From the review:
“Often the object of a desire, when desire is transformed into hope, becomes more real than reality itself.”
Celebrated Italian novelist, philosopher, essayist, literary critic, and list-lover Umberto Eco has had a long fascination with the symbolic and the metaphorical, extending all the way back to his vintage semiotic children’s books. Half a century later, he revisits the mesmerism of the metaphorical and the symbolic in The Book of Legendary Lands (public library) — an illustrated voyage into history’s greatest imaginary places, with all their fanciful inhabitants and odd customs, on scales as large as the mythic continent Atlantis and as small as the fictional location of Sherlock Holmes’s apartment. A dynamic tour guide for the human imagination, Eco sets out to illuminate the central mystery of why such utopias and dystopias appeal to us so powerfully and enduringly, what they reveal about our relationship with reality, and how they bespeak the quintessential human yearning to make sense of the world and find our place in it — after all, maps have always been one of our greatest sensemaking mechanisms for life, which we’ve applied to everything from the cosmos to time to emotional memory.
Eco writes in the introduction:
Legendary lands and places are of various kinds and have only one characteristic in common: whether they depend on ancient legends whose origins are lost in the mists of time or whether they are an effect of a modern invention, they have created flows of belief.
The reality of these illusions is the subject of this book.
Definitely going to the top of my wish list!
Tolkien did with the Hobbit but for all of its power, it has never, to my knowledge, influenced a United States Congress appropriations bill.
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that successful utopias are possible but it is difficult to calculate their success and/or impact.
In any event, I am looking forward to spending serious time with The Book of Legendary Lands.
PS: For the library students among us, the subject classifications given by WorldCat:
- Geographical myths in literature.
- Geographical myths in art — Pictorial works.
- Geographical myths.
- Art and literature.
- Geographical myths in art.
I haven’t gotten a copy of the book, yet, but that looks really impoverished to me. If I am looking for materials on reality, belief, social consensus, social fabric, legends, etc. I am going to miss this book in your library?