Some people find Umberto Eco pretentious. I agree. It appears that half of what he writes functions in some way to show off the research he did or the things he knows about a variety of events, especially those that happened in and after the middle ages. Now I like technical expertise and knowledge, and I quite enjoyed reading "Fouceault's Pendulum". "The Name of the Rose" was good, too, even though I suspect I read it more as a mediaeval detective story than perhaps what it was intended for. Both had a compelling story. I'm always a sucker for stories involving conspiracies ("FC"), and I liked "The Name of the Rose" as a whole.

Not so with "The Island of the Day Before". No doubt it's a profoundly literary piece of work with unparalleled depth, but when I read I like to be entertained. The two Eco books mentioned above entertained me (and it's cool to be able to drop the fact that you've read Eco in party conversations) but the latest book didn't. For all I care it can have a structure so meticulous it defies description, but it just doesn't compell. I spent over a month and a half reading it, which is a lot too long for any book. It just didn't urge me in any way to read on.

Having said that, "The Island of the Day Before" gives a thorough look into the world of 17th century philosophy and ways of thinking. But if you want to know more about 17th century philosophy, I'd pick up a non-fiction work that doesn't revolve around a fairly unsympathetic character that just rants on about a fictitious brother and a Lady Of His Heart. Eco fans will want to kill me for this but to me the predicate is: B.O.R.I.N.G.

Released 1995, ISBN 0-7493-9544-3



Written February 1999


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