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Umberto Eco : Philosophy, Semiotics and the Work of Fiction - Michael Caesar

Umberto Eco

Philosophy, Semiotics and the Work of Fiction

Paperback Published: 3rd August 1999
ISBN: 9780745608501
Number Of Pages: 208

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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. 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.

"It is a full, clear and authoritative account of Eco's work, with an emphasis on his development as a theorist and in particular his semiotic theory. But it includes a lively discussion of Eco'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 Eco's major works will be indispensable to scholars and students alike. Michael Caesar explores the interconnectedness of the 'theoretical' and 'narrative' writings with analytical rigour, balancing appreciation with careful criticism. Caesar makes brilliant use of his own reading of the works to discuss the 'role of the reader', showing the limits as well as the possibilities in Eco's approach to texts." Robert Lumley, Director of the Centre for Italian Studies, University College, London

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  

ISBN: 9780745608501
ISBN-10: 0745608507
Series: Key Contemporary Thinkers
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 3rd August 1999
Publisher: Polity Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 227.59 x 154.18  x 15.14
Weight (kg): 0.34
Edition Number: 1