This book is the follow up to the previous volume, "On Beauty". Apparently beauty and ugliness are concepts that imply each other, and by ugliness we usually mean the opposite of beauty, so all we need do is define the first to understand the nature of the second. But the various manifestations of ugliness over the centuries are richer and more ...Read MoreThis book is the follow up to the previous volume, "On Beauty". Apparently beauty and ugliness are concepts that imply each other, and by ugliness we usually mean the opposite of beauty, so all we need do is define the first to understand the nature of the second. But the various manifestations of ugliness over the centuries are richer and more unpredictable than is commonly thought. The anthological quotations and the extraordinary illustrations in this book lead us on a surprising journey among the nightmares, terrors, and loves of almost three thousand years, where acts of rejection go hand in hand with touching gestures of compassion, and the rejection of deformity is accompanied by decadent ecstasies over the most seductive violations of all classical canons.Among demons, madmen, horrible enemies, and disquieting presences, among horrid abysses and deformities that verge on the sublime, among freaks and the living dead, we discover a vast and often unsuspected iconographic vein. So much so that, on gradually encountering in these pages the ugliness of nature, spiritual ugliness, asymmetry, disharmony, disfigurement, and the succession of things sordid, weak, vile, banal, random, arbitrary, coarse, repugnant, clumsy, horrendous, vacuous, nauseating, criminal, spectral, witchlike, satanic, repellent, disgusting, unpleasant, grotesque, abominable, odious, crude, foul, dirty, obscene, frightening, abject, monstrous, hair-raising, ugly, terrible, terrifying, revolting, repulsive, loathsome, fetid, ignoble, awkward, ghastly and indecent, the first foreign publisher to see this book exclaimed: 'How beautiful ugliness is!'Read Less
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New. In the mold of his acclaimed History of Beauty, renowned cultural critic Umberto Eco's On Ugliness is an exploration of the monstrous and the repellant 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. Topics range from Milton's Satan to Goethe's Mephistopheles; from witchcraft and medieval torture tactics to martyrs, hermits, and penitents; from lunar births and disemboweled corpses to mythic monsters and sideshow freaks; and from Decadentism and picturesque ugliness to the tacky, kitsch, and camp, and the aesthetics of excess and vice. With abundant examples of painting and sculpture ranging from ancient Greek amphorae to Bosch, Brueghel, and Goya among others, and with quotations from the most celebrated writers and philosophers of each age, this provocative discussion explores in-depth the concepts of evil, depravity, and darkness in art and literature.
Mr. Eco has written a fascinating, often hilarious survey of "ugliness" in western art history. The book is also full of wonderful reproductions, so it's an unusual coffee-table browser as well as an informative read.
Oct 22, 2008
Umberto Eco once again shows his mastery of language and art. This companion piece to the History of Beauty once again uses art to illustrate the changing faces of ugliness to illustrate society and thought during the history humanity from antiquity to modern times. It is a book that compliments beauty and will supply a visual and verbal panorama of man's-woman's thought and expression of him-herself.
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