The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay

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Rizzoli, Nov 17, 2009 - Art - 408 pages
Best-selling author and philosopher Umberto Eco is currently resident at the Louvre, and his chosen theme of study is "the vertigo of lists." Reflecting on this enormous trove of human achievements, in his lyrical intellectual style he has embarked on an investigation of the phenomenon of cataloging and collecting. This book, featuring lavish reproductions of artworks from the Louvre and other world-famous collections, is a philosophical and artistic sequel to Eco’s recent acclaimed books, History of Beauty and On Ugliness, books in which he delved into the psychology, philosophy, history, and art of human forms. Eco is a modern-day Diderot, and here he examines the Western mind’s predilection for list-making and the encyclopedic. His central thesis is that in Western culture a passion for accumulation is recurring: lists of saints, catalogues of plants, collections of art. This impulse has recurred through the ages from music to literature to art. Eco refers to this obsession itself as a "giddiness of lists" but shows how in the right hands it can be a "poetics of catalogues." From medieval reliquaries to Andy Warhol’s compulsive collecting, Umberto Eco reflects in his inimitably inspiring way on how such catalogues mirror the spirit of their times.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jonfaith - www.librarything.com

The hefty portfolio concludes with a poem by Apollinaire and I found myself sighing and drifting again through the arresting collection of images. I read the sections by Burton, Pynchon and Calvino a number of times. This is a great book to keep at home, not designed for portability. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Laura400 - LibraryThing

This is definitely a book for Eco fans, not so much for a general reader. It tracks Eco's favorite themes and seems at least partially inspired by Borges. I enjoyed the book, but preferred the ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
7
The shield and its form
9
The list and the catalogue
15
Copyright

20 other sections not shown

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About the author (2009)

Umberto Eco, semiotician at the University of Bologna, is widely known as one of the finest living authors whose best-selling novels include The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, and Baudolino.

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