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In Six Walks in the Fictional Woods Umberto Eco shares with us his Secret Life as a reader--his love for MAD magazine, for Scarlett O'Hara, for the nineteenth-century French novelist Nerval's Sylvie, for Little Red Riding Hood, Agatha Christie, Agent 007 and all his ladies. We see, hear, and feel Umberto Eco, the passionate reader who has gotten lost over and over again in In Six Walks in the Fictional Woods Umberto Eco shares with us his Secret Life as a reader--his love for MAD magazine, for Scarlett O'Hara, for the nineteenth-century French novelist Nerval's Sylvie, for Little Red Riding Hood, Agatha Christie, Agent 007 and all his ladies. We see, hear, and feel Umberto Eco, the passionate reader who has gotten lost over and over again in the woods, loved it, and come back to tell the tale, The Tale of Tales. Eco tells us how fiction works, and he also tells us why we love fiction so much. This is no deconstructionist ripping the veil off the Wizard of Oz to reveal his paltry tricks, but the Wizard of Art himself inviting us to join him up at his level, the Sorcerer inviting us to become his apprentice.


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In Six Walks in the Fictional Woods Umberto Eco shares with us his Secret Life as a reader--his love for MAD magazine, for Scarlett O'Hara, for the nineteenth-century French novelist Nerval's Sylvie, for Little Red Riding Hood, Agatha Christie, Agent 007 and all his ladies. We see, hear, and feel Umberto Eco, the passionate reader who has gotten lost over and over again in In Six Walks in the Fictional Woods Umberto Eco shares with us his Secret Life as a reader--his love for MAD magazine, for Scarlett O'Hara, for the nineteenth-century French novelist Nerval's Sylvie, for Little Red Riding Hood, Agatha Christie, Agent 007 and all his ladies. We see, hear, and feel Umberto Eco, the passionate reader who has gotten lost over and over again in the woods, loved it, and come back to tell the tale, The Tale of Tales. Eco tells us how fiction works, and he also tells us why we love fiction so much. This is no deconstructionist ripping the veil off the Wizard of Oz to reveal his paltry tricks, but the Wizard of Art himself inviting us to join him up at his level, the Sorcerer inviting us to become his apprentice.

30 review for Six Walks in the Fictional Woods

  1. 5 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    There are woods like Dublin, where instead of Little Red Riding Hood one can meet Molly Bloom… Woods are a metaphor for the narrative text. This is a metaphor invented by Jorge Luis Borges, where wood is a garden of forking paths and you, reader, can trace your own path. Have you ever wondered who the person reading a book really is? One can say, of course, it’s a reader. Bah, it's not so simple. But what kind of reader? In this collection of brilliant and erudite, sparkling with wit essays Eco There are woods like Dublin, where instead of Little Red Riding Hood one can meet Molly Bloom… Woods are a metaphor for the narrative text. This is a metaphor invented by Jorge Luis Borges, where wood is a garden of forking paths and you, reader, can trace your own path. Have you ever wondered who the person reading a book really is? One can say, of course, it’s a reader. Bah, it's not so simple. But what kind of reader? In this collection of brilliant and erudite, sparkling with wit essays Eco is our guide to fictional wood. Introduces to us the whole system of distinctions between reader and an author as well. Empirical reader for example is that one who treats the text as a link to own emotions and personal associations. Meanwhile fictional wood is not our private garden, it's a public sphere and there are some rules here. And so we come to a model reader. It’s that one ready to play with author. This is obviously not the end of the distinctions, the model one may be the first level reader - who just wants to know how the story ends (does Ahab get a whale ?). Or second level one, which asks and wants to understand. To be the first one it’s enough to read the novel, in the second case, the text requires a multiple reading, and sometimes long-term studies. Similar distinctions apply to authors. Empirical, model, narrator. Although let us not be misled. Is there always a first-person narration the voice of the author ? G. P. Woodhouse wrote once memoirs of the dog written in the first person. And what is that supposed to mean ? In those lectures Eco on example of the works of Sterne, Joyce, Nerval, Poe, Kafka, Flaubert and many others analyzes narrative techniques and literary tricks. Introduces us to the time plans, real time and narrative one, the concept of flashbacks and flashforwards, says, quoting Gerard Genette that,a flasback seems to make up for something the author has forgotten whereas the flashforward is a manifestation of narrative impatience ; talks about contemporary theories of narrative, using terms like story, plot and discourse. Writes about the delay of action, digressions and suspension of disbelief to finally muse about something what could be named the total novel, in which fictional characters freely migrate from one text to another. Vienna, 1950 ... Rick goes on with his account: when he triumphantly entered Paris with Captain Renault, as a member of De Gaulle’s liberating army, he heard about certain Dragon Lady ( allegedly the assassin of Robert Jordan during the Spanish Civil War ), whom the Secret Service had put on the trial of the falcon. She should be here any minute. The door opens and a woman appears .” Ilsa!“ Rick cries .“Brigid !” Sam Spade cries.“Anna Schmidt !” Lime cries.“ Miss Scarlett !” Sam cries ,“ you’re back ! Don’t make my boss suffer any more “ . Out of the darkness of the bar comes a man with a sarcastic smile on his face. It’s Philip Marlowe . “Let’s go , Miss Marple “, he says to the woman. “ Father Brown is waiting for us on Baker Street “. Let me stay in that wood for a while ...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. -- Umberto Eco Six Walks in the Fictional Woods records a series of lectures that Professor Eco delivered in 1993. The concern is narrative and the distance between fictional truth and actual or historical truth. This is but one target in the copse of topics. The ideal reader is but another. Joyce is quoted saying that the ideal reader for Finnegans Wake would have an ideal insomnia. The By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. -- Umberto Eco Six Walks in the Fictional Woods records a series of lectures that Professor Eco delivered in 1993. The concern is narrative and the distance between fictional truth and actual or historical truth. This is but one target in the copse of topics. The ideal reader is but another. Joyce is quoted saying that the ideal reader for Finnegans Wake would have an ideal insomnia. There are also distinctions made between a level one read (pleasure seeker) and a second level of reader which is a more serious bent, one seeking verisimilitude amidst a tangle of symbols and allusions. These are enjoyable tangents across the face of fiction, A scholar's wink to the necessity of narrative. Eco states so at the collection's conclusion. "It offers us the opportunity to employ limitlessly our faculties for perceiving the world and reconstructing the past."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vio

    I own this particular book since 2000, I remember reading a good part of it, but cannot say why I haven't finished it at the time. I read it this week and it was a fascinating reading. The book comprise six lectures Umberto Eco gave at Harvard. I wonder how the participants at those lectures might have been influenced by them. It got a little on my nerves with Nerval (well, pardon), but if you feel like skipping the book altogether, let me recommend you at least the last part/lecture, since it con I own this particular book since 2000, I remember reading a good part of it, but cannot say why I haven't finished it at the time. I read it this week and it was a fascinating reading. The book comprise six lectures Umberto Eco gave at Harvard. I wonder how the participants at those lectures might have been influenced by them. It got a little on my nerves with Nerval (well, pardon), but if you feel like skipping the book altogether, let me recommend you at least the last part/lecture, since it contains some marvelous summarizing of the most infamous conspiracy theories, delivered to you in a most scientific yet comprehensible form by Eco. PS One of the few times where I didn't bother to correct the horrendous amount of typos. One can still read the book and, I don't know, maybe those were the standards in editing a book in 1997, like none, but still, I would be very ashamed, Editura Pontica.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Naia Pard

    This was a nice little book that reads as if you are scrolling down a very well put together page of Goodreads. In the sense that the author talks, in a flow of his own accord, about books that he had read and makes some assumptions based on his knowledge in literary studies. "The readerly process of making predictions constitutes a necessary emotional aspect of reading which brings into play hopes and fears, as well as the tension that derives from our identification with the fate of the charac This was a nice little book that reads as if you are scrolling down a very well put together page of Goodreads. In the sense that the author talks, in a flow of his own accord, about books that he had read and makes some assumptions based on his knowledge in literary studies. "The readerly process of making predictions constitutes a necessary emotional aspect of reading which brings into play hopes and fears, as well as the tension that derives from our identification with the fate of the characters” In addition, the book contains some figures (sketches, drawings) that are helpful (if not for better exemplifying the argument, at least for alleviating the sense of boredom). Instagram\\my Blog\\

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Eco spends a lot of time dissecting Nerval, Sue, and Manzoni. I've never read these people, because I am an Ignorant American. C'est la vie. I still tried to get what I could out of Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. And it was a fair amount. His examples were opaque, but his insight on the experience of reading and writing is profound, and his conception of the reader-writer relationship is elegantly assembled. If you at all care about how we as humans relate to books, you'll find something to ap Eco spends a lot of time dissecting Nerval, Sue, and Manzoni. I've never read these people, because I am an Ignorant American. C'est la vie. I still tried to get what I could out of Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. And it was a fair amount. His examples were opaque, but his insight on the experience of reading and writing is profound, and his conception of the reader-writer relationship is elegantly assembled. If you at all care about how we as humans relate to books, you'll find something to appreciate here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Meh. Started 2 stars, in the middle 4 stars, and then finished with 3 stars. Final rating: 3.3 stars. Will re-read it again soon - will try to find something in it that I didn't find now. Meh. Started 2 stars, in the middle 4 stars, and then finished with 3 stars. Final rating: 3.3 stars. Will re-read it again soon - will try to find something in it that I didn't find now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ade Bailey

    Wonderful and beautiful. Six lectures. like six walks with a fascinating companion who’s courteous, humorous gentle with the reader. He’s erudite, of course, but his insights come unforced and ‘natural’. Natural ‘talking’ as opposed to ‘articificial’ – one of the dyads he mentions in passing almost as a casual observation about fictional theory. The only demand he asks of his ‘model’ reader is attention 0 and, well, fascination. It feels inappropriate to say much about anything where Eco is conce Wonderful and beautiful. Six lectures. like six walks with a fascinating companion who’s courteous, humorous gentle with the reader. He’s erudite, of course, but his insights come unforced and ‘natural’. Natural ‘talking’ as opposed to ‘articificial’ – one of the dyads he mentions in passing almost as a casual observation about fictional theory. The only demand he asks of his ‘model’ reader is attention 0 and, well, fascination. It feels inappropriate to say much about anything where Eco is concerned since he says it all so perfectly, and I think no matter how nuanced the reading the nuances of the writing may well be missed. One could say must be missed, for the woods are not some well-ordered landscape manufacture but “Sacred…tangled and twisted like the forests of the Druids.” In any case, anything I or anybody else says about this or any other text is at best an interesting, or even useful, diagram but nothing like the richly experiential, one may – or may not – appeal to the noumenal - immersion within the woods, within the text. I’d say that if you only read one page of this book read the last one to see what ‘immersion’ and precision may mean. There are interesting methods that can be learned for approaching fiction if one takes one refraction of Eco’s book, one thin layer, as a guide. I’ve suggested this in practice by glimpsing Dermot Healy through a few of the ways. In particular, the dyads of model reader and empirical reader, the use of a text and the interpretation of a text are seminal. I’ll be returning to the empirical reader as the substance of this post. Suffice it to say that the attention Eco requests from his reader is a requirement to realise the distinction between empirical usage of a text for whatsoever pleasure or other employment a reader may make, and a nuanced sensibility to a text (which does not, of course, exhaust a text’s possibilities: he has been returning to his beloved Sylvie year upon year). Not surprisingly, another dyad is the fiction-truth twinship that wriggles, writhes, and spreads rhizomes throughout the woods – for I as empirical reader may, even as model reader, legitimately take with me on my walks not only my own memories but the collective memories of my ancestors including Deleuze or whomsoever. There is a type of mainly male psyche which I shall be looking at in a later review of A Goat’s Song which is angrily opposed to ‘mere fiction’ and thereby an unconscious victim to the personal and cultural fictional narratives that effect subjectivity (including, a point Eco makes merely in passing, the subjective narrative of continuing self). As Eco’s lecture series reaches its final point, the fact that a knowledge of narrativity is absent moves from being innocent to being deadly serious. In an early lecture he suggests that the ‘completion’ of narrative against the messiness and contradictoriness of the world was behind much of the appeal of fiction, myth (and, I think, by implication art generally, including poetry). I marked the passage in rather angry pencil; in my brain I etched cliche, and ‘depoliticised speech’. Yet as the series moved on it came as no surprise that Eco began by asking at the start of his final lecture whether the world could be read as fiction, and whether a ‘work’ of fiction could be constructed to represent the actual (non-neat narratological) mess of living. Swiftly moving through some interesting asides about language and theories of the semiotic-narrative (and I think he was resurrecting tthe possibility of looking again at the idea of grammar’s fundamental axis around activity, that each sentence is a story), he relates the dreadful history of the fictions-as-truths beginning with the Knights Templar of the fourteenth century, through the Rosicruceans, Scottish Freemasons, Jesuits, and all the other stuff – read it, it’s only a few pages – to that dreadful moment of protofascism beginning in nineteenth century France, informing Germany and with us still today in an ugly and terrifying antisemitism. This empirical reader sees fiction as too important to be ignored by the ideology of fact cataloguing. It is good and human to move back the other way, to that innocence and beauty, the thrill of walking in the woods. We need consoling fictions too, the ones that are neat and well ordered, the way we would like life to be. It’s important too that we know the other end of the spectrum. Life is a struggle, it’s political and ends with death. As Eco ends his sixth lecture: “..since life is cruel, for you and for me, here I am.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Felicity

    Nominally a book about reading, this collection of six lectures by Umberto Eco also yields insight into writing. Philosophical, thought-provoking, but often funny, the lectures use literary examples from Dumas, Nerval and Flaubert, but also from Fleming and Christie. It considers the way fiction manipulates us, the way we use fiction, and even the ways we expect or force our world to conform to narrative. Fascinating.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    This is my kind of book. That means that it combines reading with philosophy, providing the reader with enough thought-provoking moments and reading ideas to last half a lifetime. Add to that the wonder and beauty of Umberto Eco's prose and you have a gem of a book. It is not surprising that this is another in the series of Charles Eliot Norton lectures that have given us great short works by such literary masters as Milosz, Steiner and Pamuk, to name only three. Eco's lessons include arguing th This is my kind of book. That means that it combines reading with philosophy, providing the reader with enough thought-provoking moments and reading ideas to last half a lifetime. Add to that the wonder and beauty of Umberto Eco's prose and you have a gem of a book. It is not surprising that this is another in the series of Charles Eliot Norton lectures that have given us great short works by such literary masters as Milosz, Steiner and Pamuk, to name only three. Eco's lessons include arguing that when reading fiction the author's biography is not relevant or suggesting that the reader be aware of the potential confusions of fiction and real life when reading. There are more lessons and examples in this short book than many longer ones, but that is just another sign of the quality of Eco's essays. I highly recommend this to serious and fun-loving readers everywhere.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mirek Jasinski

    Superb lectures by one of my favourite writers. Perhaps it is a sign, that I should reread his books as an ideal reader. Gosh, I remember visiting Musée des arts et métiers in December 1989, after reading Foucault's Pendulum. Superb lectures by one of my favourite writers. Perhaps it is a sign, that I should reread his books as an ideal reader. Gosh, I remember visiting Musée des arts et métiers in December 1989, after reading Foucault's Pendulum.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    3.5 stars. I bought this book in part because I am a fan of Umberto Eco, In part because of the reviews and because I like learning from writers what they think readers should know. I wanted to like this book. Mostly I am frustrated by it. I understand why others are impressed with it. Perhaps you will appreciate a contrasting opinion. I cannot compare this work to Aristotle's Poetics as another review can, I will compare it to Vladimir Nabokov's Lectures on Literature. Both works are publications 3.5 stars. I bought this book in part because I am a fan of Umberto Eco, In part because of the reviews and because I like learning from writers what they think readers should know. I wanted to like this book. Mostly I am frustrated by it. I understand why others are impressed with it. Perhaps you will appreciate a contrasting opinion. I cannot compare this work to Aristotle's Poetics as another review can, I will compare it to Vladimir Nabokov's Lectures on Literature. Both works are publications made from lecture material by two established writers and thinkers. Both sets of lectures are intended to inform readers on how to better go about the work of being a reader. Nabokov and Eco are very nearly contemporaries. However Nabokov is best known as a writer and latterly as an instructor of literature. Eco is primarily a semiotic given to highly esoteric analysis and `only' latterly as an author of popular novels. Both Eco's Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, and Nabokov's Lectures on literature require a reader ready to work. Ultimately Nabokov is interesting in teaching and assisting. Eco is interested in name dropping, intellectual clutter, being clever and occasionally insightful. There are very good points in both books. I can recommend them both. I have more reservations with and frustrations with Eco. Eco begins with several points about types of readers and writers. Once he settles in he has presented two basic approaches to reading. There are empirical readers, who want a literal, factual recitation and who are given to anticipating where an author it going to take the story. Alternately there are model readers who are open to whatever the author has to say and will follow behind the narrative limiting themselves to imagining only what the writer presents. This concept is divided into a few more types of model readers and there is some discussion of model writers but mostly these sets of complexities disappear. The initial concept is lost in a discussion how many or few detail the writer should include. Fundamentally this is about 5 pages of material to make a one page point. Here I suggest that the more pro-active mind of the empirical reader is a tool that a good writer can use either to trick the reader or to speed the reading processes. Absent a model reader, a writer will need `sell' his every point and invention. That is distinguishing these two types of reader makes for a fine intellectual point, but makes little advance on becoming a more aware reader. Eco next introduces a concept parallel to and equally interesting as one made by Nabokov. Lectures on Literature argues the need for a reader to fully comprehend the space- the literary geography created by the author. Nabokov makes maps exactly from the text in his example books; be it the room where Kafka's Gregor Samsa finds himself turned into a beetle or the grounds around Jane Austin's Mansfield Park. Eco would have you spend as much effort on exactly defining the flow of time in a work. There is a two page example of how this chronology would appear and again there is a typology for the several kinds of time that are involved in a narrative. For example the time it takes the reader to read a section and the flow of time detailed in the narrative. The case for both approaches are equally valid, but re-reading books until you have both time and space mapped out sounds like a guaranteed method to take the pleasure out of reading. Teacher, is it ok if I am mindful of these details and finish with a book before reducing it to its mechanical parts? Do we now need to create a literary altimeter to help us determine the distance between Dante's Hell below the reader and a Tom Clancy satellite in space? Eco will expend most of a lecture on a problem in the Three Musketeers based on the impossibility of d'Artagnen taking a walk in detailed in the book and during the 17th Century Paris of the book, and arriving on the Rue Sarvadoni. Eco's point is that readers need to have rational mental points of reference if they are to follow the imaginary details of the writer's fiction. It is of passing interest that Eco adopts Nabokov's technique of making a map, but Eco makes his from a real Paris, whereas Nabokov restricts himself to the reality of the writer. Nabokov simplifies his argument by saying that in fiction: reality is what the writer needs it to be. The closest Eco come to being this direct is when he reminds the reader of the implied contract between writer and reader, termed: `Willing suspension of disbelief'. What happens to Eco's case if Dumas simply made a cartographic error and no one thought to check a street map much less to edit the text? Eco ends with a great question. Simplified, and this book needs to be simplified: If presented with a set of pages, that relate a story; how can a reader determine if the story is fictional or factual. Eco admits that hypothetically, the narrative can be so constructed that no such determination can be made. An included discussion of how a person's mind uses a techniques to add new information, called stories, to old stories to build an understanding of reality and that this same techniques shapes a reader's ability to accept or reject a writer's reality, Eco makes the following statement: "We accept a story that our ancestors have handed down to us as being true, even though today we call these ancestors scientists" I hope that this statement means something else in Umberto Eco's native Italian. It carries no meaning to me. There are other examples of these kinds of strange statements. Both Eco's and Nabokov lectures are worth reading. They complement each other. Eco is frustrating. He is given to more abstruse and academic thinking. Six Walks in the Fictional Woods should have been better

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaka

    Wonderfully insightful. Eco's exact, descriptive style comes across almost better in essays than it does in novels. The book mainly deals with our perception of real life and fiction and how we tend to interconnect the two - also why it is important for us to interconnect the two and what bad consequences could follow when one understands a work of fiction too literally. Consequently it also subtly deals with philosophical approaches to how writers construct their world upon a notion of reality Wonderfully insightful. Eco's exact, descriptive style comes across almost better in essays than it does in novels. The book mainly deals with our perception of real life and fiction and how we tend to interconnect the two - also why it is important for us to interconnect the two and what bad consequences could follow when one understands a work of fiction too literally. Consequently it also subtly deals with philosophical approaches to how writers construct their world upon a notion of reality and why one would use fictional elements instead of elements taken from real life (and vice versa). The bottom line is that this book will confirm you the importance of fiction even for a human being living in a tempestuous age that is 21st century and how it could help us orientate amidst all the information that we are given. Eco also quotes some of his favourite works and states why those are his favourites - great if you want to get some good book recommendations! Eco is really a master and writes in such a manner to shine light upon relevance of a certain subject. His style is in my opinion so much more appropriate for essays than it is for novels (despite he has written some amazing novels) because he writes in an exact, descriptive style that is pretty conversational in its nature. Great read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emma Iadanza

    I absolutely love Umberto Eco, and I absolutely love almost everything described on the back of this book. And I have not much else to say except that this was a fascinating look at books - from the perspective of the reader, the author, and ... God, I suppose? Or some other outside force. Even being an author myself, I've never taken the time to think about who my "ideal" reader is, and who I am, or anything like that. But Umberto Eco's lectures were so fascinating, they made me look at literatu I absolutely love Umberto Eco, and I absolutely love almost everything described on the back of this book. And I have not much else to say except that this was a fascinating look at books - from the perspective of the reader, the author, and ... God, I suppose? Or some other outside force. Even being an author myself, I've never taken the time to think about who my "ideal" reader is, and who I am, or anything like that. But Umberto Eco's lectures were so fascinating, they made me look at literature/writing of all sorts in a completely different life. The metaphor of "woods" as literature was a very cool concept. The only problem I did have with this book was that I haven't read many of the things he mentioned (most notably Sylvie, which he talks about for an entire lecture!). But, I should read them, and then reread this book! In any case, he's very well read and worldly in almost all things, and I greatly appreciate the fact that he exists. Thank you, Umberto Eco! I wish I could've been there to see you give these lectures.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    An attempt to list lessons learned and thoughts provoked from this book might very well produce the manuscript. After reading The Name of the Rose 5 times over the last 10 years this was a refreshing shot at Umberto in the under 1000 pages venue. As always, he challenges me personally not only from a writers perspective, but also philosophically, and especially metaphysically. An elegant read with a bittersweet ending as close to life itself. It's also strewn with the delicate humor of a philosoph An attempt to list lessons learned and thoughts provoked from this book might very well produce the manuscript. After reading The Name of the Rose 5 times over the last 10 years this was a refreshing shot at Umberto in the under 1000 pages venue. As always, he challenges me personally not only from a writers perspective, but also philosophically, and especially metaphysically. An elegant read with a bittersweet ending as close to life itself. It's also strewn with the delicate humor of a philosopher who's only choice is: laugh at life or leave it. I'm glad Umberto and others choose the former.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jigar Brahmbhatt

    I imagined rousing lectures akin to his arcane narratives, but the problem is not so much with the lectures but with my assumptions. Major focus here is on how a reader responds to a "text" - in terms of setting, in terms of the movement of time through the story, in terms of other aspects I couldn't care less about. Got some valuable insights nonetheless. Having written few stories I know that a lot of times I rely on my gut feelings to create a scene or plot and often my previous readings and I imagined rousing lectures akin to his arcane narratives, but the problem is not so much with the lectures but with my assumptions. Major focus here is on how a reader responds to a "text" - in terms of setting, in terms of the movement of time through the story, in terms of other aspects I couldn't care less about. Got some valuable insights nonetheless. Having written few stories I know that a lot of times I rely on my gut feelings to create a scene or plot and often my previous readings and influences decide on how I structure my stories. Maybe this book is for serious students of literature or for serious readers. I will continue to rely on my gut feelings.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frankie

    A six-part series of lectures by the brilliant Umberto Eco. The first lecture is on point of view and is fascinating. The second and third are on plot chronology, the fourth and fifth – believability, the sixth on the impact of the fictional on the actual (good and bad). The last lecture brings to light some interesting examples of mistaken fiction's beastly results, including a tree of reference connecting the knights templar myths to Hitler's library. If you have the inclination but little time, A six-part series of lectures by the brilliant Umberto Eco. The first lecture is on point of view and is fascinating. The second and third are on plot chronology, the fourth and fifth – believability, the sixth on the impact of the fictional on the actual (good and bad). The last lecture brings to light some interesting examples of mistaken fiction's beastly results, including a tree of reference connecting the knights templar myths to Hitler's library. If you have the inclination but little time, read my favorite – chapter 4 "Possible Woods."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    I was surprised by how much fun I had reading this book. At times it threatened to be a little dry, but my interest was always renewed by Eco's witty turns of phrase and by his enthusiasm. I was particularly enthralled by 'Lingering in the Woods', and the discussion on the different ways time can pass in literature and other artistic mediums. Like a real walk in the woods, it is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I was surprised by how much fun I had reading this book. At times it threatened to be a little dry, but my interest was always renewed by Eco's witty turns of phrase and by his enthusiasm. I was particularly enthralled by 'Lingering in the Woods', and the discussion on the different ways time can pass in literature and other artistic mediums. Like a real walk in the woods, it is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alastair

    Six passionate lectures on the craft and consequences of storytelling - worldview-shaping at best, harmless academic fun at worst - from the worldly professor we all wish we had. As with so much of Umberto Eco’s work, he delivers it with a real twinkle in the eye - one that blazes from his 1993 podium right through the page and into the present day, as bright and mischievous as ever.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Poet Gentleness

    Small, concise and to the point, Eco analyzes many literary woks, how they should be read, its impacts of society in general. You haven't read a book if you read just one time, it's one of the great lesson of this book! Small, concise and to the point, Eco analyzes many literary woks, how they should be read, its impacts of society in general. You haven't read a book if you read just one time, it's one of the great lesson of this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Gebhardt

    Always an immense pleasure to read Eco's essays, or in this case apparently speeches. Originally in English, these 6 essays are an easy read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in narrative, languages, writing, storytelling, or Umberto Eco. Some of my highlights: There is no imperfect tense in English "a flashback seems to make up for something the author has forgotten, whereas the flashforward is a manifestation of narrative impatience" Poe said "a literary work should be short enough to rea Always an immense pleasure to read Eco's essays, or in this case apparently speeches. Originally in English, these 6 essays are an easy read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in narrative, languages, writing, storytelling, or Umberto Eco. Some of my highlights: There is no imperfect tense in English "a flashback seems to make up for something the author has forgotten, whereas the flashforward is a manifestation of narrative impatience" Poe said "a literary work should be short enough to read at one sitting, for it two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere" Whenever I'm asked what book I would take with me to a desert island, I reply, "The phone book: with all those characters, I could invent an infinite number of stories" In a work with obscenity, if discourse time coincides with story time, then it is pornography. (Re: The Three Musketeers): If he is on the street that today we call Servandoni, he must know that he is on the rue des Fossoyeurs, the street on which he lives. So how can he think that it is another street, the one on which Aramis lives? Casablanca was shot day by day without anyone knowing how the story would end.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tabish

    A clinical examination of fictional forms, the book is a six-lecture series delivered as Norton lecture in 1993; read it to get some nuanced understanding of fiction writing and reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Umberto has a lot to say about the things he has read, movies he had seen, stories he wrote and peculiarly what others have written about him. All of the lectures tied together by the idea that a reader can take a walk through the woods and with some attention given to the surroundings become a level two or model reader. Some parts were not as convincing, almost as if he wanted his listeners and eventual readers to get lost in his enthusiastic description. Not sure who was his empirical audience Umberto has a lot to say about the things he has read, movies he had seen, stories he wrote and peculiarly what others have written about him. All of the lectures tied together by the idea that a reader can take a walk through the woods and with some attention given to the surroundings become a level two or model reader. Some parts were not as convincing, almost as if he wanted his listeners and eventual readers to get lost in his enthusiastic description. Not sure who was his empirical audience, although it wouldn't surprise me if a Dan Brown or a George R R Martin wandered in late to a few of the latter lectures (J K Rowlings probably left her half-read copy in some café while conjuring up another walking cliché for the forest outside her Hogwart). There is a lot of wisdom lurking in Eco's woods, and I will have to return once I level up on a few more French novels.

  23. 5 out of 5

    DY

    I just finished reading the book. Eco is amazing as always. The book is a journey into the minds of writers and readers, into the woods of the written world. He talks about the model reader and the moder writer, the discourse and the story time, the slowness and the quickness of stories, and the truth and fiction in them. He draws a lot of examples from many writers, but significantly from Nerval, Flaubert, Fleming, Kafka among many others. Writers would definitely find this book insightful indeed I just finished reading the book. Eco is amazing as always. The book is a journey into the minds of writers and readers, into the woods of the written world. He talks about the model reader and the moder writer, the discourse and the story time, the slowness and the quickness of stories, and the truth and fiction in them. He draws a lot of examples from many writers, but significantly from Nerval, Flaubert, Fleming, Kafka among many others. Writers would definitely find this book insightful indeed, but normal reader will find it amusing also.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ovi Oprea

    Funny how I've come to read this book in the same way as I would look for wisdom and guidance in a philosophical text. Of course, it started out as fitting the slot of interest in how narratives are structured and how stories are built, that is a concern with technical matters. But as I have grown older, I have probably become more aware that knowing how stories work is not just about gaining competence in the literary field but is essential to who we are as beings defined by language. Funny how I've come to read this book in the same way as I would look for wisdom and guidance in a philosophical text. Of course, it started out as fitting the slot of interest in how narratives are structured and how stories are built, that is a concern with technical matters. But as I have grown older, I have probably become more aware that knowing how stories work is not just about gaining competence in the literary field but is essential to who we are as beings defined by language.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kit

    Entertaining, but a little stale in the idea department.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jaga

    I don't know, there's always something that stands between me and loving Eco.. I dunno, like.. his books, maybe. I don't know, there's always something that stands between me and loving Eco.. I dunno, like.. his books, maybe.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hazel Explorer

    Good if you're an academic, its basically just six different lectures in book form. Good if you're an academic, its basically just six different lectures in book form.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sinan Öner

    Italian Writer, Historian Umberto Eco's "Six Walks in the Fictional Woods" is very useful book about Umberto Eco's reading "fictions". What is "fiction", when we read "fiction" what can we question, what are the aesthetical elements of our reading "fictions", how Umberto Eco reads "fiction"? Umberto Eco was the historian of European literature, the aesthetician of modern arts in the world and the novelist who writes about the history of "fiction writing". Umberto Eco's "Six Walks in the Fictiona Italian Writer, Historian Umberto Eco's "Six Walks in the Fictional Woods" is very useful book about Umberto Eco's reading "fictions". What is "fiction", when we read "fiction" what can we question, what are the aesthetical elements of our reading "fictions", how Umberto Eco reads "fiction"? Umberto Eco was the historian of European literature, the aesthetician of modern arts in the world and the novelist who writes about the history of "fiction writing". Umberto Eco's "Six Walks in the Fictional Woods" is "an observation book" for seeing Umberto Eco's reading, when we read his book we follow Umberto Eco's "critical thinking" on the different "fictional works". We see the structural, the linguistical, the aesthetical, the philosophical, the historical dimensions of "fiction works" in Umberto Eco's "Six Walks in the Fictional Woods".

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike Peleah

    Collection of six lectures on readers walking through fictional woods of narratives. Each chapter is devoted to specific aspect of relationships, for instance, who is telling the story--ideal author, empirical author, narrator?--and to whom? What is appropriate pace of the story and why authors include seemingly unnecessary details? Where Aramis lived in Paris and why it (doesn't) matters? Elegant and nice book, I enjoyed big time. Collection of six lectures on readers walking through fictional woods of narratives. Each chapter is devoted to specific aspect of relationships, for instance, who is telling the story--ideal author, empirical author, narrator?--and to whom? What is appropriate pace of the story and why authors include seemingly unnecessary details? Where Aramis lived in Paris and why it (doesn't) matters? Elegant and nice book, I enjoyed big time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Generally interesting (if you are into narrative theory), if sometimes a bit wandering. Not a whole lot here I haven’t read in other authors’ narrative theory monographs and anthologies, though as a return to those topics it is brief and quick moving. Eco’s intelligence and range of reading also introduces example texts I don’t know well and enlivens his subject with a scholarly wit.

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