Customer Reviews for

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2007

    Visually Stimulating if Nothing Else

    I picked this one up with the warning of my friend's experience in mind, that being that he had a difficult time getting past all of Mr. Eco's esoteric references to various pieces of fiction and former pop-culture ephemera. True, those references are there, but what emerges on the surface is a mystery story wherein the detective is also the murder AND the victim. In all, an incredible story, very well put together, though I would contend that it got a bit too preachy toward the end. Those words might have better served in a psychology, or new age text on memory, though again, the illustrations were a joy in themselves, and I enjoy looking back at them even though I have finished the book. I won't argue that it's a classic, nor that if you are a very busy person that it is necessarily worth your time, but you could do worse. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of Mr. Eco's other books, so I am unable to say whether this one holds true to some vein of greatness he might have tapped into, but I'm not turned off on reading his others if that can be construed as any sort of reccomendation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    A book of lists

    Eco must have challenged himself to see how many lists he could include in one book and how long he could make that book before the reader gives ups and quits. I didn't give up because I kept hoping there would be some wonderful reason for all the hours spent by the author in writing and by me reading. I admit the author is talented/gifted but still I was disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    ... sea of minutiae ...

    Imagine waking up and not remembering your life. Admittedly, this is something that I worry about all the time so I was intrigued when I read the back cover of The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana and found it to be the premise of the novel.

    The main character, Yambo, finds himself unable to remember anything about his life and attempts to piece together his past - a mystery of sorts. Throughout the novel, the reader is treated to an endless barrage of list upon list of songs, cartoon characters, magazines, books, works of art, etc.. I found this to be quite exasperating; however, I did finish the book. Why? I was hoping the book would become more interesting and I wanted to know what happened to Yambo. Mr. Eco was able to create a likable character floundering in a sea of minutiae. Sadly, this book was not for me; however, I will give Mr. Eco another read. I recommend his book for those that are nostalgic about Italian culture during World War II, the influence of propaganda, and interested in psychology.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

    I had heard so much hype about Umberto Eco, that I feel a bit disappointed with this book. Clearly it was good enough to finish. You will notice that most of the reviews I do are decent to good reviews, the reason being, if a book is bad, likely I won¿t waste my time on it and therefore it tends not to get reviewed. It would be unfair or me to do a review on a book I never finished. I finished this one, and by no means do I wish to say this was a bad book, but it certainly was less than I was expecting.<BR/><BR/>The premise is simple. A man wakes up one day, with absolutely no memory of his past, but strangely enough he seems to be able to recall everything he has ever read in his life. It is using these bits of information that he makes an attempt at piecing his past back together.<BR/><BR/>The approach is formidable, in my mind and the author certainly has the weapons to put it to action, but in the end the book still felt a bit longer than it needed to be. While it starts and finishes strong, the body of it at the center does feel like it drags, pulling out literary reference after literary reference, which can get tedious. On the other side, it does provide a good venue to get a glimpse of Italian (mostly, as the book is set in Italy) literature around the time of World War II and how propaganda seemed to touch all things printed.<BR/><BR/>Mixed, the good with the bad, I still think this book is worth it and the fact that it has pictures helps it move along a bit nicely.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2007

    Intelligently and elegantly crafted fiction

    An older book dealer suddenly and unexpectedly holds in his hands Shakespeare's first folio from 1623 and the shock of the discovery triggers a coma from which the narrator is attempting to recover his memory and re-discover himself. It's an intriguing premise as the book dealer revisits an attic to dig through boxes of his old books to learn what light they can shed on his remembrance of lost time. The books, dating from his childhood, trigger memories of life in Fascist Italy, as he re-learns who he is by what he has already read, including children's tales, religious works, advertising, comic books, paperback novels and war propoganda. I admire the intelligence of Eco, a scholar whose style is fluid, clear, articulate, erudite and engaging. I also admire the translation of the novel, which reads beautifully and flows naturally. This novel seems self-indulgent in places and has a great many cultural and historical references, which will elude readers outside Italy. Of all the works referenced in this novel, there didn't seem to be enough of the real masterpieces here. Perhaps, that's the tragedy that any reader may risk by overcommitting to reading time squandered upon the works of lesser literary lights. By the way, this novel is masterfully illustrated by the publisher. I was intrigued by Eco and am well into Foucault's Pendulum, which is more impressive for the wit and sheer intellectual luminosity of the writing but that's another story for another day. I may well end up giving Eco's list a run for its money, if the rest of his work is as good as these two very fine but not quite great novels. Time spent reading Eco clearly is time well spent.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2005

    As entertaining as an action movie.

    This is Eco's best work. It was thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. A real page turner.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005

    the mysterious flame is the book to read if you've never read an Eco book before

    This has got to be the greatest novel from our worlds greatest living writer right now. I loved this novel so much. It was so much funner than his last novel, Baudolino. Where Baudolino bogged you down with questions of faith and playing with legends of the 13th century, where most readers of today would be overwhelmed unless you were a history buff. However MFoQL retells somewhat the same story Eco shares, but this time around chooses the 20th century to retell his tale. This is a great form of meta-fiction. Where you had Borges in the forties making up fictions with fictions that already existed, well Eco is doing the same thing here. Eco has got the fictions of the thirties and forties, comics nonetheless, and recreates them in the last fifty pages or so to recreate a story of his own life. This is great fiction or meta-fiction. I really like Eco's style. This book I read in a matter of days. Once I started I could not stop becuase I wanted to know what the narrator was going to come up with next. The allusions that fill this novel are so ingenius that I found myself laughing out loud several times. And Ecos knack to retell the story of other lesser known books in his one big book is so great. So it was wonderful when he writes about Huysmans novel and retells it, or even when he speaks of Cyrano by Rostand, why, Eco was so good, he made me go out and want to read Cyrano on my own. And the way he brings in Italian history was so wonderful. I did not really know much of Italy in the second world war, but after reading this novel, I knew more than what I was taught in an American high school history course. This is a novel for those that want something different than what is being sold in the bookstores today. It is more accesible than Baudolino, about as fun as name of the rose when it comes to the old manuscripts Eco writes about, (though not as fun as Aristotle's lost book), and even has hints of Foucaults Pendulum when he mentions that he does not know if he just made all this up, that what if life was just a dream and he dreamt up Dante and world war II. A very good summer read from one of the greatest writers in the world, a good book to read first if you have never read any of his books. This is a great introduction to lead any reader to discover his other great labyrinths of the fictitious world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    From Comics To Eternity

    The reason for which this is my favorite of Umberto Eco's books is that, even being a non-Italian, I grew up in the Naples mansion of my grandfather, before I brushed up my Italian with BBC's accounts of WWII. I had therefore at hand the best tools for handling this delicious, although deeply thought, masterpiece. Everybody knows the subject, so I'll stick up to a few details. The first two sections of the book are hilarious and most entertaining, but in order to 'place himself into orbit', Eco is using one of the best known comics of Lyman Young, who died in 1994 at the age of 101... LA MISTERIOSA FIAMMA DELLA REGINA LOANA is nothing else than an adventure of Tim Tyler and Spud in Africa, where somebody tells them the story of that queen. But for the moviegoers, Loana is nothing else than SHE, a.k.a. known as SHE, AYESHA and HASH-A-MO-TEP... It was invented in 1887 by one of the masters of Victorian fantasies, H. Rider Haggard, and was brought to the screen several times. The second one, in 1935, starring Helen Gahagan and Randolph Scott, mesmerized me during long, long nights ... If you haven't read it (which I doubt, Henry Miller already classified it as one of 'the books in my life'), do so. However, this is not exactly my point, and, please don't read me wrong, I do not blame Eco for any offence to Haggard's copyrights. After all, he's not quoting Haggard, but Lyman Young, while his interest is in the 'flame', which kept Ayesha young and beautiful for 22 centuries. Enough to focus his interest in the life-beyond-it, as already attempted by Bob Fosse, in his 1978 masterpiece, ALL THAT JAZZ. Incidentally, Sandahl Bergman, starring in ALL THAT JAZZ, portrayed Ayesha in the 1985 version of the movies. The last of them, in 2001, is considered the worst movie of all times, including PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE... Umberto Eco's book really gives another chance to the myth of finding 'what's beyond the final point'... Harry Carasso, Paris, France

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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