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The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco

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

by Umberto Eco

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5,867461,106 (3.31)156
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

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. 00
    The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: There's an interesting connection to be found here.
  4. 11
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (hippietrail)
  5. 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)
  6. 03
    Nation by Terry Pratchett (tronella)

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» See also 156 mentions

English (34)  Spanish (5)  French (4)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Mesmerizing in scope and intensity. One of the best Eco books I've read yet. ( )
  DanielSTJ | May 5, 2019 |
I read this one in the late 90s, bought a copy for my best friend shortly thereafter. I saw Ray Rizzo with a copy one evening at Ramsi's, I told him I enjoyed it and replied that he was eager for the challenge. He later played with Days of the New. Oh, those 90s! It was all optimism and challenges were there. Hubris was our cocktail. Our survival surprises me when I consider such. I should reread this ribald novel quite soon. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This was the fun kind of postmodernist novel. Not as ebullient as Calvino or Borges, but more deliberate, more focused. Clever, but not insufferably so.

The island of the day before is set in the 1630s-40s. Its frame story deals with Roberto de la Grive, minor Italian nobleman, who is shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean, but manages to end up on board of an abandoned vessel anchored between two islands. Because he can’t swim, he is confined to its decks, thus prompting him to comment he has been shipwrecked on a ship (f you like that sort of snarkiness, this book has plenty of that). Fortunately, the ship is well-stocked with food, water, a scientist’s collection of birds and plants, and a room full of clocks. Roberto settles in for a few weeks. In order to maintain his sanity, he starts writing letters to the girl he loves, which soon becomes a diary of sorts, which turns into his biography, which turns into a thriller of 17thC mercantile espionage.

Eco has a lot of fun with this setup, and spins it off into an astonishing diversity of chapters. Portions of the book read like a dramatic episode in the history of the city of Casale, in northern Italy, where Roberto served in his father’s army. The chapters most like a spy thriller feature Roberto’s long-lost evil twin, who may or may not be imaginary, and a supporting character from Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (which is set in the 1620s). There’s editorial chapters and asides, where an unnamed editor tries to make sense of Roberto’s writings as his state of mind deteriorates. Particularly enjoyable, I thought, were the chapters where Eco positively wallows in imitations of 17thC writings, their styles and their tropes -- I adore the exhaustive compilation of things that may be symbolized by the dove and the attempt to present all of that as one coherent idea. Finally, and, perhaps most impressively, many chapters deal with debates and conflicts from contemporary philosophy, theology and science, presented as learned discussions by experts in their respective fields. These chapters are where Eco really captured 17thC mentalities: how people thought, and why they did so, and why that adds up to a coherent worldview, dove-metaphors and all.

All of this adds up to a wonderful book that revels in its erudition and its own cleverness, and that has absolutely earned that right. It’s uneven in places -- Eco does sometimes let his obsessions go on for a tad too long -- but it’s never boring. ( )
2 vote Petroglyph | Oct 12, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, UmbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boeke, YondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franssen, MaartenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krone, PattyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lozano MIralles, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, TuulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
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."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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.
Publisher's editors
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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 panoramic historical novel set in the seventeenth century follows a young aristocrat who goes to sea to find love and an old Jesuit with a boundless scientific knowledge.

» see all 5 descriptions

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