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The Book of Legendary Lands [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £27.71
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Book Description

12 Nov 2013
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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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli International Publications (12 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847841219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847841219
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 3.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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"

From the Inside Flap

In the tradition of On Beauty, On Ugliness and The Infinity of Lists, Umberto Eco presents an enthralling and erudite illustrated tour of the fabled places that have awed and eluded us through the ages. From the epic poems of Homer to contemporary science fiction, from the Holy Scriptures to modern mythology and fairy tale, literature and art are full of illusory places we have at some time believed are real, and onto which we have projected our dreams, ideals and fears. Umberto Eco leads us on an illuminating journey through these legendary lands - Atlantis, Thule and Hyperborea, the Earth's interior and the Land of Cockaigne - and explores utopias and dystopias where our imagination can confront concepts that are too incredible, or too challenging, for our limited real world. In The Book of Legendary Lands the author's text is accompanied by several hundred carefully assembled works of art and literature; the result is a beautifully illustrated volume with broad and enduring appeal.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly charming 22 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A book of places that don't exist, charmingly illustrated; a shortish introduction of each place is followed by extracts from the original texts. The whole is a product of great scholarship, but this isn't a heavy academic textbook, it's very readable. And great fun.

It's not in anyway complete. I was rather sad that Hy-Brasil, that amazing island off Ireland, wasn't included. But there is so much else, something for everyman.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Umberto Eco managed to write a book which is fully equal to similar already existing works such as "The Atlas of Legendary Lands" or "Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms". Very convincing the selection of images: There are several we did not know, yet. From an aesthetic point of view a really beautiful book! And very convincing, too, the textual elaboration.

On the basis of Atlantis for example we see clearly that Umberto Eco did not just copy what others repeated already a thousand times. Rather did Umberto Eco find even in this controversial issue his own convincing path.

In detail on this example: For Eco, the history of the various Atlantis localizations is not - as so often - a menacing climax with National Socialism as culmination (wagging forefinger!). It is rather a journey through history with National Socialism as one stop of several. Olof Rudbeck, too, is no crackpot "baroque Nazi" for Eco but a serious baroque scholar, who just erred. Someone like Umberto Eco knows how to place these things properly, of course. In the video for the book the connection of Hyperborea (astonishingly not: Atlantis) to the Holocaust is drawn too closely: as if someone who reads and thinks about the ancient Hyperborea (resp. Atlantis) would become a National Socialist ... well, it is only the video, therefore let's forget it.

Let us leave the vexed and vain NS topic and come to Atlantis itself: Already in his "Foucault's Pendulum" Eco was pleasently reserved concerning Atlantis - this applies here, too. The Atlantis map of the baroque scholar Athanasius Kircher is called correctly a map of the "site" of Atlantis, not as a map which allegedly displays the exact shape of Atlantis.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real feast 28 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once again, Umberto Eco does not disappoint. The perfect companion to 'the infinity of lists' & his 'beauty/ugliness' books.

Fantastic.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Umberto Eco managed to write a book which is fully equal to similar already existing works such as "The Atlas of Legendary Lands" or "Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms". Very convincing the selection of images: There are several we did not know, yet. From an aesthetic point of view a really beautiful book! And very convincing, too, the textual elaboration.

On the basis of Atlantis for example we see clearly that Umberto Eco did not just copy what others repeated already a thousand times. Rather did Umberto Eco find even in this controversial issue his own convincing path.

In detail on this example: For Eco, the history of the various Atlantis localizations is not - as so often - a menacing climax with National Socialism as culmination (wagging forefinger!). It is rather a journey through history with National Socialism as one stop of several. Olof Rudbeck, too, is no crackpot "baroque Nazi" for Eco but a serious baroque scholar, who just erred. Someone like Umberto Eco knows how to place these things properly, of course. In the video for the book the connection of Hyperborea (astonishingly not: Atlantis) to the Holocaust is drawn too closely: as if someone who reads and thinks about the ancient Hyperborea (resp. Atlantis) would become a National Socialist ... well, it is only the video, therefore let's forget it.

Let us leave the vexed and vain NS topic and come to Atlantis itself: Already in his "Foucault's Pendulum" Eco was pleasently reserved concerning Atlantis - this applies here, too. The Atlantis map of the baroque scholar Athanasius Kircher is called correctly a map of the "site" of Atlantis, not as a map which allegedly displays the exact shape of Atlantis.
Read more ›
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1 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 2 Feb 2014
By sallyj
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a Christmas present for my father at his request. No idea what he makes of it yet.
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