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16 November 2007 @ 09:02 am
The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco  
 
Imagine if you will a man who comes across some diary scribbles of a man who, during the 1600s, was shipwrecked upon a ship that is already shipwrecked (and seemingly abandoned) in the middle of a body of water between two Islands. Then imagine that this same man takes these journal entries and composes a novel of events, absurdity, espionage, Romance, and "prudent" ideas.
 
This was this book: The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco. It took me a bit of a while to read this; for one, it is a very complex exchange of phrases that are uncommon to my everyday usage; second, I had recently fell into a relationship of new friends thus my time has been occupied. I could also say that I did not like the book all too much, but I believe that would be unfair. I actually enjoyed reading it, but was frustrated from time to time by its use of erudite phrases of Latin which coincide to particular musings of the 1600s. With that typed out, I would have to say that the strong point of the novel was not the story itself but the observations of both environment and psychology of the main character Roberto. These descriptions of both his observations and his interactions were, to me, quite beautifully put.
 
Another aspect I enjoyed is the use of symbolism and its explanations. Umberto Eco is a superman within the field of Semiotics; which is, to put it simply, the philosophy of the importance of relationships that humanity and its civilizations form with symbols and how those symbols shape such things. Being that this is his taught profession, one can assume with a safe bet that it will be interjected. And it was through the verbiage of the Dove. It was a very interesting and fun history lesson explaining how every civilization has turned the dove into something symbolic for innocence, love, and mating.
 
The other thing that the novel touches on is the importance of Romance; and by "Romance" I mean the heroic stories that were popular at the time; and how these stories spurred people on to make accomplishments they normally would not try to obtain, no matter how fanciful.
 
A very interesting notion that took place were the arguments. Roberto argued with a great many people in his life about certain origins and realities that is the universe around him. One on particular was with a Jesuit about the possibility that Earth is not the center of the universe; nor does the sun revolve around it. Despite that being correct (as we know it today), his justifications and logic for these things were very impossible within today's known facts. One of these arguments was about the Flood that took place forty days and forty nights. It was debated: where exactly did God obtain so much water and what exactly did he do with it? It was suggested that there is enough water underneath the surface of earth to satisfy such a flood; but with the discovery of what we now call the International Date Line, it was argued that God could have taken all of the water the day before the flood considering that it was always the day before right behind that line, thus there was enough water for the Flood. Though these arguments were very absurd to me, it had got me to thinking: How much of what I actually do know to be true can be argued to be untrue just based on my lack of personal observation?
 
All in all, I can say that I enjoyed the book. I would not rank it up there as a favorite of mine, but it did get me to think and impose upon myself to question my environment.
 
To the person who loaned this book out to me and took the effort to send it across the Atlantic and whatever other bodies of water that may have been in the way: Thank you.
 
To all of you: Thank you for reading.
 
Daniel