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Publisher's Summary

In this exhilarating book, we accompany Umberto Eco as he explores the intricacies of fictional form and method. Using examples ranging from fairy tales and Flaubert, Poe and Mickey Spillane, Eco draws us in by means of a novelist's techniques, making us his collaborators in the creation of his text and in the investigation of some of fiction's most basic mechanisms. These six lectures in Harvard's prestigious "Charles Eliot Norton Lectures" invite readers to reexamine how they read and how much is expected of them. Eco argues that any actual reader is an empirical reader with a specific personal reading context. As such, each individual reader is only part of the model reader, the author's composite imagined listener. But the individual author, always distinct from the narrator is also only part of the model author whose stylistic strategies help all readers infer what the characteristics of the model reader are and, in turn, what those of the model author are. The book is published by Harvard University Press.

©1994 President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2011 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Erudite, wide-ranging, and slyly humorous... The literary examples Eco employs range from Dante to Dumas, from Sterne to Spillane. His text is thought-provoking, often outright funny, and full of surprising juxtapositions." (The Atlantic)

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  • Ashton
  • Mishima-gun, Japan
  • 01-31-14

big ideas presented simply

I bought this title because I wanted to increase my amateur writing skill and overall understanding of story writing. Generally having a negative impression of academic writing after graduating university, I was relieved to find real ideas with situations that supported them but did not burden the overall flow of things. It took me a while, but I realized the author wants the reader to listen more than once as many of his topics relate to this very concept. So listen twice.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

An Intellectual Treat for Book Lovers

This is a book to celebrate. The late Umberto Eco was a brilliant scholar and a superb novelist. This book, a series of lectures he gave on literature, is a treat for the mind. Eco gives the reader/listener tremendous insight into what makes great literature great, why we return to novels over and over despite knowing what happens. As I listened to Eco I thought about my own parallels with great novels, and why they taught me something new each time I read them. This is a book to savor. And I look forward to listening to this book many times in the future, because it will be like being in a great literary salon with a giant of literature. Thank you Audible for making this available and for making my life so much richer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • MOUNT PLEASANT, SC, United States
  • 05-11-17

From a master of the Art

Few people would deny the depth and breadth of Umberto Eco's talent, understanding, and abilities in both writing fiction and in teaching us about the art and history of writing. In this short and accessible work, he entertainingly shines the considerable light of his genius on a slice of the ancient art, technique, and influence of literature. Well worth reading for both serious readers and all who would endeavor to produce literature.

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  • Welsh Mafia
  • 12-27-11

The weight behind the word

Having read and enjoyed a couple of Eco’s words of fiction (or is that a blend of fiction, fact and semiotics), I’ve always been aware that these works are underpinned by an intellectual opus based on his tenure at Bologna. So great to get the opportunity to enjoy full transcript of his 1993 lecture series at Harvard. Each of the stand-alone lectures can be enjoyed in itself. They are easily linked together and, despite a reputation for erudition, Eco remains totally accessible and easy to follow at all times. I was left with a complete understanding of the basis for his work and the scope of his unique achievement in literature. I got a signed copy of The Prague Cemetery for Christmas, and am looking forward to diving into that soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful