Six Walks in the Fictional Woods

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Overview


In this exhilarating book, we accompany Umberto Eco as he explores the intricacies of fictional form and method. Using examples ranging from fairy tales and Flaubert, Poe and Mickey Spillane, Eco draws us in by means of a novelist's techniques, making us his collaborators in the creation of his text and in the investigation of some of fiction's most basic mechanisms.

In this exhilarating book, companion and guide Umberto Eco--bestselling author of The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum--explores the intricacies of fictional form and method. Eco makes readers his collaborators in the creation of his text and the investigation of fiction's mechanisms. 14 illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Los Angeles Times Book Review

Reading [these chapters] is indeed like wandering in the woods...They might in fact be called, more prosaically, "How to Be a Good Reader," for Eco, in his incredibly manipulative way, has you eating out of his hand by the end of them.
— Susan Salter Reynolds

Boston Globe

The dim boundary between the imaginary and the real is Eco's home terrain...He is a foxy gamesman, using enchanted woods as a flexible image for narrative texts, and mustering a playful array of allusions from The Three Musketeers to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
— Robert Taylor

Independent

[This] dashing and stylish series of six lectures...displays Umberto Eco's enviable ability to transform arid semiotics and narrative theory into intellectual entertainment.
— John O'Reilly

Los Angeles Times Book Review - Susan Salter Reynolds
Reading [these chapters] is indeed like wandering in the woods...They might in fact be called, more prosaically, "How to Be a Good Reader," for Eco, in his incredibly manipulative way, has you eating out of his hand by the end of them.
Boston Globe - Robert Taylor
The dim boundary between the imaginary and the real is Eco's home terrain...He is a foxy gamesman, using enchanted woods as a flexible image for narrative texts, and mustering a playful array of allusions from The Three Musketeers to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Independent - John O'Reilly
[This] dashing and stylish series of six lectures...displays Umberto Eco's enviable ability to transform arid semiotics and narrative theory into intellectual entertainment.
Boston Globe
The dim boundary between the imaginary and the real is Eco's home terrain...He is a foxy gamesman, using enchanted woods as a flexible image for narrative texts, and mustering a playful array of allusions from The Three Musketeers to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
— Robert Taylor
Independent
[This] dashing and stylish series of six lectures...displays Umberto Eco's enviable ability to transform arid semiotics and narrative theory into intellectual entertainment.
— John O'Reilly
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Reading [these chapters] is indeed like wandering in the woods...They might in fact be called, more prosaically, "How to Be a Good Reader," for Eco, in his incredibly manipulative way, has you eating out of his hand by the end of them.
— Susan Salter Reynolds
Library Journal
Eco's six lectures in Harvard's prestigious ``Charles Eliot Norton Lectures'' invite readers to reexamine how they read and how much is expected of them. Eco argues that any actual reader is an empirical reader with a specific personal reading context. As such, each individual reader is only part of the model reader, the author's composite imagined listener. But the individual author, always distinct from the narrator, even a first-person narrator, is also only part of the model author whose stylistic strategies help all empirical readers infer what the characteristics of the model reader are and, circling back, what those of the model author are. Using entertaining anecdotes from serious and popular fiction (Dante, Poe, Nerval, Calvino), cinema, and journalism, Eco ( Misreadings , LJ 5/1/92) scales back the systematizing of his Seventies semiotics and makes reading a commonsense activity, both challenging and titillating. For comprehensive collections in literature.-- Marilyn Gaddis Rose, SUNY-Binghamton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674810518
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Series: Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Series , #2016
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 603,019
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bologna and is the author of many books, including Foucault's Pendulum.

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

1. Entering The Woods

2. The Woods Of Loisy

3. Lingering In The Woods

4. Possible Woods

5. The Strange Case Of The Rue Servandoni

6. Fictional Protocols

Notes

Index

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