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History of Beauty PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: History of Beauty
Author: Umberto Eco
Publisher: Published November 13th 2004 by Rizzoli (first published January 2004)
ISBN: 9780847826469
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Now in paperback, Umberto Eco’s groundbreaking and much-acclaimed first illustrated book has been a critical success since its first publication in 2004. What is beauty? Umberto Eco, among Italy’s finest and most important contemporary thinkers, explores the nature, the meaning, and the very history of the idea of beauty in Western culture. The profound and subtle text is Now in paperback, Umberto Eco’s groundbreaking and much-acclaimed first illustrated book has been a critical success since its first publication in 2004. What is beauty? Umberto Eco, among Italy’s finest and most important contemporary thinkers, explores the nature, the meaning, and the very history of the idea of beauty in Western culture. The profound and subtle text is lavishly illustrated with abundant examples of sublime painting and sculpture and lengthy quotations from writers and philosophers. This is the first paperback edition of History of Beauty, making this intellectual and philosophical journey with one of the world’s most acclaimed thinkers available in a more compact and affordable format. From the Trade Paperback edition

30 review for History of Beauty

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Reading Eco’s study On Beauty feels like visiting a Temple with very many chambers. In each room there are texts. There are also images, many of them too and of good quality and they are all photos of art pieces. During this visit we are accompanied by the talk of a commentator. He comments on the texts only. Not on the images. Each room corresponds to a period in the Quest of Beauty. In this pursuit we can also conceive each space as forming a petal of a different tone and shape, so that by the Reading Eco’s study On Beauty feels like visiting a Temple with very many chambers. In each room there are texts. There are also images, many of them too and of good quality and they are all photos of art pieces. During this visit we are accompanied by the talk of a commentator. He comments on the texts only. Not on the images. Each room corresponds to a period in the Quest of Beauty. In this pursuit we can also conceive each space as forming a petal of a different tone and shape, so that by the end of the journey we can see that this Temple has the appearance of a multi-faceted flower. And a beautiful flower it is. In the search for Beauty along Western history many questions have been raised. Where does Beauty originate? Is it in the things? And therefore is it made by man, or is it in Nature and made by god? If a god creates beauty, then what is this god? A concept, like Goodness? Or is it a being? If so, then what was his purpose? Or could man create it not in the things but out of the things? Who is this man (mostly man, sometimes woman) and what is his nature? Are all men capable of creating Beauty? Or is it only some – those who are endowed with a (divine) capacity, and we can call them ‘artists’? And those are the Artists – the beings who can create a (divine) entity – ‘art’? Or is beauty really created by the subject? Is it in front of you or is it in your eye – the shifting eye of the beholder? Can Beauty be measured? Indeed, is it proportion itself? Who measures those proportions? Does it form part of an overall scheme of things, the Harmonic Tutto? Or does it require another quality, such as individuality, and should therefore break the norms and surprise? What is its purpose? To elevate us to a higher, and ethical, or to a sublime realm? And if related to the human, should it be sensual, or smart, or witty? Does it have a gender? Or does it belong to the dominion of a particular gender? To what extent is it relative and needs its own context to shine out. These are many of the questions addressed by Eco as they were formulated by thinkers, and it is his anthology of texts, from Theognis and Plato to critics from the 1950s, going through Plotinus, Suger, Hildegard von Bingen, Dante, Alberti, Gracián, Hume, Kant, Goethe, Diderot, Baudelaire, Foscolo, Burke, Wilde, Pater, Duchamp amongst very many others, that form the backbone of this book. The copious and beautiful images are unconnected illustrations. They are not addressed by Eco nor specifically related to the selected texts. They form a background musing, colouring the excerpts, like in my review. For the book is conceived as an intellectual exercise, an examination of concepts. It is a theoretical flower then, even if the images add a veneer by appealing to a seen and experienced Beauty. Reading the compendium of excerpts, however, is somewhat unsatisfying and one feels that in this Temple one is just looking at the spine of the books stored in those inviting chambers. But they serve as indications for a later trip, without commentator, when one can stay in one of those rooms and think, not contemplate, some of those notions. And as map of the Search of Beauty this book is excellent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Coyle

    Really a 3 1/2 star book, but since that's not an option... This book is misnamed, really "dictionary of Beauty" would be a closer title, while "Umberto Eco's Musings on Beauty in a loosely chronological order with occasionaly quotes about beauty from other thinkers and a boatload of pictures" would probably hit closest to home. Undoubtedly the publisher shot that title down and stuck History of Beauty in its place. Strengths: Each individual section is fairly informative and interesting to read. Really a 3 1/2 star book, but since that's not an option... This book is misnamed, really "dictionary of Beauty" would be a closer title, while "Umberto Eco's Musings on Beauty in a loosely chronological order with occasionaly quotes about beauty from other thinkers and a boatload of pictures" would probably hit closest to home. Undoubtedly the publisher shot that title down and stuck History of Beauty in its place. Strengths: Each individual section is fairly informative and interesting to read. There are a lot of useful and interesting art prints, quotes that I likely would never otherwise have encountered, and thoughtful reflections on the various periods and thinkers of artistic history. I will definitely be returning to the needed sections (particularly those on the Middle Ages and the modern world) for review in the future. And if nothing else, it is encouraging to see a major modern thinker engaging aesthetics. That is rare enough to be worthy of attention and time. Weaknesses: This book has two major weaknesses, the first is editing. This is always a fairly irritating one for me, since it means that either the author or the publisher or both (possibly also the translator in this case) got lazy along the way and just didn't do their job well. If I'm going to give money and time to your creative work, you should at least have the decency to care about keeping it coherent. The second is that there's really no overall theme. Which is (spoiler alert- though it's nonfiction so I doubt anyone actually cares) one of the points he makes about Beauty, that it is no consistent through time. People's and cultures' perceptions of Beauty shift and grow and change from year to year, and region to region. Therefore, he argues, there is no (perhaps there cannot even be) any solid and lasting definition of Beauty. Beauty at the end of the day is relative, despite his claim that it is pervasive throughout both our culture and cultures past. Which functionally turns this into a 400 page episode of Seinfeld. Not that it's funny, but that it's a book about nothing. Or at least, nothing that has any transcendent value. If there is no ultimate Beauty, and it's all relative, why should we be bothered to read a book about it? Well, as I said above, it is worth reading. But it would be more worth reading if Eco had articulated his own philosophy of Beauty and then talked about it in the context of aesthetics through history. In his failure to do so, this book is ultimately yet another postmodern disappointment.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stela

    Even if I agree with most of the reproaches this book received (that it is more a guide than a study, that it is more a triumph of compression than of clarity, that it is too eclectic and so on) I have to say I really enjoyed it. Is this a consequence of my great admiration for Umberto Eco or of my dilettantism in art, I'm not sure (and I won't dig, so back off!). Anyway, I think the author completed his objectives, enumerated in Introduction: - to identify Beauty as a thing pleasing to contemplat Even if I agree with most of the reproaches this book received (that it is more a guide than a study, that it is more a triumph of compression than of clarity, that it is too eclectic and so on) I have to say I really enjoyed it. Is this a consequence of my great admiration for Umberto Eco or of my dilettantism in art, I'm not sure (and I won't dig, so back off!). Anyway, I think the author completed his objectives, enumerated in Introduction: - to identify Beauty as a thing pleasing to contemplate independently of the desire we may feel for it; -to establish the relationship between Beauty and Art (since Beauty was sometimes perceived simply as a quality of Nature); - to document the history of Beauty (only in Western culture, though) through art (because only the artists left examples) but not to write a history of art. Based on a reviewing of the great artistic movements (whose ideologies influenced - evidently- the conception of Beauty), the essay presents different Aesthetic Ideals from ancient Greece to nowadays, emphasizing the growing complexity of the concept of Beauty, from the antithesis Apollonian - Dionysiac as a very interesting antithesis between vision and sound, to the contemporary syncretism, from Pythagoras' abstract numbers and music of spheres to the prosaic industrialisation, from Pericles' ideal of harmony, order, measure, and simplicity, to "the orgy of tolerance, the total syncretism and the absolute and unstoppable polytheism of Beauty" which characterize our times. On the other hand, I was amused to learn that Thomas Aquinas considered a crystal hammer ugly because it didn't serve a purpose and that Marco Polo, seeing rhinoceros for the first time thought they were unicorns (I bet Eugène Ionesco didn't know that!) Overall, not pretentious, beautifully illustrated (someone said, ironically, of course, that it would make a wonderful present), it doesn't aim to impress but to observe the evolution of a concept over a very long period of time. Hence the impression that he only grazed the surface of the subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    It is a book that is not based on artistic criteria of beauty, but the beauty marked by time, by the concepts, for what it was and was considered beautiful in every season. I think the author exceeds too much the beautiful setting, in keeping with the beauty. He didn't convinced me.Sorry..I almost give it up.. It was only funny, cross myself with the various interpreters of the history of art ... But very little, very little.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

    It's not really a book you read cover to cover, and I guess some of the disappointment many people may feel comes from them picking it up and reading it like that. It is a dictionary a reference, it should open people's mind up to further investigate and research. As someone said the book does reflect his personal opinions and musings, but just by flicking though the book many times I have found myself diving deeper into periods, artists, works of art, techniques etc.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn

    It's an interesting topic: what is beauty? It might seem like a trivial question, but think about it: esthetics run through everything we do. Everything we read, watch, listen to, right down to the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the cans we buy food in are made to correspond to some standard of beauty. Where does all that come from? What makes us think a Rolls looks better than a Datsun? What makes Dickens a better writer than Stephenie Meyer? Why did medieaval Christ figures look triumph It's an interesting topic: what is beauty? It might seem like a trivial question, but think about it: esthetics run through everything we do. Everything we read, watch, listen to, right down to the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the cans we buy food in are made to correspond to some standard of beauty. Where does all that come from? What makes us think a Rolls looks better than a Datsun? What makes Dickens a better writer than Stephenie Meyer? Why did medieaval Christ figures look triumphant and baroque ones suffering? Why is Kate Moss a supermodel and Roseanne Barr not? Can something tragic be beautiful? If you've read Eco before you know he's good at picking up patterns, memes, ideas and how they mutate with time and context. So this is Eco the non-fiction writer tracing society's concept of beauty from pre-historic time to the 21st century, richly illustrated with artworks and architecture and quotes from poets, philosophers and novelists ranging from Plato to Wilde. Venus of Willendorf and Naomi Campbell, Apollo and George Clooney, Warhol and Tizian, Thomas Aquinus and Kafka, they're all in here. Inevitably, even at 400 pages, it becomes a bit of a coffee table book; it's a huge topic, and he doesn't really have time to cover everything (plus, it's all pretty Eurocentric, of course). But being Eco, what he does cover is covered in-depth, giving you a great understanding of how and why standards change and how they relate to changes in the world - the relationships between religion and art, between revolution and poetry, technology and design. Rather brilliant. Plus, obviously, the book itself is beautiful. Now I'm even more intrigued by the sequel On Ugliness; Eco has said that after writing the first book, he realised he'd been writing about standards, about conformity. What about the things that don't conform to the traditional standards? That's another doorstopper.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Metin Yılmaz

    Güzellik nedir ne değildir hakkında kapsamlı bir araştırma Güzelliğin Tarihi. Fakat işlenişden mi yoksa dağınık gibi görünen farklı kronolojisinden mi bilemiyorum bir akıcılık sağlayamadı bende. Yer yer bildiğimiz tanımlamalar ve gerçeklerle karşılaştım. Bazen ise bilmediğim ama tahmin ettiğim bazı doğrularla. Genel olarak ise beklentimin altında ama okumaya da değer bir kitaptı. Tabi kabul etmek gerekir ki bu çalışmanın çok ama çok önemli bir öğretisi var. Geçmişten günümüze gelindiğinde güzel Güzellik nedir ne değildir hakkında kapsamlı bir araştırma Güzelliğin Tarihi. Fakat işlenişden mi yoksa dağınık gibi görünen farklı kronolojisinden mi bilemiyorum bir akıcılık sağlayamadı bende. Yer yer bildiğimiz tanımlamalar ve gerçeklerle karşılaştım. Bazen ise bilmediğim ama tahmin ettiğim bazı doğrularla. Genel olarak ise beklentimin altında ama okumaya da değer bir kitaptı. Tabi kabul etmek gerekir ki bu çalışmanın çok ama çok önemli bir öğretisi var. Geçmişten günümüze gelindiğinde güzel sanatın nasıl bir sanata evrildiğini daha doğrusu kötüleştiğini gösteriyor. Kitapta özellikle son paragrafın ilk cümlesini çok beğendim; "geleceğin kaşifi 20. Yüzyılı ve daha ilerisinin kitle iletişim araçlarının ifşa ettiği estetik idealini artık belirleyemez."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ioannis Savvas

    Μια εμπεριστατωμένη μελέτη της προοπτικής της Ομορφιάς στο πέρασμα των αιώνων. Μια πανοραμική απεικόνιση της αντίληψης του ανθρώπου για το Ωραίο. Μέσα από την τέχνη και τη φιλοσοφία. Ένα ταξίδι στον τρόπο σκέψης των ανθρώπων για ένα από τα σημαντικότερα αγαθά της ζωής. Η Ομορφιά μέσα από τη θρησκεία, την καθημερινή ζωή, τον έρωτα, τη διαστροφή, ακόμα και μέσα από την Ασχήμια. Μια καταπληκτική έκδοση των Εκδόσεων Καστανιώτη, με υψηλή ποιότητα χαρτιού και εκτύπωσης, άριστες φωτογραφίες έργων τέχνης Μια εμπεριστατωμένη μελέτη της προοπτικής της Ομορφιάς στο πέρασμα των αιώνων. Μια πανοραμική απεικόνιση της αντίληψης του ανθρώπου για το Ωραίο. Μέσα από την τέχνη και τη φιλοσοφία. Ένα ταξίδι στον τρόπο σκέψης των ανθρώπων για ένα από τα σημαντικότερα αγαθά της ζωής. Η Ομορφιά μέσα από τη θρησκεία, την καθημερινή ζωή, τον έρωτα, τη διαστροφή, ακόμα και μέσα από την Ασχήμια. Μια καταπληκτική έκδοση των Εκδόσεων Καστανιώτη, με υψηλή ποιότητα χαρτιού και εκτύπωσης, άριστες φωτογραφίες έργων τέχνης και πάρα πολλά αποσπάσματα κειμένων. Ένα κόσμημα για τη βιβλιοθήκη μας, με την υπογραφή του ανεπανάληπτου Ουμπέρτο Έκο.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dominika Žáková

    Obsažné, kvalitné, zazdrojované spracovanie. Musím ale priznať, že to bola pre mňa nuda a “len” zopakovanie vedomostí z výšky. Bodaj by som ju ale bola bývala prečítala pred štátnicami z dejín umenia!

  10. 5 out of 5

    AyaSuu

    This book takes a lot of stamina to go through. The concept is quite easy: each chapter contains a short description of the period in question and its understanding of beauty, accompanied by important artworks and primary literature. These chapters are often just 3-5 pages. Nevertheless it's hard to read (weird layout, at least in the german edition, and hard to understand primary texts without comments) and boring at times. It doesn't feel like a cohesive book, but rather like lecture notes put This book takes a lot of stamina to go through. The concept is quite easy: each chapter contains a short description of the period in question and its understanding of beauty, accompanied by important artworks and primary literature. These chapters are often just 3-5 pages. Nevertheless it's hard to read (weird layout, at least in the german edition, and hard to understand primary texts without comments) and boring at times. It doesn't feel like a cohesive book, but rather like lecture notes put together. Period descriptions don't go into details, but mention what's most important. What I really missed was an extensive analysis of the primary texts and artworks used. 3 stars for a good overview and great choice of artworks.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Atefeh Ahmadi

    ترجمهی فرانسهی این کتاب رو گرفتم از کتابخونه و دلم گرفت از این چیزی که الان به فارسی هست. حجم کتاب سه برابره و پر از تصویره. یه سری تابلوی تطبیقی ساخته اولش از همهی ونوسها و آدونیسها که خودش به تنهایی جذابه. درسته که خیلی از عکسها قابل چاپ نبودن اما من نمیدونم چرا تابلوهای تطبیقی مریم مقدس و مسیح هم حذف شدن،صرفن برای این که حجمش کمتر شه و ارزونتر درآد؟! ترجمه‌ی فرانسه‌ی این کتاب رو گرفتم از کتابخونه و دلم گرفت از این چیزی که الان به فارسی هست. حجم کتاب سه برابره و پر از تصویره. یه سری تابلوی تطبیقی ساخته اولش از همه‌ی ونوس‌ها و آدونیس‌ها که خودش به تنهایی جذابه. درسته که خیلی از عکس‌ها قابل چاپ نبودن اما من نمی‌دونم چرا تابلوهای تطبیقی مریم مقدس و مسیح هم حذف شدن،صرفن برای این که حجم‌ش کم‌تر شه و ارزون‌تر درآد؟!‏

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    Absolutely disappointing. It's just another collection of selected paragraphs and quotes from historical and philosophical essays concerning Beauty and other aesthetical categories like the Picturesque or the Sublime, with some extra explanations. I expected it to be a new essay by Mr. Eco himself, but his presence and touch on the subject approached is almost inexistent or unnoticeable. Plus, a quite expensive book. So, if you're already into History of Art or Philosophy, don't even think about Absolutely disappointing. It's just another collection of selected paragraphs and quotes from historical and philosophical essays concerning Beauty and other aesthetical categories like the Picturesque or the Sublime, with some extra explanations. I expected it to be a new essay by Mr. Eco himself, but his presence and touch on the subject approached is almost inexistent or unnoticeable. Plus, a quite expensive book. So, if you're already into History of Art or Philosophy, don't even think about getting this book. Still, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the book's easy style and summarized vision of the topic: useful for people with no further knowledge and a will to learn a bit about this tricky concept called Beauty.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ritz

    Compré La Historia de la Belleza para mi tesis sobre estética. Estudio Filosofía y al momento de hacer una tesis sobre estética creo que ya tengo algo de información al respecto, "por este motivo y sólo por este" no recomiendo el libro; es decir no lo recomiendo si lo buscas con fines de investigación académicos. Sin embargo, es un excelente libro de refrencia para profundizar con otras investigaciones. Es una aproximación a "la belleza" con un lenguaje muy ameno, directo y simple que no complica Compré La Historia de la Belleza para mi tesis sobre estética. Estudio Filosofía y al momento de hacer una tesis sobre estética creo que ya tengo algo de información al respecto, "por este motivo y sólo por este" no recomiendo el libro; es decir no lo recomiendo si lo buscas con fines de investigación académicos. Sin embargo, es un excelente libro de refrencia para profundizar con otras investigaciones. Es una aproximación a "la belleza" con un lenguaje muy ameno, directo y simple que no complica su lectura. Se trata de un libro perfecto para mesita de café en la sala de casa, porque está lleno de láminas e imágenes y los textos son bastante cortos, por eso se trata del libro ideal para "ojear" y pasar el tiempo.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Psychophant

    The book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive webpage or digital media. Because a page limits you to what is in it or its neighbours, or a shorter or longer search for a glimpsed idea. Hyperlink and search functions really help to compare what is in common and to spot the differences. The book deals with the idea of beauty, and how it has changed through time and cultures, using works of art as th The book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive webpage or digital media. Because a page limits you to what is in it or its neighbours, or a shorter or longer search for a glimpsed idea. Hyperlink and search functions really help to compare what is in common and to spot the differences. The book deals with the idea of beauty, and how it has changed through time and cultures, using works of art as the only surviving yardstick of what was considered beautiful. Although the author has his own views, he tries to keep it hidden, focusing instead on what others thought, although the narrative gives a hint of which of those ideas he favors, sometimes quite broadly, but that is to be expected as he is a son of his own time and culture, so his views will be different (though still close) from mine. Its awkward handling, specially as it requires a certain level of involvement from the reader give it this relatively low score for such a gorgeous book. Because it is gorgeous, and a simple cursory read, looking at the images, probably will enlighten you as much as deep reading. But that gorgeousness detracts from its own message, because subject to so many beautiful images, how can you define what is beauty, if beauty is most of them? Which I suppose goes a long way to explain why Eco published also History of Ugliness. Because you cannot have one without the other. Maybe after reading it my mind will clear, and I will give it a higher score.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    History of beauty=Storia della bellezza, 2nd ed, 2005, Umberto Eco تاریخ زیبایی: نظریه های زیبایی در فرهنگهای غربی؛ اثر: اومبرتو اکو؛ ترجمه و گزینش: هما بینا؛ پیشگفتار و تحشیه: جهانگیر شهدادی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، فرهنگستان هنر جمهوری اسلامی ایران، موسسه ی تالیف، ترجمه و نشر آثار هنری، 1390، در 230 ص، مصور ، بخشی رنگی، شابک: 9789642320844؛ کتابنامه ص 223، همچنین به صورت زیرنویس، نمایه دارد، موضوع: تاریخ زیبایی شناسی، هنر، فلسفه؛ از ترجمه انگلیسی به فارسی برگردانده شده است

  16. 4 out of 5

    Neva

    Не, не харесах тази книга. Като изключим картинките, има повече проблеми, отколкото достойнства. И не, не бих я използвала като меродавен източник за каквото и да било, така че не бих я нарекла "енциклопедия". * * * "История на красотата, представена от Умберто Еко", "Кибеа", прев. Маргарита и Евдокия Златарови, под научната редакция на д-р Аксиния Джурова, 2006 г. "Ще ти кажа само следното: ти се опитваш при такова нечовешко положение да се държиш като човек. Това може да е прекрасно, но е безполе Не, не харесах тази книга. Като изключим картинките, има повече проблеми, отколкото достойнства. И не, не бих я използвала като меродавен източник за каквото и да било, така че не бих я нарекла "енциклопедия". * * * "История на красотата, представена от Умберто Еко", "Кибеа", прев. Маргарита и Евдокия Златарови, под научната редакция на д-р Аксиния Джурова, 2006 г. "Ще ти кажа само следното: ти се опитваш при такова нечовешко положение да се държиш като човек. Това може да е прекрасно, но е безполезно. Впрочем и в тая красота не съм сигурен: може ли да бъде хубаво нещо, което е глупаво?" "Соларис", Станислав Лем Първото, което трябва да се каже за тази книга е, че е красива. Второто – че въпросът на Лем е не от (нищо че ЦЯЛАТА Е СЪСТАВЕНА ОТ ЦИТАТИ), а към нея. Защото тя има могъщ потенциал да е прекрасна, стеснен към безполезност от ред структурни, концептуални и преводни неравновесия. Отпечатаният в Италия том е разкошен на вид и допир, даже ухае разкошно. Първоначалната му заявка е голяма (Еко! история! красота!), издателството е "Кибеа" (хората с най-амбициозни и интернационални проекти), подходът изглежда професионален (цяла рота коректори и редактори), цената безкомпромисно отказва случайните зяпачи (75 лева в България срещу 30 евро в Италия). Затова претенциите към "История на красотата" са по-сериозни, отколкото към средната книжка с картинки, която се появява на българския пазар. И наблюденията са следните. "История на красотата" е албум със стотици великолепни репродукции на картини, скулптури и фотографии, придружени с текстове от различни епохи (в унисон или контраст помежду си), поделени в седемнадесет глави със съответните встъпления и кратки свързващи коментари. Името на семиотика-писател Умберто Еко, автор на девет от главите, грее с тържествени пиринчени букви на корицата, до съвършеното лице на Елеонора Толедска, нарисувана от Брондзино. Името на философа-романист ДЖИРОЛАМО ДЕ МИКЕЛЕ, написал останалите осем, е сбутано с микроскопични черни буквички в издателското каре (и това не е нещо, което българските издатели са решили - Бомпиани изобщо не споменават името на Де Микеле в сайта си... което ми се стори АДСКИ некрасиво от тяхна и на Еко страна... говорим за съавторство, за ПОЛОВИНАТА КНИГА... както впрочем и на тази за грозотата). Малко след първите страници идва и признанието, че това всъщност не е история на красотата въобще, а на тази в ЗАПАДНИЯ, ХРИСТИЯНСКИ СВЯТ. Акцентът като че ли е ЧОВЕШКАТА красота, но тук-таме се говори и за природата, идеите, предметите. Дефиницията на темата е проблемна: "говорим за Красота, когато се наслаждаваме на нещо заради него самото, независимо от факта дали го притежаваме". Мъглявото й третиране поражда куп спорни твърдения ("Благо е онова, което стимулира нашето желание...") и странни следствия (естетиката се смесва с етиката там, където властта или религията са дадени като образци за красота). Говоренето не е изкуствоведско, научно, академично и пр. (що е то "напредък" в изкуството?), а популяризаторско (което нямаше да е лошо при съвсем ясни критерии). Преводът на разказваческия глас (Еко и Де Микеле) на места пресяда заради прекомерното си желание да се придържа о буквата на традиционно витиеватия (и трудно поносим) език на подобни италиански съчинения. Тук-таме се промъкват и непресети неточности: Франческо Хаез (вместо Айец), Джон Евърет Милес (вместо Миле), вездесъщата, с извинение, елементарна грешка от последните 25 години - "ЕЛЕМЕНТИ" вместо "стихии" и така нататък. Погледът се катери по стотиците нетипични за българската графика главни букви: "черната Красота на Наоми Кембъл", "Роджър Бейкън ще провъзгласи Оптиката за нова наука" или "вяра в ценностите на Разума и Революцията"... В крайна сметка по пътя от Вилендорфската Венера до Моника Белучи в "История на красотата" се изреждат низ от спиращи дъха визуални и словесни изживявания. В леко нескопосни рамки, но все пак. І Естетическият идеал в Древна Гърция "Най-хубавото нещо на земята е ред конници" – каза./ "Не, пехотинци"./ "Не, ред кораби"./ Аз пък мисля, че красиво е обичаното.../ Красив е онзи, кой е пред очите/ добър е също той – сега и после." (Сафо, VІІ-VІ в. пр. Хр.) ІІ Аполоново и Дионисиево начало "Един следващ аспект на антитезата между Аполон и Дионис се отнася до диадата далечно/близко. Гръцкото и изобщо западното изкуство, за разлика от някои източни художествени форми, определя точното разстояние спрямо творбата, с която не се влиза в пряк контакт: обратно на японската скулптура, която се докосва, и на тибетската пясъчна мандала, изискваща взаимодействие..." (Джироламо де Микеле) ІІІ Красотата като пропорция и хармония "Гърците дадоха на света името "украшение" – поради различието на елементите и красотата на звездите. Това при тях се нарича всъщност Kósmos, което означава "украшение". И наистина, с очите на плътта ние не виждаме нищо по-красиво от света..." (Исидор от Севиля, VІ в.) ІV Светлината и цветът през Средновековието "Дворецът на Великия хан е най-големият на света: подът е на две педи от земята; таванът е много висок; стените на залите и стаите, покрити със злато и сребро, са изрисувани с чудни истории за дами и рицари, прици, зверове и други красиви неща... Голямата зала е толкова дълга и широка, че в нея могат да седят и да се хранят шест хиляди души... По покрива керемидите са червени, сини, зелени и с други цветове, лакирани тъй хубаво, че светят като кристал, затова дворецът блести още отдалеч..." (Марко Поло, ХІІІ в.) V Красотата на чудовищата "Една природна красота е красиво нещо, а красотата в изкуството е красива представа за нещо... Изящното изкуство показва своето превъзходство тъкмо в това, че описва красиво нещата, които в природата биха били грозни или отблъскващи..." (Имануел Кант) VІ От пастирката до жената-ангел "Жофре Рюдел дьо Бле бил знатен мъж, принц на Бле. Влюбил се в графинята на Триполи, без никога да я е виждал, само по онова, което слушал за нея от поклонниците, идващи от Антиохия. И съчинил за нея много стихове с хубави мелодии, но с недобри текстове. Тъй като желаел да я види, станал кръстоносец и плавал по море; на кораба заболял тежко, завели го в Триполи, в странноприемница, като казали, че умира. Графинята научила, отишла при него и на смъртния му одър го прегърнала..." (Неизвестен автор, ХІІІ век) VІІ Магическата красота между XV и XVI век "Изяществото винаги трябва да бъде уравновесено с достоверност и изкусност. Това е трудно, защото съвършени красоти не се откриват в едно-единствено тяло, ами са пръснати из множество тела и са редки. Ето защо е трудно да се намерят и проучат всички. За едни ще бъде по-лесно да изучават по-големите неща, а за други по-малките: няма трудност, толкова голяма, че науката и постоянството да не я преодолеят..." (Леон Батиста Алберти, ХV в.) VІІІ Дами и герои "Тук Дон Кихот дълбоко въздъхна и рече: - ...Косите й са злато, челото й – елисейски полета, веждите й – дъги небесни, очите й – слънца, бузите й – рози, устните й – корали, бисери – зъбите й, алабастър – шията й, мрамор – гърдите й, слонова кост – ръцете й, белотата й е снежна, а частите, които целомъдрието закрива от хорския поглед, са такива, според както мисля и съдя, че само с най-тънка прозорливост могат да се оценят, но не и сравнят..." (Мигел де Сервантес) ІХ От грацията до тревожната Красота "Към същността на остротата спада, че се познава повече в цялост, отколкото в детайли, че се усеща, а не се определя. Всяко описание на тъй неуловимата материя е валидно; това, което е Красотата за очите и хармонията за ушите, за интелекта е понятието..." (Балтасар Грасиан, ХVІІ в.) Х Разум и Красота "Човек, който не е имал никаква възможност да сравни различни видове Красота, изобщо не е подготвен да изкаже съждение относно какъвто и да било видян от него предмет. Само със сравнението ние определяме епитетите за одобрение и отрицание и се научаваме в какви граници да ги поставяме..." (Дейвид Хюм) ХІ Възвишеното "Твърдя, че най-големите обекти в Природата са най-приятни за гледане: след широкия небесен свод и безграничните области, населени със звезди, няма нищо, което да съзерцавам с такава наслада, както необятното море и планините..." (Томас Бърнет, 1681 г.) ХІІ Романтическата Красота "Смъртта и Красотата са две дълбини, които съдържат толкова лазурно и толкова черно, че изглеждат две ужасни и плодовити сестри с една и съща загадка, с една и съща мистерия..." (Виктор Юго) ХІІІ Религията на Красотата "Душата ми е Рим при сетния упадък,/ посрещащ с взор тълпи от варвари безчет/ и с някой акростих замислено зает,/ на залеза лъча заплел в стиха си гладък..." (Пол Верлен) ХІV Новият предмет "Жената фашистка трябва да бъде физически здрава, за да може да стане майка на здрави синове, според "правилата на живот", посочени от Дучето в паметната му реч пред лекарите. Трябва да бъдат напълно премахнати рисунките на женски фигури, изкуствено отслабнали и с мъжки черти, които преставят типа на стерилна жена от упадъчната западна цивилизация..." (Фашистка пресслужба към Министерския съвет, 1931 г.) ХV Красотата на машините "Ако да се молиш значи да общуваш с божеството, движението с голяма скорост е молитва..." (Филипо Томазо Маринети, 1916 г.) ХVІ От абстрактните форми до дълбините на материята "...онова, което най-вече му харесва в пръстта, е това, че тя е обикновена и разпространена повече от всичко друго на света и поради тази си обикновеност често обезсърчава хората, които не й хвърлят дори разсеян поглед..." (Андре Пейре дьо Мандиарг, 1956 г.) ХVІІ Красотата на медиите "Първата половина на ХХ век и най-вече 60-те години са сцена на драматична борба между Красотата на провокацията и Красотата на потреблението..." (Умберто Еко)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eℓℓis ♥

    Dal libro: Anche le cose brutte si compongono nell'armonia del mondo per via di proporzione e contrasto. La Bellezza [...] nasce anche da questi contrasti, e anche i mostri hanno una ragione e una dignità nel concetto del creato, anche il male nell'ordine diviene bello e buono perché da esso nasce il bene, e accanto a esso il bene meglio rifulge.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pollopicu

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I got through this book by pure endurance I built by jogging 2-3 miles a day, 4 times a week. Otherwise I wouldn't have made it through. Good thing I have mental stamina. It's gotten me through a lot of difficult times in my life. I loved Umberto's book "On Ugliness". I gave that five stars, which is the reason I asked for a copy of "On Beauty" for Christmas, so I could have the set, and forever cherish them both. I learned a lot about literature from "On Ugliness". I believe it was one of the u I got through this book by pure endurance I built by jogging 2-3 miles a day, 4 times a week. Otherwise I wouldn't have made it through. Good thing I have mental stamina. It's gotten me through a lot of difficult times in my life. I loved Umberto's book "On Ugliness". I gave that five stars, which is the reason I asked for a copy of "On Beauty" for Christmas, so I could have the set, and forever cherish them both. I learned a lot about literature from "On Ugliness". I believe it was one of the ultimate driving forces which inspired me to start reading classic works. So when I opened my copy of the beautifully illustrated book "On beauty" and saw that one of the very first pictures of the book was a nude picture of what our society has been conditioned to recognize as beauty, I was disappointed. I somewhat expected in this book, the transition of the history of beauty to eventually lead to what our warped over-sexed society has come to consider beautiful, but I didn't expect to open the book to the very first pages and see a modern image/photograph of a topless woman with what seemed like literally painted on black patten-leather boots that went up to her waist. I think that adding this image to the very first pages of this beautiful book was a serious offense, and I was indeed offended. Other than that, the book was deeply disappointing. It was a tedious bore to get through. I found a driving manual more interesting to read.. I can safely say I got nothing from reading it, and I read it from cover to cover. I guess I'm more fascinated with the nature of ugliness than with that of beauty, since beauty these days seems to be so generic and un-original. Also none of the Art that Umberto chose moved me. Waste of a potentially gorgeous book. This is hands down one of the shittiest books I've ever read in my life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Dense. I had to simply assign myself to get through the book. Though I read the book and made an honest attempt to absorb a goodly amount of the information, I suspect that I missed entire theses in my reading. One reason is that the writing in supported with both images and text. Before I began the book I thought it was mostly an art historical history of beauty. I didn't realize how great a role writing, especially poetry and philosophy, would play in the theories expressed and discussed in the Dense. I had to simply assign myself to get through the book. Though I read the book and made an honest attempt to absorb a goodly amount of the information, I suspect that I missed entire theses in my reading. One reason is that the writing in supported with both images and text. Before I began the book I thought it was mostly an art historical history of beauty. I didn't realize how great a role writing, especially poetry and philosophy, would play in the theories expressed and discussed in the book. I am an artist and art instructor, but my grounding in philosophy is mediocre and my poetry background is almost nil. I was much better able to understand the arguments and explanations when they referred to art images (those included in the book or those left out) than when they were supported by poetry, philosophy, literature or music. The writing is very academic and the book is full of both quality color reproductions of artworks and excerpts from many many written works. In the written works context was sometimes limited and this added to my feeling of being lost or confused. I would expect the book to be used more as a textbook--a graduate level textbook supported by other text, readings and discussions. This is not a light read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barry Marks

    To begin, I have to confess that I am a huge Umberto Eco fan. I have enjoyed reading both fiction and non-fiction books penned by him. My only regret is that I have to read English translations as I am not going to learn Italian at this stage of my life. This book to me is a post- modernist history of the concept of beauty. I have enjoyed reading cover to cover when I first got it and to this day still enjoy rereading parts of it and pursuing the many illustrations and examples of beauty and art To begin, I have to confess that I am a huge Umberto Eco fan. I have enjoyed reading both fiction and non-fiction books penned by him. My only regret is that I have to read English translations as I am not going to learn Italian at this stage of my life. This book to me is a post- modernist history of the concept of beauty. I have enjoyed reading cover to cover when I first got it and to this day still enjoy rereading parts of it and pursuing the many illustrations and examples of beauty and art through the ages. What seems to frustrate many people posting reviews on the book is that they read it expecting to find a definitive definition of beauty and that's just not going to happen.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura Contreras

    Lo estuve hojeando, tiene buenas imágenes....leí algunos pasajes, se ve interesante XD

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jarryn

    This book clearly shows its origin as an electronic resource casually dealing with aesthetics. Not only is it not a "study", but it can feel rather fragmented and incoherent throughout. Eco and De Michele seem to intend this book to serve as "a history" of beauty rather than "the history", if one exists at all—it reads most like the textbook for an introductory survey course in art history/aesthetics. I think this book does a decent job at striking the balance between a somewhat in-depth, insight This book clearly shows its origin as an electronic resource casually dealing with aesthetics. Not only is it not a "study", but it can feel rather fragmented and incoherent throughout. Eco and De Michele seem to intend this book to serve as "a history" of beauty rather than "the history", if one exists at all—it reads most like the textbook for an introductory survey course in art history/aesthetics. I think this book does a decent job at striking the balance between a somewhat in-depth, insightful look into the subject matter and an accessible read geared toward those of us who are not experts equipped with the right kind of academic jargon. With that said, however, it clearly suffers from a number of nebulous patches—like questionable editorial decisions, occasionally unclear translations, and, most importantly, a marketing attempt to underscore editor Umberto Eco's name. It would actually fare decently well had it not attempted to rely on Eco's namesake, thus inviting ridiculously high expectations from the reader. A closer look at the first few pages of the book (which offer some words about how this book came together) is advised. Last, but not least... This book might not be for you if you have a thing against the "arts" that don't conform to the post-Classical era high art ideal. Said notion about what constitutes good art (if any) and beauty had its place at a particular moment in history, but it's not all there is to it. Particularly, I've read a number of reviewers here and elsewhere that appeared to have issues with parts of this book in which the authors delve into the "beauty of the [mass] media", possibly founded upon the notion that the popular art that serves commercial and/or political ends just isn't (and shouldn't be) on the same level as the Great Masterpieces. I would offer my view that all art was/is popular art, and it's our decision to or not to put something above something else, or to place it on a pedestal and regard it as a timeless classic. But that's not what this review is about. In short: It's an okay read. By all means, go for it—but know what you're really getting yourself into, and don't be surprised if something comes up that differs from your own ideas.

  23. 5 out of 5

    José Luís Fernandes

    History of Beauty is a nice exposition of the History of the concept of beauty. The scholarship by Eco is very good and the book has a lot of illustrations and primary sources to back his claims (although for the 20th century there is a lack of texts). I must just warn that the stirrups didn't reach Europe in the High Middle Ages, but instead was already around in the late 6th and early 7th centuries (depending on the region) probably due to Avar influence. I also don't agree with the assertion History of Beauty is a nice exposition of the History of the concept of beauty. The scholarship by Eco is very good and the book has a lot of illustrations and primary sources to back his claims (although for the 20th century there is a lack of texts). I must just warn that the stirrups didn't reach Europe in the High Middle Ages, but instead was already around in the late 6th and early 7th centuries (depending on the region) probably due to Avar influence. I also don't agree with the assertion by Eco his work is relativistic because the fact the idea of Beauty changed many times by itself doesn't mean by itself it's relativistic in any way. My only great issue with this book is that the editing was bad and there wasn't a proof read (for instance, the dates of some art works were wrong or the descriptions were exchanged, especially in the initial pages). Finally, unlike what some people say, this isn't properly a work of Art History (because it's goal isn't art in itself, although beauty is highly related to it and this is useful for art historians), but instead of semiotics (more specifically of semantics, as the perceptions of Beauty in the "western world" since Ancient Greece are discussed).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Agnes Fontana

    Umberto Eco a voulu éviter l'écueil du "beau livre d'art" qu'on vous offre, on répond "Ooooh, merci !!", on regarde au mieux une fois les images, puis on le met sur une étagère ou sur la table basse du salon et on le lit jamais... Pour déjouer le piège, Umberto Eco a réduit le livre au format quasi-poche, et en a fait un développement nourri mais resserré autour d'un fil rouge : comme la vision de la beauté a-t-elle évolué au cours du temps ? Proportions idéales chez les Antiques, reflet des val Umberto Eco a voulu éviter l'écueil du "beau livre d'art" qu'on vous offre, on répond "Ooooh, merci !!", on regarde au mieux une fois les images, puis on le met sur une étagère ou sur la table basse du salon et on le lit jamais... Pour déjouer le piège, Umberto Eco a réduit le livre au format quasi-poche, et en a fait un développement nourri mais resserré autour d'un fil rouge : comme la vision de la beauté a-t-elle évolué au cours du temps ? Proportions idéales chez les Antiques, reflet des valeurs morales chez un Moyen Age qui n'aimait pas le corps, passage de la la notion d'équilibre à l'âge classique à celle de tension vers quelque chose de supérieur et d'extérieur avec la beauté romantique et le sublime inquiétant, puis le décadentisme, la relation de haine puis d'amour avec la machine, la coexistence d'une beauté de rébellion et d'une beauté de consommation au XXème siècle... Livre à trois niveaux avec le texte proprement dit, les nombreuses illustrations, mais aussi les citations de textes du temps, consacrés souvent à l'art, mais le flirt avec la littérature n'est pas négligé... Un très beau travail, assurément. Osera-t-on regretter quelques longueurs, et que le pas vers le vrai livre de poche n'ait pas été sauté jusqu'au bout ?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lingkai

    Basically a tour of the art movements over time. Avoiding the big word "Art" next to history, this book is not really about the history of art. It is concerned with beauty. You'd know better, "What is beauty?" is basically an absurd question to ask. I still found it a good read anyways. A book to leave around the house to crack open at random places - ooh! pretty pictures! And some interesting lines. Liked the last few chapters the best. Of most interest to me: The beauty of machines The beauty of t Basically a tour of the art movements over time. Avoiding the big word "Art" next to history, this book is not really about the history of art. It is concerned with beauty. You'd know better, "What is beauty?" is basically an absurd question to ask. I still found it a good read anyways. A book to leave around the house to crack open at random places - ooh! pretty pictures! And some interesting lines. Liked the last few chapters the best. Of most interest to me: The beauty of machines The beauty of the Media The beauty of Consumption sort of colliding and crashing and caving in to the beauty of provocation. (Syncretion...I believe he used that word). It ends with this great statement, "Our explorer from the future will no longer be able to identify the aesthetic ideal diffused by the mass media of the twentieth century and beyond. He will have to surrender before the orgy of tolerance, the total syncretism and the absolute and unstoppable polytheism of Beauty"

  26. 4 out of 5

    J.j.

    This was a bit of a tough read in that it could be slightly boring at times and also lacked a coherent organization or scheme. True, Eco's main point is that there is not necessarily a theme to beauty, but this nonetheless made it a tougher read. The included philosophic tidbits were great and well selected, though I felt some added context would have helped overall. The images chosen were great, and almost always helped in understanding the ideas being presented. Overall, decent, but my biggest This was a bit of a tough read in that it could be slightly boring at times and also lacked a coherent organization or scheme. True, Eco's main point is that there is not necessarily a theme to beauty, but this nonetheless made it a tougher read. The included philosophic tidbits were great and well selected, though I felt some added context would have helped overall. The images chosen were great, and almost always helped in understanding the ideas being presented. Overall, decent, but my biggest problem is that I can't say I've walked away feeling I know much, if anything, more about beauty than I did going in.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mirande

    Although from time to time the writing is a little muddled or the thinking confused, on the whole the short overview sections give a coherent explanation of Eco's understanding of how our thinking about beauty has developed. The overviews are embedded within copious images of paintings, scultures, as well as excerpts from treatises and other texts. These are wonderful. Am borrowing this book from a friend, but would love a copy of my own. Would go back to it often.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I got this for Christmas ages ago and I think it's wedged into a back bookcase. Harper's reposted their review of it though and I might go back: The sensible George Santayana observed that beauty begins with sensation: what we immediately, and especially what children like immediately, is the best proof of sincerity. And when "sincerity is lost, and a snobbish ambition is substituted, bad taste comes in."

  29. 4 out of 5

    GONZA

    Bellissime immagini, interessanti spiegazioni, alcune note, altre meno. Come al solito Eco risulta ai miei occhi di gran lunga un migliore saggista che romanziere, anche se l'ultima delle sue fatiche letterarie (Tempo Zero) non é mortale come L'isola del giorno prima, anzi.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    Excellence in its own right ...

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