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The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana: An Illustrated Novel Paperback – 1 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; paperback / softback edition (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099481375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099481379
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Confirms Eco as an outstanding writer of philosophy dressed as fiction" (Stephanie Merrit Observer)

"As always with Eco, there is much to admire" (Sunday Times)

"A beautiful evocation of a difficult period of Italian history, full of the flair and erudition for which we love Eco" (Metro)

"Genuinely clever...the writing, the quotes and the pictures often tickle the brain" (Irish Independent)

"Witty, playful, and incorrigibly erudite, Eco clearly had fun writing this book. There is much to enjoy" (Daily Mail)

Book Description

This remarkable illustrated novel is Eco's most accessible and entertaining book since The Name of the Rose.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. Clark VINE VOICE on 1 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Its a fact that all of Umberto Eco's novels are remarkable. Which doesn't necessarily make them easy to read. Both "Foucault's Pendulum" and "The Name of the Rose" are on my all time top ten list - while I couldn not finish either "Baudolino" or "The Island of the Day Before. " I'm glad to say that I finished TMFOQL .
The premise of the novel is fascinating. Yambo, an Italian antiquarian book dealer comes to in hospital ,following a car crash, and has no memory of his personal life right up to his accident. However, he remembers the plot of almost every book which he has ever read. The only ones he doesn't remember are those which he had an intense personal connection to. The narrative of the novel deals with Yambo's attempts to recapture his own personal history, which he does through revisiting his boyhood home, and much of the literature of all kinds which he read when he was young.
If that sounds dry or rather academic, please don't be put off. Its far more than this. The novel makes deeply interesting points about the way that we make memories, and the part that literature, music, in fact all forms of popular culture cannot be divorced from our everyday lives, but are in fact an integral part of the tapestry of memory. I became highly involved with Yambo's quest, and found it deeply moving. Don't be surprised, though, as you read it, if you find yourself wondering wether Yambo should ever have tried to recapture his past . Actually, thinking about this I am sure that Eco is implicitly asking the reader this question.
You must stick with this one. It does drive to a point. Even if it strikes you that the seemingly endless recollection of comic books, pul literature, and adolescent adventure stories from Yambo's childhood does go on for too long, it is necessary and important.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tras de las palabras on 14 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
I thought a lot about how many stars I should give 'The Mysterious Flame'. I thought two stars would be unfair, given the intellectual value of its content. On the other hand, it is not the kind of narrative I would personally give four stars.

'The Name of the Rose' was a masterpiece, a true gift to world literature; it was atmospheric, and exciting. It had a plethora of unique characters, and a great story to tell. 'The Mysterious Flame' is personal, focusing on the identity search of a man suffering from amnesia. It offers a unique journey to Italian culture and the events of the years of the dictatorship, through the illustrated comic books and stories a whole generation loved. At times it offers vivid pictures of the narrator's childhood, and even certain moments of suspense.

But that's as far as it goes. 'The Mysterious Flame' is far too literary for my personal tastes, I'm afraid. It is more like a sophisticated sequence of self-analytical and self-exploring thoughts, than an actual story. That said, there is a character arc to be completed; but it's subtle. You really need to become one with the narrator in order to follow every idea, to feel every bit of anxiety and hope in his skin; to understand not just the necessity of re-establishing his identity, but rather the reasons for why this is so. And that's where the problem lies, in my opinion. Eco's narration stays on the mental level throughout the whole book. The protagonist's emotions derive from his thoughts, they are not given on a parallel level.

Let's take a moment to think about James Joyce's 'Portrait'. What was it, that despite the endless philosophical approaches to self-determination, placed it sublimely among the greatest autobiographical works ever created?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
to one another. To live is to remember and to remember is to live. To die is to forget and to forget is to die." Samuel Butler
I approached Umberto Eco's new novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, with some trepidation. I have sometime found Eco's work to be a bit difficult to get through. It became very apparent that I would have no such problems with this book. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana was not only a very accessible book but, more importantly, it was at once both immensely enjoyable and thought-provoking.
Before turning to the book itself, I found it interesting that the book is filled with illustrations. Throughout the book World War Two propaganda posters, newspaper clippings, comic book pages, and ads from Italian fashion magazines are printed alongside the text. Some might assert that Eco's reliance on illustrations may detract from the text or represent something of a gimmick. I think the illustrations are visually stunning and serve to recreate the social and political atmosphere of Italy in the 1930s and 1940s during which time much of the book takes place. They add a visual punch to the thoughts of Eco's narrator.
The book opens with Giambattista Boldoni, a 59-year old rare book dealer, awaking from a light coma in a hospital after suffering a stroke. It is determined quickly that Boldoni, known to his friends and family since childhood as Yambo, is suffering from partial amnesia. Although he has a vivid memory of social and cultural events through his life he has no memory of anything relating to his personal life. The first chapter is a classic of pop-culture allusions and metaphors. Yambo's sentences come out in stream of consciousness fashion with no personal context at all.
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