Limits Of Interpretation, The / Edition 1

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Overview

"Eco’s essays read like letters from a friend, trying to share something he loves with someone he likes.... Read this brilliant, enjoyable, and possibly revolutionary book." —George J. Leonard, San Francisco Review of Books

"... a wealth of insight and instruction." —J. O. Tate, National Review

"If anyone can make [semiotics] clear, it's Professor Eco.... Professor Eco's theme deserves respect; language should be used to communicate more easily without literary border guards." —The New York Times

"The limits of interpretation mark the limits of our world. Umberto Eco's new collection of essays touches deftly on such matters." —Times Literary Supplement

"It is a careful and challenging collection of essays that broach topics rarely considered with any seriousness by literary theorists." —Diacritics

Umberto Eco focuses here on what he once called "the cancer of uncontrolled interpretation"—that is, the belief that many interpreters have gone too far in their domination of texts, thereby destroying meaning and the basis for communication.

Indiana University Press

In this new collection of essays, Eco focuses on what he calls the limits of interpretation, or, as he once noted in another context, "the cancer of uncontrolled interpretation." Readers of Eco's other work will find here all the ingredients with which they have become familiar--vast learning, an agile and exciting mind, good humor and a brilliance of insight.

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Editorial Reviews

Herbert Mitgang
Admirers of Mr. Eco's two original novels will look in vain for the same joy of fictional daring in "The Limits of Interpretation"...The essays in "The Limits of Interpretation" discuss television serials, archeology, Joyce's "Finnegans Wake," Pirandello's plays, art, fakes and forgeries. His observations on literature and television are particularly informative...Professor Eco devises a Model Reader who must have a double perception. He calls the first one naive and the second more appreciative...The title itself, "The Limits of Interpretation," contains the most important statement in the book. Professor Eco is saying that there is too much interpretation, that instead of sticking with the actual text, with an author's own words, some academics have gone much too far and imposed themselves upon a work. By calling for constraints, Professor Eco is conceding that the experts often exceed their authority and ability...Professor Eco's theme deserves respect; language should be used to communicate more easily without literary border guards. Some interpreters have made themselves more important than the people or things they are interpreting. -- New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253208699
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1991
  • Series: Advances in Semiotics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,410,283
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
Few cultural critics and novelists carry the scholarly heft of Umberto Eco, who was a noted historian and semiotician before he brought these sensibilites to bear on major novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. Whether he is deconstructing modern wax museums or spinning a 13th-century tale, he is always clever, stately and profound.

Biography

Back in the 1970s, long before the cyberpunk era or the Internet boom, an Italian academic was dissecting the elements of codes, information exchange and mass communication. Umberto Eco, chair of semiotics at the University of Bologna, developed a widely influential theory that continues to inform studies in linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies and critical theory.

Most readers, however, had never heard of him before the 1980 publication of The Name of the Rose, a mystery novel set in medieval Italy. Dense with historical and literary allusions, the book was a surprise international hit, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. Its popularity got an additional boost when it was made into a Hollywood movie starring Sean Connery. Eco followed his first bestseller with another, Foucault's Pendulum, an intellectual thriller that interweaves semiotic theory with a twisty tale of occult texts and world conspiracy.

Since then, Eco has shifted topics and genres with protean agility, producing fiction, academic texts, criticism, humor columns and children's books. As a culture critic, his interests encompass everything from comic books to computer operating systems, and he punctures avant-garde elitism and mass-media vacuity with equal glee.

More recently, Eco has ventured into a new field: ethics. Belief or Nonbelief? is a thoughtful exchange of letters on religion and ethics between Eco and Carlo Maria Martini, the Roman Catholic cardinal of Milan; Five Moral Pieces is a timely exploration of the concept of justice in an increasingly borderless world.

Eco also continues to write books on language, literature and semiotics for both popular and academic audiences. His efforts have netted him a pile of honorary degrees, the French Legion of Honor, and a place among the most widely read and discussed thinkers of our time.

Good To Know

Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, though in 2002 he was at Oxford University as a visiting lecturer. He has also taught at several top universities in the U.S., including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern.

Pressured by his father to become a lawyer, Eco studied law at the University of Turn before abandoning that course (against his father's wishes) and pursuing medieval philosophy and literature.

His studies led naturally to the setting of The Name of the Rose in the medieval period. The original tentative title was Murder in the Abbey.

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    1. Hometown:
      Bologna, Italy
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 5, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Alessandria, Italy
    1. Education:
      Ph.D., University of Turin, 1954

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Two Models of Interpretation
2. Unlimited Semiosis and Drift Pragmaticism vs. "Pragmatism"
3. Intentio Lectoris: The State of the Art
4. Small Worlds
5. Interpreting Serials
6. Interpreting Drama
7. Interpreting Animals
8. A Portrait of the Elder as a Young Pliny
9. Joyce, Semiosis, and Semiotics
10. Abduction in Uqbar
11. Pirandello Ridens
12. Fakes and Forgeries
13. Semantics, Pragmatics, and Text Semiotics
14. Presuppositions
15. On Truth: A Fiction

References
Index

Indiana University Press

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