History of Beauty and On Ugliness
By Umberto Eco
888 pages; Rizzoli
That versatile man of letters Umberto Eco, most famous for his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, has now produced a gorgeously illustrated two-volume boxed set, History of Beauty and On Ugliness. Drawing examples from art and architecture, from Greek vases to medieval manuscripts, from Weimar art to Soviet Realism, these brilliant ruminations make us think about precisely why we recoil from the monstrous and grotesque and are drawn to the perfection of harmony, color, shape, and form.
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