“Underscores the writer’s profound erudition, lively wit, and passion for ideas of all shapes and sizes . . . Eco’s pleasure in such explorations is obvious and contagious.” — Booklist
Inventing the Enemy covers a wide range of topics on which Eco has written and lectured over the past ten years: from a disquisition on the theme that runs through his recent novel The Prague Cemetery — every country needs an enemy, and if it doesn’t have one, must invent it — to a discussion of ideas that have inspired his earlier novels (and in the process he takes us on an exploration of lost islands, mythical realms, and the medieval world); from indignant reviews of James Joyce’s Ulysses by fascist journalists of the 1920s and 1930s, to an examination of Saint Thomas Aquinas’s notions about the soul of an unborn child, to censorship and violence and WikiLeaks.
These are essays full of passion, curiosity, and obsession by one of the world’s most esteemed scholars and critically acclaimed, best-selling novelists.
“True wit and wisdom coexist with fierce scholarship inside Umberto Eco, a writer who actually knows a thing or two about being truly human.” — Buffalo News
"Thought provoking . . . nuanced . . . the collection amply shows off Eco's sophisticated, agile mind." — Publishers Weekly
Thought provoking and sometimes intimidating, this collection by Eco (The Name of the Rose) offers 14 occasional pieces writings produced for specific events from the past decade. While rooted in the disposition and lens of a humanities academic, Eco leaps enjoyably through topics, such as the human need for enemies; the beauty, importance, and history of fire; whether the fallout from WikiLeaks will require espionage technology to regress to a lonely street corner, at midnight. While mostly sticking to conventional essay formats, two humorous collage-style works (one on the danger of proverbs, another composed of Fascist critiques of Ulysses) also make for entertaining reads. Eschewing hyperbole, Eco s arguments are nuanced, reserved, and refreshingly lower-case conservative. Though he couches his ideas in accessible prose, the general subject matter may prove a stumbling block for some readers. Eco seems reluctant to clue in readers to helpful background information, as hinted at by many a snippet quotation in another language included without translation or elaboration. As such, some of the essays may only half-illuminate for a general readership. Still, the collection amply shows off Eco s sophisticated, agile mind and will undoubtedly bring pleasure to readers familiar with his worlds while enriching those willing to learn about them.