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On Ugliness Hardcover – October 30, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Italian literary and cultural critic Eco opens this visually dazzling and intellectually provocative companion volume to his History of Beauty (2004) by arguing that ugliness has been defined through the ages only as the opposite of beauty. Eco attempts to go further in this analysis of ugliness—part history, part cultural criticism—which echoes premises from his previous survey: a correspondence between the public's tastes and artists' sensibilities must be assumed, and cultural and historical contexts determine how both beauty and ugliness are portrayed and received. Each chapter juxtaposes images with brief excerpts from texts through the centuries, and Eco's choices are superb: a discussion of industrial ugliness includes excerpts from Baudelaire, DeLillo and the Eiffel Tower's originally negative reception; the delightful chapter on kitsch includes Hermann Broch and Eco's own hilarious description of California's Madonna Inn. Eco's thoughts on ugliness in contemporary culture are the most interesting: in an age of goth and cyborg aesthetics, the boundaries between beauty and ugliness are perhaps permanently blurred. This unusual and eclectic study will appeal to cultural and art historians as well as to the general reader with an interest in a rarely examined topic. 300 color illus.
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Review

“Most art books warrant a look and, perhaps, a place on your coffee table; this perversely compelling work is meant to be read.” ~Details

“…visually dazzling and intellectually provocative…Eco’s choices are superb…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

On Ugliness provides a wealth of information for more casual readers as well as for those hoping to delve further into this subject.” ~Choice Magazine

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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
48 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2013
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Top international reviews

Nicholas Casley
4.0 out of 5 stars "To correct the relativist perspective"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2008
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Nils
3.0 out of 5 stars so that's nice.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars don't miss it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 9, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2017
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3.0 out of 5 stars .
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2020
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Bell Tower
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and the Beast
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 16, 2014
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Edward Nobes
5.0 out of 5 stars Companion volume : On Beauty? On Ugliness wins hands down.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2014
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Eder Trezza
3.0 out of 5 stars Boas reflexões mas recheadas de textos cansativos.
Reviewed in Brazil on November 10, 2017
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hans Tönies MD
5.0 out of 5 stars bessere Bilder als in "beauty" guter Eco-Text
Reviewed in Germany on September 25, 2015
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Jaher
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2012
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Quintus Horatius Flaccus
4.0 out of 5 stars the master of odd viewpoints does not disappoint
Reviewed in Canada on May 8, 2013
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Nadia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on April 18, 2016
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