The Book of Legendary Lands (Anglais) Relié – 5 novembre 2013
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"A book for people who, as children, pored gleefully over the maps of Oz and Earthsea, an atlas of the most surreal and fabulous imaginary places you've never been." -SFGate
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On the basis of Atlantis for example we see clearly that Umberto Eco did not just copy what others repeated already a thousand times. Rather did Umberto Eco find even in this controversial issue his own convincing path.
In detail on this example: For Eco, the history of the various Atlantis localizations is not - as so often - a menacing climax with National Socialism as culmination (wagging forefinger!). It is rather a journey through history with National Socialism as one stop of several. Olof Rudbeck, too, is no crackpot "baroque Nazi" for Eco but a serious baroque scholar, who just erred. Someone like Umberto Eco knows how to place these things properly, of course. In the video for the book the connection of Hyperborea (astonishingly not: Atlantis) to the Holocaust is drawn too closely: as if someone who reads and thinks about the ancient Hyperborea (resp. Atlantis) would become a National Socialist ... well, it is only the video, therefore let's forget it.
Let us leave the vexed and vain NS topic and come to Atlantis itself: Already in his "Foucault's Pendulum" Eco was pleasently reserved concerning Atlantis - this applies here, too. The Atlantis map of the baroque scholar Athanasius Kircher is called correctly a map of the "site" of Atlantis, not as a map which allegedly displays the exact shape of Atlantis. Also does Umberto Eco not repeat the terrible tale that Aristotle allegedly considered Plato's Atlantis explicitly to be an invention (cf. on the clarification of this common misconception: Franke: Aristotle and Atlantis, 2012). Also much more learned than the usual nonsense is Eco's opinion that assertions of the truth of a story since Lucian's "True History" sound like an indicator for a fictional story - this is well said: Since Lucian, but not yet in Plato's time!
As we can see with the Atlantis example, real quality is offered to the reader! This is not just a copy-paste collage labelled with "Umberto Eco", but this is really the polymath Umberto Eco himself who presents to the great pleasure of the reader the colourful variety of his knowledge about various legendary places in word and picture.
Seeing his knowledge of sources also explains how, for example, he creates believable and bizarre fictional worlds as well, such as that of Baudolino.
Another great book.
Humans have imagined the world in terms of fantasies beyond the sounds and sights we encounter. The glories of perfection and the horrors of damnation are recreated in the literature of all cultures. To name the location of these legends, ideas, and associations presents a remarkable understanding of their importance and influence on beliefs and actions of people. The Book of Legendary Lands serves as an excellent tool for readers of history,philosophy, art, religion, and geography. Practitioners of psychology, sociology, and all religions may also gain an understanding of the human mind and society. Of particular interest is the constancy of dystopia in so many cultures, and how humans construct ideas of the damned to perpetuate--- or challenge evil. The visual adventure of woodcuts, paintings, architecture, and maps empower the reader to comprehend the fantasies and ideals perpetuated in legends.
The illustrations alone can keep one happy for hours. The writing is as bright and illuminating as Eco's best. He seldom wastes words and can never be accused of verbosity. Always to the point, yet capable of beautiful speculative side tracks, he keeps one's thoughts amused,stimulated and sometimes surprised. There were quite a few "I never knew that" moments for me, but then my own is far removed from Eco's erudition.
This is the kind of book that lightens the weight of Winter afternoons or dismal nights. A joy to read, it is also a wonderful reference for those conversations that flounder on vague recollections of epic events in literature and life.