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On Literature
  • On Literature


    Umberto Eco.


    Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Octavo. Light brown boards in a pictorial dust wrapper. 334 pages. Signed first edition. Fine.


    A collection of essays by a recently deceased reader and writer of extraordinary power. Topics include Aristotle's Poetics, Dante's Paradiso, Gerard de Nerval, and his writing process. Flat signed by Eco on a publisher's plate affixed to the title page. If you have a second, take a look at the man himself strolling through his private library; a sight to behold. What became of it?


    "The function of 'unchangeable' stories is precisely this: against all our desires to change destiny, they make tangible the impossibility of changing it. And in doing so, no matter what story they are telling, they are also telling our own story, and that is why we read them and love them. We need their severe, 'repressive' lesson. Hypertextual narrative has much to teach us about freedom and creativity. That is all well and good, but it is not everything. Stories that are 'already made' also teach us how to die. I believe that one of the principal functions of literature lies in these lessons about fate and death. Perhaps there are others, but none spring to mind."

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