Tag Archives: Infinity of Lists

A Tragic Day for Literature: Umberto Eco and Harper Lee

Yesterday was a truly tragic day for literature. We lost two of our most treasured writers. Ms. Harper Lee passed away at the age of 89, and the great Umberto Eco died at the age of 84. I find it difficult to express how deeply I am saddened.

Umberto Eco was my favorite writer. I think why I felt such a connection to him is because he did it all. He wrote amazing literary analysis that is insightful and thought-provoking. He tackled complex social issues in essays that were both witty and complex. Finally, he wrote such rich novels that were mysterious, philosophical, and engaging. I cannot sing this man’s praises enough. His genius is reflected in everything that he wrote, and there is much out there to read.

In contrast to the prolific Eco, Harper Lee essentially wrote one book that changed the world. If anyone ever suggests that writing is a frivolous pursuit, you need only mention To Kill a Mockingbird and how that one book impacted society. And yes, Ms. Lee also recently published Go Set a Watchman, but it can be argued that this was the draft of what would be her masterpiece. Harper Lee was the literary equivalent to a one-hit-wonder in music, but that one hit delivered one of the most powerful blows in literature.

Although they are gone, their works will live on to inspire. The world suffers the loss of these two literary geniuses. I guess I can only feel grateful that I lived at the same time as these two brilliant writers.

Here are links to some of my past posts discussing Eco’s and Lee’s works. May they both rest in peace.


 

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco


 

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

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“The Infinity Of Lists” by Umberto Eco

InfinityOfListsI was recently given this book as a birthday gift by someone who knows how much I admire Umberto Eco. Needless to say, this book rocketed to the top of my reading list.

I have to admit, that while there are some very interesting parts in the book, overall it was not one of my favorite works by Eco. The book is a follow-up to On Ugliness, which I found much more interesting. In The Infinity Of Lists, Eco examines the use of lists in literature as a way of expressing the infinite and the ineffable, and he makes some astute observations. My criticism about the book was the reprinting of some of these lists, many of which were painfully long and made even more tedious considering they were presented out of context from the original works. I kept wondering why he didn’t edit these lists and present only sections. I think this would have sufficed to make his point and would have allowed space for more scholarly examination of the various types of lists.

If you are a fan of Umberto Eco, then you will probably want to read this book and will find some literary gems buried in the lists. If you are not a big Eco fan or have not read any of his works, then I suspect that you will likely struggle through the early part of this book before finally giving up on it.

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