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By Peter E. Bondanella

Umberto Eco is Italy's most famed residing highbrow, identified between teachers for his literary and cultural theories, and to a massive overseas viewers via his novels, The identify of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum and The Island of the Day sooner than. Umberto Eco and the Open textual content is the 1st accomplished learn in English of Eco's paintings. In transparent and available language, Peter Bondanella considers not just Eco's most renowned texts, but additionally many occasional essays now not but translated into English. Tracing Eco's highbrow improvement from early stories in medieval aesthetics to seminal works on pop culture, postmodern fiction, and semiotic thought, he exhibits how Eco's personal fiction grows out of his literary and cultural theories. Bondanella cites all texts in English, and offers an entire bibliography of works through and approximately Eco.

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209­10; Il problema estetico, p. 251. 19 The Aesthetics, p. 213; Il problema estetico, p. 254. 20 The Aesthetics, p. 215; Il problema estetico, p. 257. Page 16 not as influential when Eco first published his study of Aquinas. But  the conclusion Eco draws from his retrospective assessment of his work on medieval aesthetics  avoids the far more revolutionary  conclusions many of his university colleagues drew  during that  troubled period in Italy. Eco was attracted by the parallel between   Scholasticism and structuralism as a valid reason to study past aesthetic theories. The impact of Scholasticism upon modernist poetics in writers such as James Joyce,  and upon the literary theorists of the Chicago School or the New Critics, provided additional incentives. Only a few years later, Eco himself would devote many pages  to a study of Joyce within the context of his own aesthetics in The Open Work. Ultimately, however, Eco justified studying the Scholastics not for philosophical,  historical, or intellectual reasons but for what ultimately represents an aesthetic and a moral impulse: Anyone who makes use of the thinking of the past is enriched by an experience which is organic and complete, and is enabled subsequently to reconsider the world from a higher  level of wisdom. However malformed and misplaced the tower which he has clambered up, he will see a larger vista; and not necessarily behind him. As Bernard of Chartres  remarked, with a genial, imperious, and spurious humility, we are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. 21 Few readers of Eco's treatise on medieval aesthetics could have imagined that its author would eventually produce a best­selling novel replete with medieval erudition,  untranslated Latin phrases, and puns of all kinds. And in truth, concentration upon Eco's early career with an eye only on his studies of Scholastic aesthetics would do  Eco's personality and the wide range of his interests a great injustice and would never prepare us for the humor of his future works, as well as his irreverent attitude  toward clerics and theorists in general. To anticipate fully the mixture of humor and erudition that 21 The Aesthetics, p. 222; II problema estetico, p. 264. Page 17 will characterize Eco's entire career, we must make at least brief mention of a little pamphlet called Filosofi in libertà. The title can be rendered into English as either  "Philosophers in Freedom" or perhaps "Liberated Philosophers," if the phrase "in libertà'' also makes reference to the Futurist motto "parole in libertà" or "words in  freedom. " In this work, Eco treats the history of philosophy in cartoons and verse, from the pre­Socratics to the present day. His goal is to "liberate" philosophy from  its overly serious character and to apply laughter to its sometimes all­too­ponderous posturing. The book was first published under the Joycean pseudonym of  Dedalus in a small volume limited to 550 copies by Marianne Abbagnano. It was issued again in 1959 in another 500 copies and subsequently a third time in 300  copies in 1989.

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