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The Limits of Interpretation


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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Two Models of Interpretation
2. Unlimited Semiosis and Drift Pragmaticism vs. "Pragmatism"
3. Intentio Lectoris: The State of the Art
4. Small Worlds
5. Interpreting Serials
6. Interpreting Drama
7. Interpreting Animals
8. A Portrait of the Elder as a Young Pliny
9. Joyce, Semiosis, and Semiotics
10. Abduction in Uqbar
11. Pirandello Ridens
12. Fakes and Forgeries
13. Semantics, Pragmatics, and Text Semiotics
14. Presuppositions
15. On Truth: A FictionReferences

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Accessible, irreverent literary criticism by one of the world's best-known novelist/scholars.


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 illustrations and demonstrations that focus on aspects of Joyce, Pirandello, Borges, and Pliny the Younger. The theoretical portions discuss the theories of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine as well as modern thinkers such as Derrida; this unusual blend of references, along with a playfully academic humor, is characteristic of Eco. He argues that, while there may be no rules for determining which interpretations of a text are best, there are rules for determining which are bad. These 15 essays, written mostly in the past five years, deal with fakes and forgeries, serials, dramas, animals, and some fairly abstruse semiotic topics. They are all profitably accessible to the sophisticated general reader, though Eco's penchant for analyzing things into ``subsystems and subsystems of subsystems'' can lead to long, drawn out passages.-- Richard Kuczkowski, Do minican Coll., Blauvelt, N.Y.

"Instead of that tone of constipated envy we associate with criticism, Eco's essays read like letters from a friend, trying to share something he loves with someone he likes. Try it, you'll like it, it's easy, you can understand it. He doesn't teach, he shares... Read this brilliant, enjoyable, and possibly revolutionary book. --George J. Leonard, San Francisco Review of Books "... this book discourses brilliantly on Pirandello, on Joyce, on Borges, and rewards the attention paid to it with a wealth of insight and instruction." --J. O. Tate, National Review "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 "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

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