The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

( 10 )

Overview

Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory - he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin. There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (228) from $1.99   
  • New (18) from $3.96   
  • Used (210) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 10 of 18 (2 pages)
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$3.96
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(65)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
2005 Hard cover New in fine dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 469 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

Ships from: Brea, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$4.99
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(3)

Condition: New
Eco, Umberto 2005 Hard cover Illustrated. Very good in very good dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 469 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: ... General/trade. In Stock. Ships from CA, United States. Absolutely Brand New. Never Read Copy in Excellent Condition. Pages are clean and bright and unmarked. Dust Jacket. Great for Book Club Discussions. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Malibu, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(2)

Condition: New
2005 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 469 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

Ships from: opelika, AL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.25
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(88)

Condition: New
2005-06-03 Hardcover New HARDCOVER, BRAND NEW COPY, Perfect Shape, No Black Remainder Mark, 417-209.

Ships from: La Grange, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.71
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(972)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0151011400 Friendly Return Policy. A+++ Customer Service!

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.71
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(726)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0151011400! ! ! ! BEST PRICES WITH A SERVICE YOU CAN RELY! ! !

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.71
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(297)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0151011400 XCITING PRICES JUST FOR YOU. Ships within 24 hours. Best customer service. 100% money back return policy.

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.71
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(445)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0151011400! ! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! ! ENJOY OUR BEST PRICES! ! ! Ships Fast. All standard orders delivered within 5 to 12 business days.

Ships from: Southampton, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$6.71
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(782)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0151011400 SERVING OUR CUSTOMERS WITH BEST PRICES. FROM A COMPANY YOU TRUST, HUGE SELECTION. RELIABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE! ! HASSLE FREE RETURN POLICY, SATISFACTION ... GURANTEED**** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$9.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(8)

Condition: New
Orlando 2005 Hard cover First edition. Illustrated. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 469 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: ... General/trade. First Edition stated with 1st printing "A" on copyright page. Publisher's statement: "Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory--he can remember the plot of every book he has every read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin. There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic nov Read more Show Less

Ships from: Louisville, KY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 10 of 18 (2 pages)
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

Yambo, a sixtyish rare-book dealer in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory - he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin. There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphical novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to capture one simple, innocent image: that of his first love.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After a heart attack, Giambattista "Yambo" Bodini, an aging rare book dealer, awakens in a Milan hospital suffering from retrograde amnesia. He no longer knows his own name; can't recognize his once-beloved wife or daughters; and can't retrieve anything about his childhood or his career. His cardiac event has robbed him of all personal memories, but in a strange reprieve, Yambo retains total recall of every book, magazine, comic strip, movie, and song that he has ever experienced. Returning to the country home where he spent his childhood, he rummages through its paper clutter, searching for some trace of himself. The incomparable imagination of Umberto Eco running at a full, graceful gallop. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly
Guidall gives a polished, Masterpiece Theatre-worthy sheen to Eco's odd, funny tale of Yambo, a man who discovers that while remembering the plots and details of all the books and films he's ever read or seen, he has no recollection of his own life or his name. His sonorous tones are soothing, lending Eco's prose a certain hushed aura, but there is something strangely off about the marriage of the Italian author's intellectual mystery story and Guidall's rolling British cadences. It is as if Guidall's Oxbridge enunciation were thought necessary to gussy up Eco's novel, something it is distinctly not in need of. Overemoting, Guidall turns Yambo into a ham actor rather than a slightly comic figure befuddled by a world full of mysterious and alluring signs. Guidall does do a solid job capturing the quicksilver changes in emotional temperature of the volatile protagonist, who is unable to comprehend the confusing new world he finds himself in. Even in this, though, Guidall is more like an actor professing befuddlement than someone actually finding himself disoriented by his mind's empty spaces. Simultaneous release with Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 21). (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Los Angeles Times
"An insidiously witty and provocative story" —Richard Eder
Library Journal
"The entertaining narrative fairly rips by. Another winner from Eco."
Kirkus Reviews
"A head-spinning tour through the corridors of history and popular culture, and one of this sly entertainer's liveliest yet."
Library Journal
Having lost all his memories except for every book and poem he has ever read, rare-books dealer Yambro flees to the old family home to reconstruct his life-which spools by here in graphic-novel format. With a nine-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An experience of "retrograde amnesia" stimulates journeys into both the darkened past and the undisclosed future-in the celebrated Italian polymath's fifth erudite doorstopper (Baudolino, 2002, etc.). Sixtyish book dealer Giambattista ("Yambo") Bodoni awakens in a Milan hospital after a heart attack that has erased all memory of his own life while leaving every scrap of every book, comic strip, pop song, movie and the like he has ever experienced perfectly intact. This splendid premise yields rich comedy in early pages that describe Yambo's bemused return to the home and family he no longer recognizes. Complications multiply when his wife Paola (a highly intelligent psychologist) persuades Yambo to retreat to Solaro, the country home owned by his grandfather (also a bookseller), where Yambo spent much of his childhood. Rummaging through old books and newspapers, letters, photographs, school notebooks and other memorabilia, Yambo retrieves details that partially explain his lifelong fascination with the phenomenon of fog and the concept of the "mysterious flame" that, he senses, quickens his imagination-and is "reminded" of Lila Saba, the girl he first loved. Then Eco throws things into another gear, as a "second incident" puts Yambo back in hospital, and into a coma in which his memory returns. We learn how he grew up in "Il Duce's" Italy, forsaking a religious conversion for the promises of sex, and surviving a perilous wartime adventure every bit the equal of his storybook heroes' exploits. Finally, attended by all the figures who graced his reading and dreaming, Yambo prepares himself for his reunion with Lila Saba. This charming story's considerable self-indulgence is largely vitiatedby dozens of wonderful period illustrations, the fun of trying to recognize numerous mangled literary and subliterary quotations, and its protagonist's ebullient (however damaged) sensibility. A head-spinning tour through the corridors of history and popular culture, and one of this sly entertainer's liveliest yet. Author tour
Bookpage

"Deeply cerebral, yet remarkably accessible...Eco delights his fans with an intellectual's take on nostalgia.."
Los Angeles Times - Richard Eder

"An insidiously witty and provocative story"
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA

"An insidiously witty and provocative story."--Los Angeles Times

"Brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated . . . As we accompany Yambo on his trail of self-discovery, we see Umberto Eco, one of the great minds of our era, reveal a little of his heart."--Chicago Sun-Times

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151011407
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/3/2005
  • Edition description: Illustrate
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco
UMBERTO ECO is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the best-selling author of numerous novels and essays. He lives in Italy.

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.

Read More Show Less
    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

Read an Excerpt


1. The Cruelest Month

"And what's your name?"

"Wait, it's on the tip of my tongue."

That is how it all began.

I felt as if I had awoke from a long sleep, and yet I was still suspended in a milky gray. Or else I was not awake, but dreaming. It was a strange dream, void of images, crowded with sounds. As if I could not see, but could hear voices that were telling me what I should have been seeing. And they were telling me that I could not see anything yet, only a haziness along the canals where the landscape dissolved. Bruges, I said to myself, I was in Bruges. Had I ever been to Bruges the Dead? Where fog hovers between the towers like incense dreaming? A gray city, sad as a tombstone with chrysanthemums, where mist hangs over the façades like tapestries...

My soul was wiping the streetcar windows so it could drown in the moving fog of the headlamps. Fog, my uncontaminated sister...A thick, opaque fog, which enveloped the noises and called up shapeless phantoms...Finally I came to a vast chasm and could see a colossal figure, wrapped in a shroud, its face the immaculate whiteness of snow. My name is Arthur Gordon Pym.

I was chewing fog. Phantoms were passing, brushing me, melting. Distant bulbs glimmered like will-o'-the-wisps in a graveyard...

Someone is walking by my side, noiselessly, as if in bare feet, walking without heels, without shoes, without sandals. A patch of fog grazes my cheek, a band of drunks is shouting down there, down by the ferry. The ferry? It is not me talking, it is the voices.

The fog comes on little cat feet...There was a fog that seemed to have taken the world away.

Yet every so often it was as if I had opened my eyes and were seeing flashes. I could hear voices: "Strictly speaking, Signora, it isn't a coma....No, don't think about flat encephalograms, for heaven's sake....There's reactivity...."

Someone was aiming a light into my eyes, but after the light it was dark again. I could feel the puncture of a needle, somewhere. "You see, there's withdrawal..."

Maigret plunges into a fog so dense that he can't even see where he's stepping....The fog teems with human shapes, swarms with an intense, mysterious life. Maigret? Elementary, my dear Watson, there are ten little Indians, and the hound of the Baskervilles vanishes into the fog.

The gray vapor was gradually losing its grayness of tint, the heat of the water was extreme, and its milky hue was more evident than ever...And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us.

I heard people talking around me, wanted to shout to let them know I was there. There was a continuous drone, as though I were being devoured by celibate machines with whetted teeth. I was in the penal colony. I felt a weight on my head, as if they had slipped the iron mask onto my face. I thought I saw sky blue lights.

"There's asymmetry of the pupillary diameters."

I had fragments of thoughts, clearly I was waking up, but I could not move. If only I could stay awake. Was I sleeping again? Hours, days, centuries?

The fog was back, the voices in the fog, the voices about the fog. Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern! What language is that? I seemed to be swimming in the sea, I felt I was near the beach but was unable to reach it. No one saw me, and the tide was carrying me away again.

Please tell me something, please touch me. I felt a hand on my forehead. Such relief. Another voice: "Signora, there are cases of patients who suddenly wake up and walk away under their own power."

Someone was disturbing me with an intermittent light, with the hum of a tuning fork. It was as if they had put a jar of mustard under my nose, then a clove of garlic. The earth has the odor of mushrooms.

Other voices, but these from within: long laments of the steam engine, priests shapeless in the fog walking single file toward San Michele in Bosco.

The sky is made of ash. Fog up the river, fog down the river, fog biting the hands of the little match girl. Chance people on the bridges to the Isle of Dogs look into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging under the brown fog...I had not thought death had undone so many. The odor of train station and soot.

Another light, softer. I seem to hear, through the fog, the sound of bagpipes starting up again on the heath.

Another long sleep, perhaps. Then a clearing, like being in a glass of water and anisette...

He was right in front of me, though I still saw him as a shadow. My head felt muddled, as if I were waking up after having drunk too much. I think I managed to murmur something weakly, as if I were in that moment beginning to talk for the first time: "Posco reposco flagito-do they take the future infinitive? Cujus regio ejus religio...is that the Peace of Augsburg or the Defenestration of Prague?" And then: "Fog too on the Apennine stretch of the Autosole Highway, between Roncobilaccio and Barberino del Mugello..."

He smiled sympathetically. "But now open your eyes all the way and try to look around. Do you know where we are?" Now I could see him better. He was wearing a white-what is it called?-coat. I looked around and was even able to move my head: the room was sober and clean, a few small pieces of pale metal furniture, and I was in bed, with a tube stuck in my arm. From the window, through the lowered blinds, came a blade of sunlight, spring on all sides shines in the air, and in the fields rejoices. I whispered: "We are...in a hospital and you...you're a doctor. Was I sick?"

"Yes, you were sick. I'll explain later. But you've regained consciousness now. That's good. I'm Dr. Gratarolo. Forgive me if I ask you some questions. How many fingers am I holding up?"

"That's a hand and those are fingers. Four of them. Are there four?"

"That's right. And what's six times six?"

"Thirty-six, of course." Thoughts were rumbling through my head, but they came as if of their own accord. "The sum of the areas of the squares...built on the two legs...is equal to the area of the square built on the hypotenuse."

"Well done. I think that's the Pythagorean theorem, but I got a C in math in high school..."

"Pythagoras of Samos. Euclid's elements. The desperate loneliness of parallel lines that never meet."

"Your memory seems to be in excellent condition. And by the way, what's your name?"

That is where I hesitated. And yet I did have it on the tip of my tongue. After a moment I offered the most obvious reply.

"My name is Arthur Gordon Pym."

"That isn't your name."

Of course, Pym was someone else. He did not come back again. I tried to come to terms with the doctor.

"Call me...Ishmael?"

"Your name is not Ishmael. Try harder."

A word. Like running into a wall. Saying Euclid or Ishmael was easy, like saying Jack and Jill went up a hill. Saying who I was, on the other hand, was like turning around and finding that wall. No, not a wall; I tried to explain. "It doesn't feel like something solid, it's like walking through fog."

"What's the fog like?" he asked.

"The fog on the bristling hills climbs drizzling up the sky, and down below the mistral howls and whitens the sea...What's the fog like?"

"You put me at a disadvantage-I'm only a doctor. And besides, this is April, I can't show you any fog. Today's the twenty-fifth of April."

April is the cruelest month."

"I'm not very well read, but I think that's a quotation. You could say that today's the Day of Liberation. Do you know what year this is?"

"It's definitely after the discovery of America..."

"You don't remember a date, any kind of date, before...your reawakening?"

"Any date? Nineteen hundred and forty-five, end of World War Two."

"Not close enough. No, today is the twenty-fifth of April, 1991. You were born, I believe, at the end of 1931, all of which means you're pushing sixty."

"Fifty-nine and a half. Not even."

"Your calculative faculties are in excellent shape. But you have had, how shall I say, an incident. You've come through it alive, and I congratulate you on that. But clearly something is still wrong. A slight case of retrograde amnesia. Not to worry, they sometimes don't last long. But please be so kind as to answer a few more questions. Are you married?"

"You tell me."

"Yes, you're married, to an extremely likable lady named Paola, who has been by your side night and day. Just yesterday evening I insisted she go home, otherwise she would have collapsed. Now that you're awake, I'll call her. But I'll have to prepare her, and before that we need to do a few more tests."

"What if I mistake her for a hat?"

"Excuse me?"

"There was a man who mistook his wife for a hat."

"Oh, the Sacks book. A classic case. I see you're up on your reading. But you don't have his problem, otherwise you'd have already mistaken me for a stove. Don't worry, you may not recognize her, but you won't mistake her for a hat. But back to you. Now then, your name is Giambattista Bodoni. Does that tell you anything?"

Now my memory was soaring like a glider among mountains and valleys, toward a limitless horizon. "Giambattista Bodoni was a famous typographer. But I'm sure that's not me. I could as easily be Napoleon as Bodoni."

"Why did you say Napoleon?"

"Because Bodoni was from the Napoleonic era, more or less. Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Corsica, first consul, marries Josephine, becomes emperor, conquers half of Europe, loses at Waterloo, dies on St. Helena, May 5, 1821, he was as if unmoving."

"I'll have to bring my encyclopedia next time, but from what I remember, your memory is good. Except you don't remember who you are."

"Is that serious?"

"To be honest, it's not so good. But you aren't the first person something like this has happened to, and we'll get through it."

© 2004 RCS Libri S.p.A.
English translation copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Brock

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

PART ONE: THE INCIDENT
1.The Cruelest Month 3
2.The Murmur of Mulberry Leaves 28
3.Someone May Pluck Your Flower 45
4.Alone through City Streets I Go 64

PART TWO: PAPER MEMORY
5.Clarabelle's Treasure 81
6.Il Nuovissimo Melzi 90
7.Eight Days in an Attic 117
8.When the Radio 159
9.But Pippo Doesn't Know 178
10.The Alchemist's Tower 212
11.Up There at Capocabana 227
12.Blue Skies Are on the Way 257
13.The Pallid Little Maiden 272
14.The Hotel of the Three Roses 295

PART THREE: OI NO?TOI
15.You're Back at Last, Friend Mist! 301
16.The Wind Is Whistling 325
17.The Provident Young Man 379
18.Lovely Thou Art as the Sun 406
sources of citations and Illustrations 451
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

1. The Cruelest Month

"And what's your name?"

"Wait, it's on the tip of my tongue."

That is how it all began.

I felt as if I had awoke from a long sleep, and yet I was still suspended in a milky gray. Or else I was not awake, but dreaming. It was a strange dream, void of images, crowded with sounds. As if I could not see, but could hear voices that were telling me what I should have been seeing. And they were telling me that I could not see anything yet, only a haziness along the canals where the landscape dissolved. Bruges, I said to myself, I was in Bruges. Had I ever been to Bruges the Dead? Where fog hovers between the towers like incense dreaming? A gray city, sad as a tombstone with chrysanthemums, where mist hangs over the façades like tapestries...

My soul was wiping the streetcar windows so it could drown in the moving fog of the headlamps. Fog, my uncontaminated sister...A thick, opaque fog, which enveloped the noises and called up shapeless phantoms...Finally I came to a vast chasm and could see a colossal figure, wrapped in a shroud, its face the immaculate whiteness of snow. My name is Arthur Gordon Pym.

I was chewing fog. Phantoms were passing, brushing me, melting. Distant bulbs glimmered like will-o'-the-wisps in a graveyard...

Someone is walking by my side, noiselessly, as if in bare feet, walking without heels, without shoes, without sandals. A patch of fog grazes my cheek, a band of drunks is shouting down there, down by the ferry. The ferry? It is not me talking, it is the voices.

The fog comes on little cat feet...There was a fog that seemed to have taken the world away.

Yet every so often itwas as if I had opened my eyes and were seeing flashes. I could hear voices: "Strictly speaking, Signora, it isn't a coma....No, don't think about flat encephalograms, for heaven's sake....There's reactivity...."

Someone was aiming a light into my eyes, but after the light it was dark again. I could feel the puncture of a needle, somewhere. "You see, there's withdrawal..."

Maigret plunges into a fog so dense that he can't even see where he's stepping....The fog teems with human shapes, swarms with an intense, mysterious life. Maigret? Elementary, my dear Watson, there are ten little Indians, and the hound of the Baskervilles vanishes into the fog.

The gray vapor was gradually losing its grayness of tint, the heat of the water was extreme, and its milky hue was more evident than ever...And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us.

I heard people talking around me, wanted to shout to let them know I was there. There was a continuous drone, as though I were being devoured by celibate machines with whetted teeth. I was in the penal colony. I felt a weight on my head, as if they had slipped the iron mask onto my face. I thought I saw sky blue lights.

"There's asymmetry of the pupillary diameters."

I had fragments of thoughts, clearly I was waking up, but I could not move. If only I could stay awake. Was I sleeping again? Hours, days, centuries?

The fog was back, the voices in the fog, the voices about the fog. Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern! What language is that? I seemed to be swimming in the sea, I felt I was near the beach but was unable to reach it. No one saw me, and the tide was carrying me away again.

Please tell me something, please touch me. I felt a hand on my forehead. Such relief. Another voice: "Signora, there are cases of patients who suddenly wake up and walk away under their own power."

Someone was disturbing me with an intermittent light, with the hum of a tuning fork. It was as if they had put a jar of mustard under my nose, then a clove of garlic. The earth has the odor of mushrooms.

Other voices, but these from within: long laments of the steam engine, priests shapeless in the fog walking single file toward San Michele in Bosco.

The sky is made of ash. Fog up the river, fog down the river, fog biting the hands of the little match girl. Chance people on the bridges to the Isle of Dogs look into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging under the brown fog...I had not thought death had undone so many. The odor of train station and soot.

Another light, softer. I seem to hear, through the fog, the sound of bagpipes starting up again on the heath.

Another long sleep, perhaps. Then a clearing, like being in a glass of water and anisette...



He was right in front of me, though I still saw him as a shadow. My head felt muddled, as if I were waking up after having drunk too much. I think I managed to murmur something weakly, as if I were in that moment beginning to talk for the first time: "Posco reposco flagito-do they take the future infinitive? Cujus regio ejus religio...is that the Peace of Augsburg or the Defenestration of Prague?" And then: "Fog too on the Apennine stretch of the Autosole Highway, between Roncobilaccio and Barberino del Mugello..."

He smiled sympathetically. "But now open your eyes all the way and try to look around. Do you know where we are?" Now I could see him better. He was wearing a white-what is it called?-coat. I looked around and was even able to move my head: the room was sober and clean, a few small pieces of pale metal furniture, and I was in bed, with a tube stuck in my arm. From the window, through the lowered blinds, came a blade of sunlight, spring on all sides shines in the air, and in the fields rejoices. I whispered: "We are...in a hospital and you...you're a doctor. Was I sick?"

"Yes, you were sick. I'll explain later. But you've regained consciousness now. That's good. I'm Dr. Gratarolo. Forgive me if I ask you some questions. How many fingers am I holding up?"

"That's a hand and those are fingers. Four of them. Are there four?"

"That's right. And what's six times six?"

"Thirty-six, of course." Thoughts were rumbling through my head, but they came as if of their own accord. "The sum off the areas of the squares...built on the two legs...is equal to the area of the square built on the hypotenuse."

"Well done. I think that's the Pythagorean theorem, but I got a C in math in high school..."

"Pythagoras of Samos. Euclid's elements. The desperate loneliness of parallel lines that never meet."

"Your memory seems to be in excellent condition. And by the way, what's your name?"



That is where I hesitated. And yet I did have it on the tip of my tongue. After a moment I offered the most obvious reply.

"My name is Arthur Gordon Pym."

"That isn't your name."

Of course, Pym was someone else. He did not come back again. I tried to come to terms with the doctor.

"Call me...Ishmael?"

"Your name is not Ishmael. Try harder."

A word. Like running into a wall. Saying Euclid or Ishmael was easy, like saying Jack and Jill went up a hill. Saying who I was, on the other hand, was like turning around and finding that wall. No, not a wall; I tried to explain. "It doesn't feel like something solid, it's like walking through fog."

"What's the fog like?" he asked.

"The fog on the bristling hills climbs drizzling up the sky, and down below the mistral howls and whitens the sea...What's the fog like?"

"You put me at a disadvantage-I'm only a doctor. And besides, this is April, I can't show you any fog. Today's the twenty-fifth of April."

April is the cruelest month."

"I'm not very well read, but I think that's a quotation. You could say that today's the Day of Liberation. Do you know what year this is?"

"It's definitely after the discovery of America..."

"You don't remember a date, any kind of date, before...your reawakening?"

"Any date? Nineteen hundred and forty-five, end of World War Two."

"Not close enough. No, today is the twenty-fifth of April, 1991. You were born, I believe, at the end of 1931, all of which means you're pushing sixty."

"Fifty-nine and a half. Not even."

"Your calculative faculties are in excellent shape. But you have had, how shall I say, an incident. You've come through it alive, and I congratulate you on that. But clearly something is still wrong. A slight case of retrograde amnesia. Not to worry, they sometimes don't last long. But please be so kind as to answer a few more questions. Are you married?"

"You tell me."

"Yes, you're married, to an extremely likable lady named Paola, who has been by your side night and day. Just yesterday evening I insisted she go home, otherwise she would have collapsed. Now that you're awake, I'll call her. But I'll have to prepare her, and before that we need to do a few more tests."

"What if I mistake her for a hat?"

"Excuse me?"

"There was a man who mistook his wife for a hat."

"Oh, the Sacks book. A classic case. I see you're up on your reading. But you don't have his problem, otherwise you'd have already mistaken me for a stove. Don't worry, you may not recognize her, but you won't mistake her for a hat. But back to you. Now then, your name is Giambattista Bodoni. Does that tell you anything?"

Now my memory was soaring like a glider among mountains and valleys, toward a limitless horizon. "Giambattista Bodoni was a famous typographer. But I'm sure that's not me. I could as easily be Napoleon as Bodoni."

"Why did you say Napoleon?"

"Because Bodoni was from the Napoleonic era, more or less. Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Corsica, first consul, marries Josephine, becomes emperor, conquers half of Europe, loses at Waterloo, dies on St. Helena, May 5, 1821, he was as if unmoving."

"I'll have to bring my encyclopedia next time, but from what I remember, your memory is good. Except you don't remember who you are."

"Is that serious?"

"To be honest, it's not so good. But you aren't the first person something like this has happened to, and we'll get through it."


© 2004 RCS Libri S.p.A.
English translation copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Brock

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)