Serendipities: Language & Lunacy

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999 - Literary Collections - 129 pages
16 Reviews
Serendipities is a careful unraveling of the fabulous and the false, a brilliant exposition of how unanticipated truths often spring from false ideas. From Leibniz's belief that the I Ching illustrated the principles of calculus to Marco Polo's mistaking a rhinoceros for a unicorn, Umberto Eco offers a dazzling tour of intellectual history, illuminating the ways in which we project the familiar onto the strange to make sense of the world. Uncovering layers of mistakes that have shaped human history, Eco offers with wit and clarity such instances as Columbus's voyage to the New World, the fictions that grew around the Rosicrucians and Knights Templar, and the linguistic endeavors to recreate the language of Babel, to show how serendipities can evolve out of mistakes. With erudition, anecdotes, and scholarly rigor, this new collection of essays is sure to entertain and enlighten any reader with a passion for the curious history of languages and ideas.
 

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Review: Serendipities: Language and Lunacy

User Review  - Guillermo Pérez - Goodreads

Very interesting book, perhaps too much detail in some of the arguments but it does make its point. Some interesting developments in the history of sciences and human advancements as well as ... Read full review

Review: Serendipities: Language and Lunacy

User Review  - Stephan Frank - Goodreads

Hmm. A bit disappointing, as I have come to expect more from Eco. Probably, these essays could work much better as short lectures, accompanied maybe by a question and answers session. While the topics ... Read full review

Contents

2 LANGUAGES IN PARADISE
23
3 FROM MARCO POLO TO LEIBNIZ
53
4 THE LANGUAGE OF THE AUSTRAL LAND
77
5THE LINGUISTICS OF JOSEPH DE MAISTRE
96
Notes
117
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About the author (1999)

Umberto Eco is professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna.

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