Interpretation and Overinterpretation

Interpretation and Overinterpretation

by Umberto Eco
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Interpretation and Overinterpretation is an excellent book, one of the most valuable contributions to literary theory of recent years." Philosophy and Literature

"Like Eco himself, Interpretation and Overinterpretation is bracingly down-to-earth, accessible though complex, profound but not pompous...Before you know it the book is history. Yet its first-rate ironies and trenchant writing linger." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"In Interpretation and Overinterpretation the many lives of Eco come together in a vibrant text full of wisdom and wit...interspersed with...theoretical considerations are fascinating anecdotal details about the writing of his two novels making the book must reading for Eco aficianados." The San Francisco Chronicle

"...offers a unique opportunity not only to read Eco at his finest, but also to observe him interacting with some renowned contemporary scholars...Reading the essays collected in this volume gives one a sense of being present at a rare meeting of the minds: a semiotician and best-selling novelist meets three of today's most powerful minds in philosophy, literary theory, and postmodern fiction...the careful arguments of this powerful theorist should provoke us into reevaluating the role of interpretation in literary criticism and theory." James M. Lang, Studies in the Humanities

"This book is densely charged and action packed." Antioch

Library Journal
Semioticist Eco and three scholars debate whether there are limits to the interpretations of a text and whether the author's intentions are relevant. Eco seeks to limit the degree to which texts can be interpreted, explains how overinterpretations can be recognized based on the intention of the work, and argues that the author of the text can rule out some interpretations. Rorty, a pragmatist, feels that texts should be able to be used for the readers' own purposes. Jonathan Culler, a literary theorist, defends ``overinterpretation,'' and critic Christine Brook-Rose digresses slightly by discussing what she calls ``palimpsest history.'' In the final lecture, Eco responds to Rorty's assertions. This is high-level literary theory, expressed brilliantly, appropriate primarily for academic and large public libraries.-- Ann Irvine, Kensington Park Lib., Md.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521425544
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
03/05/1992
Series:
Tanner Lectures in Human Values Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
164
Product dimensions:
5.43(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.39(d)

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