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The year is 1643. Roberto, a young nobleman, survives war, the Bastille, exile and shipwreck as he voyages to a Pacific island straddling the date meridian. There he waits now, alone on the mysteriously deserted Daphne, separated by treacherous reefs from the island beyond: the island of the day before. If he could reach it, time - and his misfortunes - might be reversed. But first he must learn to swim...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749396664
ISBN-10: 0749396660
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 33mm)
Pages: 528
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Oct-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Eco's third novel is similar to both The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum in its expansive range of subject matter and its consummate erudition. Roberto, a young Italian nobleman, is shipwrecked while spying on a 17th-century mission to discover the elusive scerets of longitude. He drifts to an abandoned ship, the Daphne, which is anchored on the date meridian in the Pacific, just off the coast of 'The Island of the Day Before'. Here he recounts the formative experiences of his life, from the siege of Casale to his fateful meeting with Mazarin and Colbert in Paris. An amazing historical tale which also considers philosophy, horology, cosmology, theology and identity along the way. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » An imaginative romance of shipwreck, survival, and philosophical adventuring by the formidably learned author of The Name of the Rose (1983), Foucault's Pendulum (1989), and, most recently, How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays (1994). In 1643, highborn Roberto della Griva, a soldier who has fought in the Thirty Years' War and subsequently been sent on a secret mission to the Antipodes, is shipwrecked in the South Pacific somewhere near the Fiji and Solomon Islands. He saves himself by clambering aboard another ship - the abandoned Daphne. Finding in its hold sufficient provisions and supplies, and gradually recovering his strength and his wits, Roberto records the events of his past life - his sheltered boyhood in Italy, confused exposure to the temporal claims of political allegiance, love of learning for its own sake, and sobering experience as devoted postulant to his scarcely approachable love objects. The tale of Roberto then is juxtaposed against his cautious exploration of the Daphne now, climaxing in the surprising fulfillment of his fears that the "intruder" whose companion presence he suspects may be the "evil twin brother" he has always had fantasies of. Simultaneously, a nameless omniscient narrator summarizes the record Roberto has left behind, ruefully assessing the latter's amazed discovery that the complexity of creation proves all things possible - including the contrary lives led by our alternative selves. Eco tests his readers severely, especially in detailed considerations of the mechanics of navigation and "the mystery of longitude." Yet even this novel's denser arcana are embodied in vivid characters speaking lively and funny dialogue. Prominent among Roberto's reality instructors are his genially blasphemous and metaphysically-minded father, inventor of an Aristotelian Memory Machine; his aphorism-spouting comrade-in-arms Saint-Savin; and the alarmingly polymathic scientist-priest, Father Caspar Wanderdrossel. Though weighted here and there by the longueurs of whimsy, this is on balance an intriguing and entertaining theoretical romp - a kind of Borgesian Robinson Crusoe. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco has written works of fiction, literary criticism and philosophy. His first novel, The Name of the Rose, was a major international bestseller and he has since published five other novels, including his latest, The Prague Cemetery along with many brilliant collections of essays.

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