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The Island of the Day Before Hardcover – 1 Nov 1995


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 515 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Publishers Ltd; 1st U.S. Ed edition (1 Nov. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151001510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151001514
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,603,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"No comparable book has ever existed... The exuberance of the narrative and sheer sumptuousness of the language possess a precision for which everything in Eco's earlier writing had prepared us, but equally a panache for which nothing had" (Sunday Times)

"Vintage Eco...full of verbal conjuring: both an enjoyable fable and a skillful parade of recent literary theory and history of science" (The Times)

"A great feast of words" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Every age gets the classics it deserves. I hope we deserve The Island of the Day Before...This novel belings in the great tradition of Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Johnson's Rasselas and Voltaire's Candide. We are left energized, exhilarated by the sheer sensory excitement of the music's telling." (New York Times Book Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

‘Every age gets the classics it deserves. I hope we deserve The Island of the Day Before’ – New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. della Griva on 29 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Okay, two things: this is one of my favourite books that I have ever read; I am astounded by some of the poor reviews here!

Contrary to other posters' experiences, 'The Island of the Day Before' was the first Eco book that I read, and what instantly grabbed me was his fantastic style. I know that we're reading it in the English translation (see his book of essays 'Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation'), yet the prose unfurls and unfolds mesmerically, drawing the reader into the novel. The narrator's tone is engagingly learned, affectionate towards his characters, and very, very funny.

Then there's the characterisation. Roberto della Griva himself is such a brilliant creation: a sub-standard Petrarch trapped on an abandoned ship writing letters to the love of his life who doesn't even know he exists; an unwitting witness to some of the greatest occurrences of his age; a figure who lays bare the mixture of disillusion and enduring hope of the human existence. And, of course, we must not forget Father Casper...

So now we come to the brilliant plot, or, perhaps, plots is more accurate. I really don't understand why some reviewers here have said that nothing happens; if anything, there is too much happening, with the flashbacks and the background detail, the stories of warring regions and the conspiracies of Cardinal Richlieu. This is as much of the story as the actual 'present' of the novel. And all these interesting and revealing episodes are framed within each other, creating a fantastic richness and depth that really draws one in.

This is really Eco's most honest novel. I can't agree with those who have labelled it especially intellectually ostentatious. In his other novels Eco can cloak his erudition and intelligence, in a way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Dec. 1997
Format: Hardcover
With "The Island of the Day Before," Eco almost redeems himself for "Foucault's Pendulum." This time around, Eco seems more intent on playing narrative games than blundering through a morass of Templar intrigues. As Roberto wanders through the mysterious ship, he wanders through past episodes of his life. We follow him through chambers filled with exotic flora and fauna and from his childhood home, to a city under siege, to the courts of Paris where an encounter with the Cardinal Mazarin sets him on his fateful voyage.
While "Island is not nearly as enjoyable as "Name of the Rose," it far surpasses "Foucault's Pendulum," interesting for its attempt to re-create the medieval mindset (an endeavor of which Eco seems incredibly fond) and for Eco's ability to veer from Roberto's past to present while interspersing bits of the medieval weltanschauung.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Voulgari on 12 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
Eco has the fascinating ability to write about medieval Europe like no other. The book brings back to life the siege and fall of Casale, the ecclesiocratic atmosphere of the 16-17th centuries and characters as true to life as they could possibly get.

Our main character, through an unfortunate series of accidents, is stranded on this abandoned ship God knows where on the planet. and that's where the real story begins...to go wrong. Although the main idea for the book is ingenius and quite frankly, fascinating, Eco just cannot keep from rambling on about things that are not important to the story or particularly informative to the reader unless they are the type of person who reads literature strictly 'to learn about how people used to live back then'.

Although the book is very clever, it is too long, much more than Foucault's pendulum. You will not be gripped by the story unless you are a huge historical literature fan, and although I really enjoy the genre, it still failed to engage me. A lot of the extra (and quite honestly, unnecessary) information in this book could have been edited to thicken the plot or just to allow the reader to actually concentrate long enough between two pages!

I was not very satisfied at all with this book and although I was thrilled by the Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, I have to say this particular book disappointed me.
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Format: Paperback
"The Island of the Day Before" makes for an enthralling read as we see the protagonist grow and develop as philosopher and survivalist. The narrative style is unusual, as the narrator addresses the reader often and essentially reports the story of Roberto della Griva from an epistolary source material that may or may not exist. The first half of the story alternates between Roberto's present, as he writes it, and his past, covering - as others here have noted - history of medieval Europe including the siege at Casale, where the breadth of Eco's knowledge, intelligence and research really do impress.

The second half deals with Roberto's present and the contemplation of his uncertain future. The story at times reads like a philosophical rumination on life, death and the soul, and whilst Roberto's conclusions are incomplete, these passages give the reader a deeper understanding of the psyche of our protagonist, and his unfinished cerebral ramblings make him a painfully believable character. Trapped on a ship alone, anchored off the shore of an island just out of reach, Roberto by turns tortures himself and comforts himself with his own mind and his writing, as he yearns for the woman he loves and despises his rival, and begins to understand that resolution must come from within when tedium and aqua vitae are your only companions.

Roberto shows us that we are all enemy, lover, fighter and student to ourselves and ultimately the agents of our own destruction. The novel is not perfect, but in grounding it in the historical, Eco ensures every event - although fictional - never drifts beyond the realm of believability, making for a marvellously pertinent work that stimulates the mind wonderfully.
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