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This is Not the End of the Book: A Conversation Curated by Jean-Philippe De Tonnac [Hardcover]

Umberto Eco , Jean-Claude Carriere , Jean-Philippe de Tonnac , Polly McLean
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2011

'The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered.' Umberto Eco

These days it is almost impossible to get away from discussions of whether the 'book' will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles on the subject appear daily, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting they don't know what will happen. Amidst the twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air.

There are few people better placed to discuss the past, present and future of the book. Both avid book collectors with a deep understanding of history, they have explored through their work the many and varied ways ideas have been represented through the ages. This thought-provoking book takes the form of a long conversation in which Carrière and Eco discuss everything from what can be defined as the first book to what is happening to knowledge now that infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdote. We find out about Eco's first computer and the book Carrière is most sad to have sold.

Readers will close this entertaining book feeling they have had the privilege of eavesdropping on an intimate discussion between two great minds. And while, as Carrière says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846554519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846554513
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 558,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A storming book. The next best thing to sitting in Umberto Eco's living room after dinner; a dream collection of lucid and fascinating discussions (Nick Harkaway)

Hurrah for philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco and playwright and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who have come together to praise the medium... Fans of Eco and Carrière will be charmed (Time Out)

As the conversation blossoms, the pair wander blissfully off topic into wider philosophical speculation about the nature of culture, for instance or humanity's curious relationship with past, present and future. And along the way there are plenty of pleasant diversions and anecdotes, taking in such diverse subject matter as Italian cinema forgotten French baroque poets, and the place of philosophy in contemporary European education systems. All this, naturally, informed by their love of books (TLS)

The dialogue between these two superbrains is freakishly compelling and covers everything from papyrus scrolls to e-readers... never fails to be enlightening and engaging... hooray for this brilliant book (Dazed & Confused)

This book is a reminder that the satisfaction of working through even a relatively short book comes in part through confronting digressions, dead ends and distractions: the hallmark of conversation between friends, not of Internet speed-reading (Wall Street Journal)

Book Description

The perfect gift for book lovers: a beautifully designed hardcover in which two of the world's great men have a delightfully rambling conversation about the future of the book in the digital era, and decide it is here to stay.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two bibliophiles converse on books 30 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What is an incunabulum? I didn't know and prior to reading the book I had the illusion that I am a literate person. I shall provide the answer later along with the number and criteria used by Umberto Eco for collecting his incunabula. Incidentally Jean-Paul Carriere also collects incunabula. The sole aim for the unorthodox introductory paragraph was to whet the appetite of the bibliophile reader.

And now to the review proper which comprise:information about the authors;what the book is primarily not about;what the book is, that is its nature and content;what is the basis for anticipating that the book would be a treat to the bibliophile reader.

Umberto Eco is professor of Semiology, medievalist, theorist, and novelist;Jean-Claude Carriere is a writer, playwright and screenwriter. In the body of the book I learned that he studied history. Intrigued by the fact that he co-authored with Guy Bechtel in the sixties a dictionary of stupidity (Dictionnaire de la betise - since reprinted several times) whom he met in the preparation classes for the Ecole Normale Superieure, I made a Google search and found that he is indeed an alumnus of this prestigious school.

The book is not primarily about a potential threat posed the book by our digitised age because as the authors readily acknowledge the future is unpredictable. The book focuses on the nature of the book itself and as such predominantly on our non digitised past.

To state that every book published to-day is a post-incunabulum is a truism given that 'incunabula' are all the books published between the invention of movable press in mid-fifteenth century and the night of 31st December 1500. The Latin word 'incunabula' refers to the 'cradle' of the history of the printed book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not the End 14 Oct 2013
This is Not the End of the Book is the transcription of an extended conversation, facilitated by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, between big-brained bibliophiles Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere. Given its title, it is understandable perhaps to presume that this book offers a detailed regurgitation of the many `print books vs e-books' arguments that are currently en vogue but, despite involving a fast-paced journey from the Library at Alexandria to e-readers, it actually offers far more.

In his Preface to this edition, de Tonnac notes that Eco and Carriere did not intend to make "emphatic pronouncements about the effects of the widespread (or otherwise) adoption of the electronic book" but, rather, that they wanted to discuss the nature of the book itself. Both Eco and Carriere are collectors of rare and antiquarian books (owning roughly 50,000 and 30,000 to 40,000 volumes respectively) and it is their thesis that the book represents a sort of "unsurpassable perfection in the realm of the imagination".

In order to flesh out this argument, they consider what exactly is a book (does the invention of the book date from the first codices in the 11th century or from more ancient papyrus scrolls?) and what could potentially be lost and gained during the next evolution in people's reading habits. Eco and Carriere also consider in fascinating detail the kind of mirror that books provide of the societies in which they were written and of the role of taste (or trend or even ideology) in decisions as to which books society deems worthy of preservation. How can it be determined that the books that have survived are a true reflection of what human creativity has produced? This question leads on to the topic of book burning - both intentional and accidental - and so of loss and censorship.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learned Terrace-chat 28 Aug 2012
One of the most delightful conversation books I have read since, well, Milan Kundera's chats on literature.
Carriere and Eco look at the book today from (almost) every point of view: past (incunabula), present (the book in the age of IT) and future (the survival of parchment before all else). They wear a weight of learning with a wholly agreeable lightness of being. I wanted to join in, actually: 'Signor Dottore Eco, don't we like books better than Kindles because they *smell* better?', on which not-wholly-facetious matter I would expect some amusing reactions. But then, since the authentic book is not 'interactive', my question must remain hanging ... This is ideal for the thinking man or woman's holiday, to read on the terrace, in a hammock, by the pool, early in the evening with (and yes, I hazard the cliche) une bouteille de rose to hand. Grazie mille, merci bien, Umberto et Jean-Claude!
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