The Book of Legendary Lands

Overview

A fascinating illustrated tour of the fabled places in literature and folklore that have awed, troubled, and eluded us through the ages. From the epic poets of antiquity to contemporary writers of science fiction, from the authors of the Holy Scriptures to modern raconteurs of fairy tales, writers and storytellers through the ages have invented imaginary and mythical lands, projecting onto them all of our human dreams, ideals, and fears. In the tradition of his acclaimed History of Beauty, On Ugliness, and The ...

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Overview

A fascinating illustrated tour of the fabled places in literature and folklore that have awed, troubled, and eluded us through the ages. From the epic poets of antiquity to contemporary writers of science fiction, from the authors of the Holy Scriptures to modern raconteurs of fairy tales, writers and storytellers through the ages have invented imaginary and mythical lands, projecting onto them all of our human dreams, ideals, and fears. In the tradition of his acclaimed History of Beauty, On Ugliness, and The Infinity of Lists, renowned writer and cultural critic Umberto Eco leads us on a beautifully illustrated journey through these lands of myth and invention, showing us their inhabitants, the passions that rule them, their heroes and antagonists, and, above all, the importance they hold for us. He explores this human urge to create such places, the utopias and dystopias where our imagination can confront things that are too incredible or challenging for our limited real world. Illuminated with more than 300 color images, The Book of Legendary Lands is both erudite and thoroughly enjoyable, bringing together disparate elements of our shared literary legacy in a way only Umberto Eco can. Homer’s poems and other ancient and medieval texts are presented side by side with Gulliver’s Travels and Alice in Wonderland; Tolkien shares space with Marco Polo’s Books of the Marvels of the World; films complement poems, and comics inform novels. Together, these stories have influenced the sensibilities and worldview of all of us.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In his Postscript to The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco confessed that he had rediscovered "what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told." In The Book of Legendary Lands, the Italian polymath lures us into utopias, dystopias, and fairylands inhabited by all manners of beings, each of them created, furnished, and reassembled by legions of artful confederates. Like all of Eco's writings, this profusely illustrated book breathes for all those who love the scent of books in the morning.

From the Publisher
"Umberto Eco takes us on a wonderful illustrated journey through the lands of myth and invention, showing us their inhabitants, the passions that move them, their heroes and antagonists, and, most of all, the importance they hold for us. Eco explores the enduring human need to seek refuge in the beautiful places of literature and folklore, examing along the way both epic poets and contemporary storytellers who have drawn—and stretched—the boundaries of our emotions, dreams, worries, and ideals." -i-ItalyNY Magazine

"A book for people who, as children, pored gleefully over the maps of Oz and Earthsea, an atlas of the most surreal and fabulous imaginary places you've never been." -SFGate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847841219
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 137,452
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco is a world-renowned writer of fiction, essays, and academic treatises. Among his best-selling novels are The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, and The Prague Cemetery.

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

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