The Limits of Interpretation

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Indiana University Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 295 pages

"Eco's essays read like letters from a friend, trying to share something he loves with someone he likes.... Read this brilliant, enjoyable, and possibly revolutionary book." —George J. Leonard, San Francisco Review of Books

"... a wealth of insight and instruction." —J. O. Tate, National Review

"If anyone can make [semiotics] clear, it's Professor Eco.... Professor Eco's theme deserves respect; language should be used to communicate more easily without literary border guards." —The New York Times

"The limits of interpretation mark the limits of our world. Umberto Eco's new collection of essays touches deftly on such matters." —Times Literary Supplement

"It is a careful and challenging collection of essays that broach topics rarely considered with any seriousness by literary theorists." —Diacritics

Umberto Eco focuses here on what he once called "the cancer of uncontrolled interpretation"—that is, the belief that many interpreters have gone too far in their domination of texts, thereby destroying meaning and the basis for communication.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - KirkLowery - LibraryThing

This book is a collection of 15 essays grouped around the subject: "Is there any limitation to how a reader may interpret a text?" Eco's answer is "yes." If nothing else, one may find -- not always ... Read full review

The limits of interpretation

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Primarily for specialists, this book by the best-selling author of In the Name of the Rose (who practiced semiotics long before fiction) is also largely theoretical, even though bolstered by ... Read full review


Two Models of Interpretation
Pragmaticism vs Pragmatism
The State of the Art
Small Worlds
Interpreting Serials
Interpreting Drama
Interpreting Animals
Abduction in Uqbar
Pirandello Ridens
Fakes and Forgeries
Semantics Pragmatics and Text Semiotics
A Fiction

A Portrait of the Elder as a Young Pliny
Joyce Semiosis and Semiotics

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About the author (1990)

Umberto Eco was born in Alessandria, Italy on January 5, 1932. He received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Turin in 1954. His first book, Il Problema Estetico in San Tommaso, was an extension of his doctoral thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas and was published in 1956. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was published in 1980 and won the Premio Strega and the Premio Anghiar awards in 1981. In 1986, it was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Prague Cemetery, and Numero Zero. He also wrote children's books and more than 20 nonfiction books including Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. He taught philosophy and then semiotics at the University of Bologna. He also wrote weekly columns on popular culture and politics for L'Espresso. He died from cancer on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84.

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