cover of book

On the Shoulders of Giants
by Umberto Eco
translated by Alastair McEwen
Harvard University Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-674-24226-5 | Cloth: 978-0-674-24089-6
Library of Congress Classification N68.3.E3613 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 700.1


A posthumous collection of essays by one of our greatest contemporary thinkers that provides a towering vision of Western culture.

In Umberto Eco’s first novel, The Name of the Rose, Nicholas of Morimondo laments, “We no longer have the learning of the ancients, the age of giants is past!” To which the protagonist, William of Baskerville, replies: “We are dwarfs, but dwarfs who stand on the shoulders of those giants, and small though we are, we sometimes manage to see farther on the horizon than they.”

On the Shoulders of Giants is a collection of essays based on lectures Eco famously delivered at the Milanesiana Festival in Milan over the last fifteen years of his life. Previously unpublished, the essays explore themes he returned to again and again in his writing: the roots of Western culture and the origin of language, the nature of beauty and ugliness, the potency of conspiracies, the lure of mysteries, and the imperfections of art. Eco examines the dynamics of creativity and considers how every act of innovation occurs in conversation with a superior ancestor.

In these playful, witty, and breathtakingly erudite essays, we encounter an intellectual who reads comic strips, reflects on Heraclitus, Dante, and Rimbaud, listens to Carla Bruni, and watches Casablanca while thinking about Proust. On the Shoulders of Giants reveals both the humor and the colossal knowledge of a contemporary giant.

See other books on: Eco, Umberto | Giants | Language | Shoulders | Themes, motives
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