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The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco
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The Island of the Day Before (original 1994; edition 1996)

by Umberto Eco

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5,712431,085 (3.31)153
Member:jxn
Title:The Island of the Day Before
Authors:Umberto Eco
Info:Penguin Books (1996), Edition: Open market ed, Paperback, 514 pages
Collections:Your library, printbooks
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Work details

The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (Author) (1994)

  1. 10
    Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel (polutropon)
    polutropon: Sobel gives a less fantastical account than Eco of the quest to accurately determine longitude at sea, though it's surprising some of the proposals that Eco didn't have to concoct for narrative purposes.
  2. 00
    Mason & Dixon: A Novel by Thomas Pynchon (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Both are big beefy novels written in the waning of the 20th century, and concerned with the exploratory push of European powers (in early modernity and the Enlightenment, respectively), as well as the relationships between objective and subjective worlds.… (more)
  3. 11
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (hippietrail)
  4. 01
    Ex-Libris by Ross King (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: These books have some common themes, so may be enjoyed by the same people, but where Ex Libris is more of a "biblio-mystery", The Island of The Day Before is more of a general novel. Both books focus to a certain degree on the Age of Discovery, in the 17th Century, and the Longitude problem. They feature the historical conflicts, ships, and sailing, but this is perhaps where the similarities end. The Island of The Day before is better written, but whether you prefer the plot of one or the other will be due to personal preference. If you have an interest in the period, and enjoyed reading one, then I could recommend the other as a potential future read.… (more)
  5. 03
    Nation by Terry Pratchett (tronella)
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» See also 153 mentions

English (31)  Spanish (5)  French (4)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Fantastic and creative. Beautifully written. Some parts are a bit slow but it is worth to get through them. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Aug 17, 2018 |
I started reading this several years ago, but didn't finish. It's long, a little challenging to get the hang of the writing style (which I really liked once I did), and it was due back to the library. I was really enjoying it, and some day want to pick it up again. ( )
  Lit_Cat | Dec 9, 2017 |
Sparse on plot, this novel largely serves as a vehicle for ideas and discourse while Umberto Eco shares his astute knowledge of 17th century history, philosophy, religion and science. Much of the early portion takes place in Montferrat, a province of northern Italy where the author resided and that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continuing the story, it had me looking up information about Pacific explorers and the puzzle of longitude, Cardinal Richelieu, the Italian province of Piedmont, and numerous other trivia. His oft-used theme about truth versus fiction crops up again throughout, alongside seemingly everything else he has on his mind.

I was enjoying the framing story approach through its opening chapters, but I was in for a surprise halfway through when the backstory caught up with the present and many circumstantial mysteries were quickly dispensed with. This robbed the novel of its direction and the last hundred pages or so are almost aimless, bogged down by philosophical meandering which might be read as encroaching madness, ending on a somewhat unsatisfactory note that invites additional philosophical meandering on my own time beyond the final page. With little forward momentum and much reflection, this is a novel probably best read alongside something else and consumed in small morsels so as not to give way to impatience with Eco's playfulness. Not among his best, but not terrible if you have an appreciation for this author. ( )
  Cecrow | Nov 27, 2017 |
"I challenge anyone to find himself abandoned on a deserted ship, between sea and sky in a vast space, and not be ready to dream that in his great misfortune he at least has had the good fortune to stumble into the heart of time" (273).

The Island of the Day Before is a fantasy about fantasy, with a documentary conceit and no genuinely supernatural elements. Some details of the seventeenth-century science may now seem rather occult, but the essential metaphysics of the entire tale are very much of our world. It is a tale about a quest for the secret of determining longitude, and it seeks to celebrate the mystery of the antipodes in the paradoxes of an international date line.

Although this story was set a century earlier, I found it rather reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon. Both are big beefy novels written in the waning of the 20th century, and concerned with the exploratory push of European powers (in early modernity and the Enlightenment, respectively), as well as the relationships between objective and subjective worlds. But their titles show the biggest difference between the books. Mason & Dixon has two protagonists, and the surfeit of plot (to be expected from Pynchon) concerns their relationships to each other and their world. The insular Eco novel is instead nearly solipsistic in the extent to which characters other than the protagonist Roberto are practically reduced to figments of his imagination--the plot, such as it is, is largely in his reminiscences, dreams, and eventually, composed fictions.

The book is a long one, with many short chapters, and the slow pace of the plotting makes it easy to pick up and to put down. It took me more than a month to read it through. My two favorite chapters in the book could each stand on their own, and with particular reference to my occult interests. Chapter 26, "Delights for the Ingenious: A Collection of Emblems" is a long meditation on the symbolism of doves. Chapter 37, "Paradoxical Exercises Regarding the Thinking of Stones," is a contemplative demonstration of getting stoned in line with the discussion "On the Final Will" in Liber Aleph vel CXI.

The metafictional elements are pronounced in this novel, where the principal character himself ends up writing a "romance," in which his imagined half-brother and rival becomes his alter-ego. Eco makes both the opening and the closing of the book rather disorienting and unconventional, as part of his reflection on the composition of imaginative literature, and he uses the premise of working from a discovered three-hundred-year-old manuscript both to assert and to undermine the credibility of his story.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Jan 23, 2017 |
Manca copertina
  vecchiopoggi | Jan 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, UmbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boeke, YondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franssen, MaartenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krone, PattyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Is the Pacifique Sea my Home?

John Donne,
Hymne to God my God
Stolto! a cui parlo? Misero! Che tento?
Racconto il dolor mio
a l'insensata riva
a la mutola selce, al sordo vento . . .
Ahi, ch'altro non risponde
che il mormorar del'onde!

Giovan Battista Marino,
“Eco,” La Lira, XIX
Dedication
First words
I take pride withal in my humiliation, and as I am to this privilege condemned, almost I find joy in an abhorrent salvation; I am, I believe, alone of all our race, the only man in human memory to have been shipwrecked and cast up upon a deserted ship.
"Eppure m'inorgoglisco della mia umiliazione, e poiché a tal privilegio son condannato, quasi godo di un'abborrita salvezza: sono, credo, a memoria d'uomo, l'unico essere della nostra specie ad aver fatto naufragio su di un nave deserta."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Disambiguation notice
The 6 hour audiobook edition read by Tim Curry is an abridged edition and should not be combined with complete editions of the book. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156030373, Paperback)

After a violent storm in the South Pacific in the year 1643, Roberto della Griva finds himself shipwrecked-on a ship. Swept from the Amaryllis, he has managed to pull himself aboard the Daphne, anchored in the bay of a beautiful island. The ship is fully provisioned, he discovers, but the crew is missing.

As Roberto explores the different cabinets in the hold, he remembers chapters from his youth: Ferrante, his imaginary evil brother; the siege of Casale, that meaningless chess move in the Thirty Years' War in which he lost his father and his illusions; and the lessons given him on Reasons of State, fencing, the writing of love letters, and blasphemy.

In this fascinating, lyrical tale, Umberto Eco tells of a young dreamer searching for love and meaning; and of a most amazing old Jesuit who, with his clocks and maps, has plumbed the secrets of longitudes, the four moons of Jupiter, and the Flood.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:06 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A 17th Century Italian knight recounts his adventures during a siege in the Thirty Years' War and afterwards in naval espionage against the British. In between, he describes the salons of Paris, lessons in fencing and reasons of state, and gives his thoughts on writing love letters and on blasphemy.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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