Eco, Umberto (Translated by Alastair McEwen) . ON UGLINESS. New York City, NY: Rizzoli Press, 2007. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 450 pages. Fine/Fine.

Book-length account on subject. Perhaps the single best book on "counter-aesthetics" in our time. The first appearance of the title in English and in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now scarce. The book is very beautifully produced, with cream cloth boards, profusely illustrated with hundreds of plates culled by the author from the breadth and history of art, and printed on pristine-white, thick coated stock paper in the United States to the highest standards. In pictorial DJ with titles on the cover and spine, as issued. Presents Umberto Eco's "On Ugliness" in a felicitous English translation. Why we are, counter-intuitively, drawn to and even love what is ugly. Like its companion volume, "The History of Beauty" (2010), the book is culled from several sources in the original, meticulously edited by its translator, Alaistair McEwen, and as such, there is no comparable edition in Italian itself. "An exploration of the Monstrous and the Repellent in visual culture and the arts. What is the voyeuristic impulse behind our attraction to the gruesome and the horrible? Where does the magnetic appeal of the sordid and the scandalous come from? Is ugliness also in the eye of the beholder? Eco's encyclopedic knowledge and captivating storytelling skills combine in this ingenious study of The Ugly, revealing that what we often shield ourselves from and shun in everyday life is what we're most attracted to subliminally" (Publisher's blurb). With his characteristic erudition and fervor, Eco ranges from Milton's Satan to Goethe's Mephistopheles; from witchcraft and medieval torture to martyrs, hermits, and penitents; from disemboweled corpses to mythic monsters and sideshow freaks; kitsch, camp, excess, vice, and finally, violence. Time flies: One looked forward to a new Umberto Eco book with reliable, nearly annual, regularity, and even if, lest one forget, the book in question needed to be translated first - with the author's complete involvement and full blessing - before it could actually be published. Those of us who were fortunate enough to see and hear him in person knew first-hand that apart from being a ground-breaking scholar, philosopher, cultural critic ("semiotician"), and literary artist/novelist, Eco was a fastidious polylinguist whose command of the English language was better than most native speakers'. Umberto Eco died on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84, the exact same day as Harper Lee, another literary icon of the less prolific kind, who died at the age of 89. They will both be missed. An absolute "must-have" title for Umberto Eco collectors. This copy is very boldly and beautifully signed and inscribed in black pen-marker on the title page by Umberto Eco. It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page. The recipient is named, a published American writer who cannot be named here. This title is a great book. This is one of few such signed copies of the First American Edition/First Printing still available online and despite its imperfection (one bump on the lower back cover, but it's there) is still in fine condition: The DJ and every internal page are clean, crisp, and bright. It is not price-clipped or remainder-marked. It is priced accordingly. Please note: Copies available online command between $250 and $500. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare signed copy thus. One of the greatest writers of our time. A near-fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER UMBERTO ECO TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0847829863. $100.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on October 19, 2019.