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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana By Umberto Eco Hardcover – July 3, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hardcover (July 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004SIAEKG
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is about a man who loses his autobiographical memory, but retains his general knowledge, particularly of literature and popular culture. In an attempt to reconstruct his personality, he visits the attic of his childhood home, going through his old journals, the records he listened to, and especially the books he read during his formative years.

The novel traces his progression from Mickey Mouse comic books to Flash Gordon---"Gordon was different, he fought for liberty against a despot...And so Flash Gordon must have provided me with my first image of a hero"---to Dumas, to Hugo. This is, above all, a book about the important role of art in shaping personality, but implicitly about how our own personal choices determine the outcome as the protagonist tries to figure out how he went from accepting fascist propaganda growing up in Italy during the second World War to rejecting it. Unfortunately, Eco is not entirely consistent in his exploration of these themes, and the quasi-apocalyptic ending felt like a cop-out to me. Still, this is definitely worth reading at least once.
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I agree with the previous reviewer, he may have captured the essence of the book. I would like to add that as is usual in Eco's novels, the author's encyclopedic knowledge of history, literature and art is on full display, and it may seem a little daunting to some readers, but in this novel is it more accessible that in some of his other novels. The book (at least the hardcover edition) is beautifully illustrated, which really helps to focus on the story. The ending is completely unexpected and mystifying, and you really have to think what is happening - I won't say any more to avoid a spoiler. One last thing - it's a book about books, and will appeal to bibliophiles.
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