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The Island of the Day Before [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco , William Weaver
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1995
The year is 1643. Roberto, a young nobleman, survives war, the Bastille, exile and shipwreck as he voyages to a Pacific island straddling the date meridian. There he waits now, alone on the mysteriously deserted Daphne, separated by treacherous reefs from the island beyond: the island of the day before. If he could reach it, time - and his misfortunes - might be reversed. But first he must learn to swim...
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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: 24.2 x 16.4 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,227,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Eco needs a stricter editor! 12 Dec 2006
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 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is probably not for newbies to Eco. I found that the story line gets a little challenging (lost) when compared to his prior novels.

But if the reader is somewhat familiar with Eco's ideas in the areas of semiology, philosophy, reading and the art/craft of writing, it is a great read, tackling the "perceptions" of both Roberto and the reader.

I am very pleased to see it arrive in paperback!
Perhaps Eco's audience is larger than one would suspect! (g)
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eco becomes Narcissus 16 Aug 2003
By Patrick Neylan VINE VOICE
Readers expect Umberto Eco to take them on a stimulating journey of discovery as his characters unravel mysteries that take them to the heart of early Western civilisation. In The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum this style worked brilliantly. In the 'The Island of the Day Before' it fails catastrophically.

Eco spends hundreds of pages wallowing in his arcane knowledge, resorting to ever more desperate ploys to show off his learning, because this book has no plot to draw out those intellectual diversions naturally. In his previous novels, the basic murder mysteries provided a focus for the reader's journey: there was a mystery to be solved, and Eco's digressions enlightened the journey. Here the trek can be focused on one thing only: the long hoped-for last page, and the reader is only sustained by the morbid fascination of whether anything interesting is really going to happen. It doesn't.

Very early on, our hero finds himself stuck on an abandoned ship off an uncharted island. His plight becomes a metaphor for that of the reader, trapped in Eco's ego with no hope of escape. I have a degree in Medieval Literature and History, but I can't find much of interest here. What hope is there for the more general reader? Never have I fallen asleep so often over a book, pummelled into intellectual insensibility.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Is there a plot?
I am struggling with this. The first chapter or two gripped me. I am now half way through and. I could paraphrase Blackadder - "i was of the understanding that it was commom... Read more
Published 13 months ago by the*dog
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream
Finishing this book is like waking from a wonderful dream. Your thoughts are alive and world is alive. Innocence is delivered and the promise can be realised.
Published 16 months ago by MacGregor
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtly Lovers Frolicking in the Garden of Infidelity
"The Island of the Day Before" makes for an enthralling read as we see the protagonist grow and develop as philosopher and survivalist. Read more
Published on 11 July 2011 by A. C. Walton
2.0 out of 5 stars 250 pages out of 515.
Half of this book has an interesting plot, development, characterisation, descriptions and exploration of feelings and thoughts of the main narrator and, occasionally, the other... Read more
Published on 2 Jan 2010 by Thanadaraya
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, if tough read.
I liked this book, the first book i'd read by Eco. I liked the main characters, the situation they found themselves in and all the talk of the problems of 17th century science... Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2008 by Ste to the J
3.0 out of 5 stars Misweavings
Umberto Eco does not subscribe to his fellow countryman Italo Calvino's view that less is more. His first novel, the now pretty legendary The Name of the Rose, was a fat five... Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2002 by John Self
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent intellectualism.
The first half of this novel is bearable, even enjoyable at times as Eco tells us the beginnings of a story at a leisurely pace.
But beware the Jesuit priest. Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2000 by A. C. Walter
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally well written, entertaining and informative
The Island of the Day Before is far easier reading the Umberto Eco's two earlier novels (Faucoult's Pendulum and The Name of the Rose), and unlike those two you can read IotDB... Read more
Published on 4 July 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars not bad!
The explaination of the title is incredable, Eco is one writer you cannot fall asleep after reading, hence it is best to start the day with a chapter. Read more
Published on 26 May 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaleidoscope of Introspection
An ornate confection of kaleidoscopic introspection. The baroque mind elucidated and embodied. Stories within stories within stories, and all framed in the interpretation of an... Read more
Published on 16 Feb 1998
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