My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an enjoyable read, though it treats quite deep matters in a superficial manner. It is translated excepts from an interview/conversation involving two bibliophiles: Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière.
In this digital age, with books said to be under threat, they show great confidence that the book will continue. Once invented, the book is like the spoon or the wheel – there’s nothing to add to it.
Being originally in French, I know almost nothing of many of the authors named, even the modern-day ones. But this does not make the book incomprehensible. The two (plus the conversation ‘curator’) range over many topics: books and authors lost; books burned; the folly of authors; the place of oral tradition; the point of collections and libraries, etc. Being a conversation, the material is not covered as thoroughly as an essay. And it’s repetitive. But the format clearly indicated what kind of book this is, so the spoken nature of the text is acceptable.
There’s a faint tension in the content. The chat contains the somewhat trendy intellectual doubt that we can really know anything – combined with strong and sometimes censorious judgements about certain people or groups. ‘We can’t know – but we really know.’
Especially for Jean-Claude, this became apparent concerning Christianity. He’s almost Dan Brown in what he says of the history of the four gospels and the ‘other/false gospels.’ There’s also the silly prejudice that asserts the textual tradition of the Bible is impossibly corrupted. If only he knew how foolish is this platitude …
Overall, though, I enjoyed that these two discussed belief systems as integral and normal parts of every culture. eliefs were not ignored, nor always mocked, just commented upon.