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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by…
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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (original 2004; edition 2006)

by Umberto Eco, Geoffrey Brock (Translator)

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4,034711,264 (3.33)105
Member:twitham
Title:The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Authors:Umberto Eco
Other authors:Geoffrey Brock (Translator)
Info:Mariner Books (2006), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:novel, fiction, Italian, books

Work details

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (2004)

  1. 00
    History of Beauty by Umberto Eco (WiJiWiJi)
  2. 01
    The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (freddlerabbit)
  3. 01
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Alixtii)
    Alixtii: Both books having writers getting meta about the nature of writing and reading as a protagonist goes through a process of reading very (and I mean very) many books. Both are written with wit and insight, although Eco's book is better.
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» See also 105 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
I had a real tough time with this one. I decided to read it because Umberto Eco had just passed away and I really enjoyed The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum and it happened to hit both letters for the March AlphaKIT. I was seriously thinking about the Pearl rule on this one, but I carried on.

The book is told from the point of view of Yambo, a bookseller who has had an 'incident' with the result that he has a strange case of memory loss - he can remember everything he has read, but not his personal memories. Part of the reason that I kept putting the book down is that I really didn't like Yambo very much. I think the only reason I would pick the book up again is because the other book I was dipping into was It's a Chick Thing, which I wasn't enjoying very much either. For the longest time nothing really happens. And then there is a part in the book where he is re-discovering his memories, and the most interesting part of the book for me (maybe the only interesting part) was when he re-tells a story from his boyhood during WWII where he helps some partisans escape from some German soldiers. I spent a lot of time skimming through this book, which I rarely do, but it was the only way for me to get through it. ( )
  LisaMorr | Apr 22, 2016 |
didn't read, recycled
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
I really enjoyed reading this book - however, it's not really a novel, but an extended essay on how media interacts with personal identity.
There are three parts; the first sets up the scenario: a middle-aged antiquarian book dealer has a selective form of amnesia: he can remember everything he's studied or read, but all of his personal and emotional memories are gone. The second part has to do with his looking through the contents of an attic, reading books, listening to music and going through the detritus of his youth, trying to gain knowledge of who he is. In the third part, now in a coma, his life passes through his memory, and we see how the items described in the middle part related to his life.
This structure is merely a skeleton for Eco to hang all sorts of ideas on, as through the lens of the media (which, one suspects, are actually the books, music and etc which influenced Eco himself) he discusses politics, religion and love (and lots of other things).
I think I'm going to go on to read some of Eco's non-fiction essays soon... ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I gave up on this book partway through. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I understood all of the Italian cultural references. The book is rife with references to other works and it is fun to test your cultural knowledge by seeing which ones you can pick out, but it can also make the progress of the plot opaque and confusing when you don't share the author's point of reference. On the other hand, only Umberto Eco could describe going poop in a vineyard in a moving and lyrical way. He brings this mastery to a fascinating premise for a book: a man has lost his memory and we join him on his journey to recapture it. What is it like? Eco proceeds with a delicate touch that revels in discovering toothpaste and other miracles of daily life for the first time. This is a wonderful book, but difficult for an American audience. ( )
  BethHatchel | Oct 31, 2015 |
This is not an easy book to read thoroughly, made up of innumerable references to various artefacts of the past and many books, all carefully examined by the narrator, Bodoni or Yambo, in order to spark something to help him to recover his memory of the personal side of his life. It’s not surprising that this was a very expensive book when it was first published as it has many colour illustrations in it although many of them are so small that I can’t relate them easily to the detailed descriptions of the in the text.

It seems to me to be a self-indulgent work by Eco, with presumably most of the artefacts having some meaning for the author himself. While the examination of how far memory is important for a person to feel their humanity is certainly an interesting and substantial theme for the novel, I felt that the unendingly lavish home of Yambo, with all its artefacts preserved, was just too much. I also wondered a little at the translation at times. For example, when the somewhat clichéd loyal servant, the aged Amalia is asked by Yambo about the layout of the rooms in the house and if her wing of the house abuts his grandfather’s, she replies ‘It sure does’ which sounds very much like contemporary American to me, not the choice of words a rural woman living in the past would use.

Retracing as well the struggles in Italy during the Second World War, this book might have more appeal for Eco’s countrymen but I did not feel engaged, partly because I did not feel drawn to the narrator and his obsessions with various women despite his marriage to Paola. No doubt I have unfairly reduced the scope of the novel and not done the book justice but I felt Eco expected too much of the reader. ( )
  evening | Jan 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Umberto Ecoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brock, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerritsen, RobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlot, HennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is a wiki annotation page for this novel at: http://queenloana.wikispaces.com/
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156030438, Paperback)

The premise of Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, may strike some readers as laughably unpromising, and others as breathtakingly rich. A sixty-ish Milanese antiquarian bookseller nicknamed Yambo suffers a stroke and loses his memory of everything but the words he has read: poems, scenes from novels, miscellaneous quotations. His wife Paola fills in the bare essentials of his family history, but in order to trigger original memories, Yambo retreats alone to his ancestral home at Solara, a large country house with an improbably intact collection of family papers, books, gramophone records, and photographs. The house is a museum of Yambo's childhood, conventiently empty of people, except of course for one old family servant with a long memory--an apt metaphor for the mind. Yambo submerges himself in these artifacts, rereading almost everything he read as a school boy, blazing a meandering, sometimes misguided, often enchanting trail of words. Flares of recognition do come, like "mysterious flames," but these only signal that Yambo remembers something; they do not return that memory to him. It is like being handed a wrapped package, the contents of which he can only guess.

Within the limitations of Yambo's handicap and quest, Eco creates wondrous variety, wringing surprise and delight from such shamelessly hackneyed plot twists as the discovery of a hidden room. Illustrated with the cartoons, sheet music covers, and book jackets that Yambo uncovers in his search, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana can be read as a love letter to literature, a layered excavation of an Italian boyhood of the 1940s, and a sly meditation on human consciousness. Both playful and reverent, it stands with The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before as among Eco's most successful novels. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Having suffered a complete loss of memory regarding every aspect of his own identity, rare book dealer Yambo withdraws to a family home nested between Milan and Turin, where he sorts through boxes of old records and experiences memories in the form of a graphic novel.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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