format: Paperback
Eco, as is his form, provides a series of entertaining and poignant stories covering topics such as blue-jeans, media reports from the discovery of America and conversations with God. If you enjoy the range and depth of Travels in Hyperreality, then you will enjoy this book.
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Eco makes my brain twist, explore and discover. His intelligent facility with words cannot be matched. I have been reading his writings for many years now, as a replacement for not being able to study with him.
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I bought this book because I saw a chapter in which great classics of world- literature, the Bible, Homer, Quixote, Divine Comedy etc. are , as it were , critiqued by a reader at a publishing house who rejects them. I thought this might be interesting and amusing. There are some insights, but once one has the idea of the piece it is predictable and dull. Other pieces give the same kind of feeling. The Lolita parody in which the love- object is an old woman should have been confined to one- sentence.

Perhaps I am not being fair to Eco, but the kind of humor through parody and pastiche which makes up this book simply does not much appeal to me.

All of his great learning and knowledge seem to me here to be engaged in an exercise of 'playing with himself' which gives the reader little indeed.
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