History of Beauty

History of Beauty

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by Umberto Eco
     
 

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Now in paperback, Umberto Eco’s groundbreaking and much-acclaimed first illustrated book has been a critical success since its first publication in 2004. What is beauty? Umberto Eco, among Italy’s finest and most important contemporary thinkers, explores the nature, the meaning, and the very history of the idea of beauty in Western culture. The profound

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Overview

Now in paperback, Umberto Eco’s groundbreaking and much-acclaimed first illustrated book has been a critical success since its first publication in 2004. What is beauty? Umberto Eco, among Italy’s finest and most important contemporary thinkers, explores the nature, the meaning, and the very history of the idea of beauty in Western culture. The profound and subtle text is lavishly illustrated with abundant examples of sublime painting and sculpture and lengthy quotations from writers and philosophers. This is the first paperback edition of History of Beauty, making this intellectual and philosophical journey with one of the world’s most acclaimed thinkers available in a more compact and affordable format.

Editorial Reviews

Beauty, as Aubrey Beardsley once reminded William Butler Yeats, is difficult. Professor Umberto Eco agrees. Having probed the roots and tendrils of aesthetics for four decades, the Italian novelist and philosopher understands its complexities. In History of Beauty, he offers reponses to seemingly eternal questions: What is beauty? What is art? What is taste and fashion? Why do habitually associate ethics with aesthetics? A fascinating inquiry into a perennial topic.
Publishers Weekly
This inspired book begins, after a little throat-clearing, with 11 verso-recto "comparative tables"-sets of contact-sheet-like illustrations that trace representations of "Nude Venus" and "Nude Adonis" (clothed sets follow) as well as Madonna, Jesus, "Kings" and "Queens" over thousands of years, revealing with wonderful brevity the scope of the task Eco has set for the book. What follows is a dense, delectable tour through the history of art as it struggled to cope with beauty's many forms. The text, while rigorous in its inquiries, is heavy on abstractions, which get amplified by stiff translation: "In short, the question was how to retable the debate about the Classical antitheses of thought, in order to reelaborate them within the framework of a dynamic relationship." The selections, however, are breathtaking-300 color illustrations, from Praxiteles to Pollock-and they grant the text the freedom to delve into their complex mysteries. Eco's categories for doing so (e.g., "Poets and Impossible Loves") and his historical breadth in elaborating them are creative and impressive respectively. Long quotations ranging from Plotinus and Petrarch to Xenophon and Zola allow each era to speak for itself, while Eco links them with his own epoch-leaping connections. Seen in terms of a timeless debate on the form and meaning of beauty, masterpieces like Titian's Sacred and Profane Love or Cranach's Venus with Cupid Stealing Honey seem, if possible, even more immediate, and related to our own amorous profanities and thefts. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847835300
Publisher:
Rizzoli
Publication date:
09/21/2010
Pages:
440
Sales rank:
260,525
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco is the author of many best-selling novels, including The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, as well as many acclaimed nonfiction works. He is currently professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Bologna, Italy
Date of Birth:
January 5, 1932
Date of Death:
February 19, 2016
Place of Birth:
Alessandria, Italy
Education:
Ph.D., University of Turin, 1954

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