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The limits of interpretation—what a text can actually be said to mean—are of double interest to a semiotician whose own novels' intriguing complexity has provoked his readers into intense speculation as to their meaning. Eco's illuminating and frequently hilarious discussion ranges from Dante to The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, to Chomsky and Derrida, and bears all the hallmarks of his inimitable personal style. Three of the world's leading figures in philosophy, literary theory and criticism take up the challenge of entering into debate with Eco on the question of interpretation. Richard Rorty, Jonathan Culler and Christine Brooke-Rose each add a distinctive perspective on this contentious topic, contributing to a unique exchange of ideas among some of the foremost and most exciting theorists in the field.
Introduction: Interpretation terminable and interminable Stefan Collini; 1. Interpretation and history Umberto Eco; 2. Overinterpreting texts Umberto Eco; 3. Between author and text Umberto Eco; 4. The pragmatist's progress Richard Rorty; 5. In defence of overinterpretation Jonathan Culler; 6. Palimpsest history Christine Brook-Rose; 7. Reply Umberto Eco; Index.