Serendipities: Language and Lunacy

Overview


Serendipities is a careful unraveling of the fabulous and the false, a brilliant exposition of how unanticipated truths often spring from false ideas. From Leibniz's belief that the I Ching illustrated the principles of calculus to Marco Polo's mistaking a rhinoceros for a unicorn, Umberto Eco offers a dazzling tour of intellectual history, illuminating the ways in which we project the familiar onto the strange to make sense of the world. Uncovering layers of mistakes that have shaped human history, Eco offers ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers and in stores.

Pick Up In Store Near You

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $3.94   
  • Used (39) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$3.94
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(35)

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
0156007517 Harvest paperback

Ships from: Grand Rapids, MI

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$3.95
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(91)

Condition: New
New Book.

Ships from: Deming, WA

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 2010

Feedback rating:

(23)

Condition: New
Paperback New First Harvest Edition-1999-Paperback. Author: Umberto Eco. Publisher: Harvest Books. This book is NEW and UNREAD. Outer cover perfect, spine tight and stiff, ... edges spotless, text bright, crisp and unmarked. -A brilliant illumination of intellectual history. -We ship immediately. Excellent customer service. Satisfaction guaranteed. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Ithaca, NY

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$8.50
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(13)

Condition: New
Trade paperback First edition. New. No dust jacket as issued. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 144 p. Audience: General/trade.

Ships from: San Jose, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Serendipities: Language and Lunacy

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$16.49
BN.com price
(Save 45%)$29.99 List Price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview


Serendipities is a careful unraveling of the fabulous and the false, a brilliant exposition of how unanticipated truths often spring from false ideas. From Leibniz's belief that the I Ching illustrated the principles of calculus to Marco Polo's mistaking a rhinoceros for a unicorn, Umberto Eco offers a dazzling tour of intellectual history, illuminating the ways in which we project the familiar onto the strange to make sense of the world. Uncovering layers of mistakes that have shaped human history, Eco offers with wit and clarity such instances as Columbus's voyage to the New World, the fictions that grew around the Rosicrucians and Knights Templar, and the linguistic endeavors to recreate the language of Babel, to show how serendipities can evolve out of mistakes. With erudition, anecdotes, and scholarly rigor, this new collection of essays is sure to entertain and enlighten any reader with a passion for the curious history of languages and ideas.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Examines, with wit and elegance, some of the many cases in which a mistaken belief has led to a sound result . . . Delightful."-The Atlantic Monthly
"Rich in historical anecdotes . . . Throughout, his treatments are informative, intellectually sophisticated, and thoroughly entertaining."-Library Journal
From the Publisher

"Examines, with wit and elegance, some of the many cases in which a mistaken belief has led to a sound result . . . Delightful."-The Atlantic Monthly
"Rich in historical anecdotes . . . Throughout, his treatments are informative, intellectually sophisticated, and thoroughly entertaining."-Library Journal
Scott Gordon
Eco cajoles his readers to go out and learn more, and perhaps, to disagree with him.
Atlantic Monthly
Erudite, wide-ranging, and slyly humorous. . . . The literary examples Eco employs range from Dante to Dumas, from Sterne to Spillane. His text is thought-provoking, often outright funny, and full of surprising juxtapositions.
Atlantic Monthly
Eco examines, with wit and elegance, some of the many cases in which a mistaken belief has led to a sound result....Readers who enjoy [Eco's] grace of style and mastery of odd anecdote will find his reflections delightful.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Consider the platypus. With its famous molelike body carrying a beaver's tail and a duck's beak, the beast confounded the first Western scientists who studied it in 1798. Was it a mammal or a reptile? Did it lay eggs? Was it just a taxonomic hoax? The platypus eventually found its rightful place in the animal kingdom, but as Eco (Travels in Hyperreality, etc.) shows in these challenging essays, the questions it raised about language and perception still animate some sharply contested semiotic debates. Writing with his customary keenness of intellect, Eco ranges widely over metaphysical terrain, drawing on Aristotle, Heidegger and C.S. Peirce to inform his discussions. Revising aspects of Kant's philosophy in terms of cognitive studies, Eco ponders how we identify the things around us and argues that meaning in the world is ultimately contractual and negotiable. When Aztecs first saw horses ridden by Spanish conquistadors, for example, they used their previous knowledge to surmise that the invaders were riding deer. In another example, Eco investigates how we can recognize a Bach suite for solo cello, even when played by different soloists or transcribed for the recorder. Throughout, Eco gamely reconsiders his 1976 work, A Theory of Semiotics, over which many a gauntlet was testily thrown, and revisits other key moments in the history of semiotic research. This collection will certainly appeal to specialists. But Eco's ability to balance technical subject matter with broadly intelligible anecdotes and illustrations should make it valuable and pleasurable for anyone seeking a gallant introduction to the philosophy of language. (Nov.) FYI: Also in November Harvest will release Eco's Serendipities in paperback ($12, ISBN 0-15-600751-7) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Eco, a best-selling novelist and a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, unlocks the riddles of history in an exploration of the "linguistics of the lunatic," stories told by scholars, scientists, poets, fanatics, and ordinary people in order to make sense of the world. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Italy's most celebrated public intellectual gathers five essays that focus (more or less) on how lunatic misunderstandings concerning the perfect language have led to new discoveries (sort of). Eco (The Name of the Rose) remains Italy's most successful and prolific writer. He is a novelist, cultural commentator, essayist, literary critic, and scholar of language. The present volume of essays is spun off his work on the historical search for the "perfect language", i.e., the language that God gave Adam, the one that was lost in the catastrophe at the Tower of Babel. But the conceit with which he rather unsuccessfully attempts to unify the book is this: the search in the cases he explores always involves either outright errors or otherwise fictional inventions that have somehow led to positive discovery. After all, Columbus accidentally discovered the New World owing to miscalculations about the size of the earth. Eco sees similar situations in the history of language. For example, a 16th-century Jesuit, Father Athanasius Kircher, fancifully and elaborately interpreted ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as the lost language of the Garden of Eden. "Kircher was wildly wrong. Still, notwithstanding his eventual failure, he is the father of Egyptology." This and similar disappointingly general findings do not satisfyingly deliver on the promise that the errors serendipitously produce truth. But all is not lost. The meandering erudition of Eco's book is interesting enough in its own right. He speculates, for example, that Dante believed his own Italian vernacular, as distinct from official Latin, was in fact an echo of Adam's perfect language. And, he examines philosophical attempts byLeibniz and others to recreate a perfect language and Joseph de Maistre's combination of linguistic mysticism and reactionary politics.

The genial Eco may have had the lay reader in mind when he wrote these essays (which were originally lectures), but his book of linguistic arcana is also of avowedly esoteric interest.

The Daily Yomiuri
Eco cajoles his readers to go out and learn more, and perhaps, to disagree with him.

— Scott Gordon

Atlantic Monthly

Erudite, wide-ranging, and slyly humorous.... The literary examples Eco employs range from Dante to Dumas, from Sterne to Spillane. His text is thought-provoking, often outright funny, and full of surprising juxtapositions.

The Daily Yomiuri - Scott Gordon

Eco cajoles his readers to go out and learn more, and perhaps, to disagree with him.

The Atlantic

Erudite, wide-ranging, and slyly humorous.... The literary examples Eco employs range from Dante to Dumas, from Sterne to Spillane. His text is thought-provoking, often outright funny, and full of surprising juxtapositions.

Booklist

Fans of Eco's novels will not be left dissatisfied--his fictional players are still present: Templars, Illuminati, Jesuits, Theosophists, and Masons. They all have a part in this intriguing look at how the study of language can be full of surprises.

Review of Contemporary Fiction

Eco's insistent curiosity, his vital imagination and his almost overwhelming erudition work together like forces of nature to push and pull the book's five essays in unpredictable directions.

Scotland on Sunday

These essays are equally entertaining and unusual.

World Literature Today

Informative, instructive, and entertaining.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156007511
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1 HARVEST
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.34 (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

Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Force of Falsity 1
2 Languages in Paradise 23
3 From Marco Polo to Leibniz: Stones of Intellectual Misunderstandings 53
4 The Language of the Austral Land 77
5 The Linguistics of Joseph De Maistre 97
Notes 117
Index 121
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

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 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

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