Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco : Philosophy, Semiotics and the Work of Fiction

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This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the work and thought of Umberto Eco - one of the most important writers in Europe today.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 20.3mm | 439.99g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745608493
  • 9780745608495
  • 2,189,821

About Michael Caesar

Michael Caesar is Professor of Italian and Head of Italian Studies at the University of Birmingham.
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Review quote

"It is a full, clear and authoritative account of Ecoa s work, with an emphasis on his development as a theorist and in particular his semiotic theory. But it includes a lively discussion of Ecoa s novels, which teases out their links with the theory most effectively. It shows the remarkable range and coherence of Eco as a writer, and is notably interesting on the ways in which his ideas have evolved in response to a changing cultural environment. Rich in details, cool, well--paced and incisive, it provides an excellent introduction to, as well as a sympathetic critique of, Eco the thinker." David Robey, Department of Italian Studies, Reading University "This wonderfully lucid and thorough exposition of Ecoa s major works will be indispensable to scholars and students alike. Michael Caesar explores the interconnectedness of the a theoreticala and a narrativea writings with analytical rigour, balancing appreciation with careful criticism. Caesar makes brilliant use of his own reading of the works to discuss the a role of the readera , showing the limits as well as the possibilities in Ecoa s approach to texts." Robert Lumley, Director of the Centre for Italian Studies, University College, London
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Back cover copy

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the work and thought of Umberto Eco - one of the most important writers in Europe today. While Eco became world-famous with his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose, his writings have been influential in many fields for several decades.

Caesar retraces the development of Eco's thought and its impact on literary studies, aesthetics, philosophy and semiotics. He shows how, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Eco elaborated his theory of art, bringing together medieval aesthetics, the modernist avant-garde and his interest in the mass media. He discusses Eco's attempts to synthesize a general theory of signification and communication which would embrace both popular and mass culture - attempts which culminated in A Theory of Semiotics.

Caesar also examines Eco's emergence as a novelist with the publication of The Name of the Rose in 1980 and the novels that followed it, and explores Eco's theories of reading and interpretation which take shape between The Role of the Reader and Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. The book concludes with an analysis of the themes addressed in Eco's most recent work, Kant and the Platypus.

Wide-ranging and up to date, this engaging study will appeal to students of literature, philosophy and cultural studies, and to anyone who wants a clear introduction to one of Europe's most stimulating and original intellectuals.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgement ix
Note on References x
Introduction 1
1 Form, Interpretation and the Open Work 6
On form and interpretation: from Croce to Pareyson 6
Art and rationality 10
The appearance of Opera aperta 15
The poetics of the open work 18
Beyond openness 23
2 A Critical View of Culture: Mass Communications, Politics and the Avant-garde 28
The role of the avant-garde 29
Mass communications and theories of mass culture 37
Television and semiotic guerrilla war 43
Openness and structure 47
3 Introducing the Study of Signs 54
Signals and sense 55
Ambiguity, self-reflexivity and the aesthetic message 64
The critique of iconism 67
Some provisional conclusions on the aesthetic message 69
4 A Theory of Semiotics 76
From La struttura assente to A Theory of Semiotics 76
Communication, code and signification 81
Sign and sign-function 83
Sign production, iconism and the aesthetic message (again) 90
5 Semiotics Bounded and Unbound 100
The boundaries of semiotics 102
The dynamics of semiosis 111
6 Theory and Fiction 120
Readers and worlds Texts 120
7 Secrets, Paranoia and Critical Reading 145
8 Kant, the Platypus and the Horizon 162
Notes 171
Select Bibliography 184
Index 193
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