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The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by…

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

by Umberto Eco, Geoffrey Brock (Translator)

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3,917681,314 (3.33)96
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
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 96 mentions

English (56)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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 |
Vedere che i libri di Eco sono - escludendo l'outsider De Silva - tra De Carlo e Faletti, nella mia libreria, un poco mi inquieta. Eco, a differenza degli altri due, è ai miei occhi l'uomo che ha letto tutti i libri - non come Borges, ma insomma...

Loana vale per il ricordo - e l'eventuale nostalgia - di una vita giovanile borghese ambientata in Piemonte tra il 1930 ed il 1950. Cosa si leggeva, cosa si ascoltava, i fumetti, l'intorbidamento della realta' a cura dei mezzi di informazione, il fascismo dilagante nella vita quotidiana (come è attuale...), i divertimenti dei ragazzi, la pruderie degli adulti.
In chiosa a questo, un romanzo che si legge molto bene - e che si perde in un Magical Mistery Tour finale, che sembra servire solo per un necessario termine, nonchè per passerella finale delle comparse cartacee e non.

Le riflessioni religiose del vecchio maestro, ecco cos'altro salverei.

Nell'aere di tutto, l'adolescenziale ricordo di amori liceali di un settantenne colto, che ne parla troppo bene perche' sia solo fantasia - ed è un ricordo che appartiene a tutti gli uomini affetti da sindrome di Peter Pan. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Yambo lives in Milan and at 60 years of age has a stroke and wakes up with no memory of his own life, only memory of things he has read / learnt. This is clearly unsatisfactory and he sets out to try and recapture his memory. Fortunately, he is aided by an attic full of old magazines, comics, books and records at his family home in the mountains. And so begins a section of the novel that others have found tiresome, that of the reading of these old comics and books and listening to music from the past, noting when his heart skipped a beat over a particular item. While I understood the importance of doing this, was interested in the idea that even without what seems like a memory, something can still elicit a reaction from somewhere deeper in our brains and I enjoyed to some extent the way that Umberto Eco immersed the reader in this process and loved the illustrations, this section did go on for far too long for me and I was on the point of giving up when Umberto Eco took us on another turn and we were given memories, rather than supposition and once again I was hooked in to the story.
The novel is interesting for the stories from northern Italy in World War Two and what life was like at that time in a small village. The character of Yambo, although there throughout the novel, never quite shone through for me, perhaps because at the beginning he was someone with no personal memories and so I struggled to feel empathy with him. For me, the other lively characters were the maid and his assistant.
A clever idea for a novel and gives the reader thoughts on what memory is and how much this is part of us. The novel has a warmth and sense of fun that is human and engaging. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Dec 11, 2014 |
I had a real love-hate relationship with this book. I feel like it took me forever to finish it. When I first started reading, I thought, "Oh! This is a literary lover's delight!" because it had all these interesting, references--both familiar and foreign. As I got more into it, I started feeling like I was losing the story and it got a little hazy. That's when I started turning against the book. But, just as I was about ready to give up (Ok, so I wasn't actually going to stop reading when I was already over half way through, but it adds to the effect, you know?), I realized that the author wanted me to journey through the fog with Yambo. He does a bang-up job of putting you in a fog, with all the references to literature, pop culture, Italian history, and Mussolini, but in the end, I just loved the story, the way the book was written, and the emotional journey I went through. ( )
1 vote amyolivia | Oct 25, 2013 |
Umberto Eco has hits and misses, but this book is a hit. The narrator provides the reader with a first-hand look at life in Italy before, during, and after World War II, something not covered fully in many fiction works. The book is a history lesson, a love story, and a mystery novel all in one. Throughly entertaining and educational. ( )
  JLSmither | Aug 22, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Umberto Ecoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brock, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:01 -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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