In his latest collection, Eco is as comfortable in the middle ages as writing about WikiLeaksThere’s a moment here when Umberto Eco, introducing his essay “The Beauty of the Flame”, says he is at the Milanesiana festival, whose theme that year was “the four elements”. Fire, he goes on to say, is “of all the elements … the one most likely to be forgotten”, and for a moment you think: not only does Eco still believe there are only four elements, but somehow he has managed to find a literary and philosophical festival in the north of Italy that believes the same thing.This is, of course, not the case; what it shows, rather, is that Eco – as anyone who has read The Name of the Rose would know – is at home in the middle ages. Then again, he is at home in all ages: in the first essay in this collection translated by Richard Dixon, which also gives it its title, he cites, in the course of two pages Priscus of Pnion (5th century AD), Rodolphus Glaber (10th), Liutprand of Cremona (10th), Edgar Bérillon (20th), Felix Fabri (15th), Giuseppe Giusti (19th) and Ian Fleming (20th). I am familiar …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books