The Infinity of Lists Paperback – 27 Sep 2012
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'glorious, dazzling' Independent. (Independent)
'Using art, Eco looks at lists of saints, angels, bestiaries, and other tropes of western art. All this is accompanied by wonderful illustrations' Catholic Herald. (Catholic Herald)
'a beautifully presented book of artworks' Evening Standard. (Evening Standard)
'Illustrated with wonderful, evocative pictures and an extensive literary anthology' David Sexton, Evening Standard. (Evening Standard)
'The Thinking Person's literary equivalent to the Christmas pud: chockfull of goodies ... studded with obscure, spicy ingredients ... why not just lie back and wallow in Eco's bath of superabundance' Simon Schama, Financial Times. (Financial Times)
'Flaunting his extraordinary erudition but flaunting it modestly ... The Infinity of Lists, sumptuous yet unpresumptuous, is the perfect anti-Kindle' Gilbert Adair, Spectator. (Spectator)
'Not everyone could find beauty and intrigue in lists, but Eco has produced a rich anthology on them, his erudite essays punctuating a cornucopia of catalogues from art and literature' Sunday Telegraph. (Sunday Telegraph)
'A dazzling, dizzying tour through two millennia ... supported by dozens of examples from literature and life' Max Rashbrooke, Time Out. (Time Out)
'A characteristic product of this extraordinary writer and polymath: learned, sparkling, insightful, provocative, packed full of intriguing and arcane information' Mary Beard, Guardian. (Guardian)
From the Inside Flap
In the history of Western culture we find lists of saints, ranks of soldiers, accounts of grotesque creatures, inventories of medicinal plants and hoards of treasure. There are practical lists which are finite, such as catalogues of books in a library; but there are others which are intended to suggest countless magnitudes, and thereby arouse in us a dizzying sense of the infinite. This infinity of lists is no coincidence: a culture prefers enclosed, stable forms when it is sure of its own identity, whereas when faced with a jumbled accumulation of ill-defined phenomena, it starts making lists.
The aesthetics of lists runs throughout the history of art and literature. We see it at work not only in ancient bestiaries, the celestial hosts of angels or the naturalist collections of the sixteenth century. We find it also more obliquely from Homer to Joyce and Pynchon, and from the treasures of Gothic cathedrals to the fantastical landscapes of Bosch and cabinets of curiosities, until we get to Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst in the twentieth century.
In this beautifully illustrated edition, Umberto Eco reflects on how the idea of catalogues has changed over the centuries and how, from one period to another, it has expressed the spirit of the times. His essay is accompanied by a literary anthology and a wide selection of works of art illustrating the texts presented. This new volume is a companion to On Beauty (2004) and On Ugliness (2007). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Eco guides us through the intriguing history of the list or catalogue in art and science from the captains of the Greek ships in Homer's Iliad through to Warhol's soup tins.
Throughout we see beautiful reproductions of the works of art chosen to illustrate his essay along with extracts from many poems, plays, novels and songs.
If you want to stimulate your imagination I can't recommend this book highly enough - a great reference and a wonderful thing to just look at.
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