lost in translation

I have been plugging away at Umberto Eco’s novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana for months now. It’s not that I don’t like it, per se, but reading Eco is often a bit of an education, as he commonly uses his prose to prop up his academic obsessions – and this I usually enjoy: I like the mountains of research I would never be prepared to do myself appearing in the narrative before me.  It’s daunting and cool.tecomysterious The Mysterious Flame is true to form, but good God he’s exploring the cultural influences of his own childhood: a man who has lost his memory tries to reconstruct a personal history by delving in to a collective past, sifting through all the marginalia that may or may not have influenced his development, including music, pulp fiction, comics, magazines, books; the catalogue goes on and on. There are even full colour plates inserted throughout the novel. This could be a great exploration of a generation’s influences, an examination of the cultural fabric back-dropping an entire age – and I suppose it is – but I am not Italian. None of it makes any sense to me. I don’t recognize any of the pop icons he’s talking about. The book titles are unfamiliar. Music that I may have heard in passing at a grandparent’s or amongst community gatherings as a child are mentioned without any flash of recollection. All that I’m getting out of the experience is the impression that growing up during the gestation of fascist nationalism involved a lot of dressing up in paramilitary garb and singing indoctrination ditties designed to wear down the importance of individuality in favour of an imperial identity; and that there was a lot of huddling ‘round the radio in the dark at night.

Also true to form, I’m about half way through the book, and nothing much has happened yet.

So a couple of days ago I gave it all up and blew through the 700 pages of this instead. Magical explosions are awesome.


~ by A Mundi on March 27, 2009.

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