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History of Beauty

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  44,268 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Now in paperback, Umberto Eco’s groundbreaking and much-acclaimed first illustrated book has been a critical success since its first publication in 2004. What is beauty? Umberto Eco, among Italy’s finest and most important contemporary thinkers, explores the nature, the meaning, and the very history of the idea of beauty in Western culture. The profound and subtle text is ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published November 13th 2004 by Rizzoli (first published January 2004)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  44,268 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Reading Eco’s study On Beauty feels like visiting a Temple with very many chambers. In each room there are texts. There are also images, many of them too and of good quality and they are all photos of art pieces. During this visit we are accompanied by the talk of a commentator. He comments on the texts only. Not on the images. Each room corresponds to a period in the Quest of Beauty. In this pursuit we can also conceive each space as forming a petal of a different tone and shape, so that by the
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Really a 3 1/2 star book, but since that's not an option...

This book is misnamed, really "dictionary of Beauty" would be a closer title, while "Umberto Eco's Musings on Beauty in a loosely chronological order with occasionaly quotes about beauty from other thinkers and a boatload of pictures" would probably hit closest to home. Undoubtedly the publisher shot that title down and stuck History of Beauty in its place.

Strengths: Each individual section is fairly informative and interesting to read.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Even if I agree with most of the reproaches this book received (that it is more a guide than a study, that it is more a triumph of compression than of clarity, that it is too eclectic and so on) I have to say I really enjoyed it.

Is this a consequence of my great admiration for Umberto Eco or of my art dilettantism , I'm not sure (and I won't dig, so back off!). Anyway, I think the author completed his objectives, enumerated in Introduction:

- to identify Beauty as a thing pleasing to contemplate
Luís C.
It is a book that is not based on artistic criteria of beauty, but the beauty marked by time, by the concepts, for what it was and was considered beautiful in every season.

I think the author exceeds too much the beautiful setting, in keeping with the beauty.

He didn't convinced me.Sorry..I almost give it up..

It was only funny, cross myself with the various interpreters of the history of art ... But very little, very little.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not really a book you read cover to cover, and I guess some of the disappointment many people may feel comes from them picking it up and reading it like that. It is a dictionary a reference, it should open people's mind up to further investigate and research. As someone said the book does reflect his personal opinions and musings, but just by flicking though the book many times I have found myself diving deeper into periods, artists, works of art, techniques etc.
Apr 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: italy
It's an interesting topic: what is beauty? It might seem like a trivial question, but think about it: esthetics run through everything we do. Everything we read, watch, listen to, right down to the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the cans we buy food in are made to correspond to some standard of beauty. Where does all that come from? What makes us think a Rolls looks better than a Datsun? What makes Dickens a better writer than Stephenie Meyer? Why did medieaval Christ figures look triumph ...more
Metin Yılmaz
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, history
Güzellik nedir ne değildir hakkında kapsamlı bir araştırma Güzelliğin Tarihi. Fakat işlenişden mi yoksa dağınık gibi görünen farklı kronolojisinden mi bilemiyorum bir akıcılık sağlayamadı bende. Yer yer bildiğimiz tanımlamalar ve gerçeklerle karşılaştım. Bazen ise bilmediğim ama tahmin ettiğim bazı doğrularla. Genel olarak ise beklentimin altında ama okumaya da değer bir kitaptı.

Tabi kabul etmek gerekir ki bu çalışmanın çok ama çok önemli bir öğretisi var. Geçmişten günümüze gelindiğinde güzel
Ioannis Savvas
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Μια εμπεριστατωμένη μελέτη της προοπτικής της Ομορφιάς στο πέρασμα των αιώνων. Μια πανοραμική απεικόνιση της αντίληψης του ανθρώπου για το Ωραίο. Μέσα από την τέχνη και τη φιλοσοφία. Ένα ταξίδι στον τρόπο σκέψης των ανθρώπων για ένα από τα σημαντικότερα αγαθά της ζωής. Η Ομορφιά μέσα από τη θρησκεία, την καθημερινή ζωή, τον έρωτα, τη διαστροφή, ακόμα και μέσα από την Ασχήμια.

Μια καταπληκτική έκδοση των Εκδόσεων Καστανιώτη, με υψηλή ποιότητα χαρτιού και εκτύπωσης, άριστες φωτογραφίες έργων τέχνης
Dominika Žáková
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Obsažné, kvalitné, zazdrojované spracovanie. Musím ale priznať, že to bola pre mňa nuda a “len” zopakovanie vedomostí z výšky. Bodaj by som ju ale bola bývala prečítala pred štátnicami z dejín umenia!
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Absolutely disappointing. It's just another collection of selected paragraphs and quotes from historical and philosophical essays concerning Beauty and other aesthetical categories like the Picturesque or the Sublime, with some extra explanations. I expected it to be a new essay by Mr. Eco himself, but his presence and touch on the subject approached is almost inexistent or unnoticeable. Plus, a quite expensive book. So, if you're already into History of Art or Philosophy, don't even think about ...more
Compré La Historia de la Belleza para mi tesis sobre estética. Estudio Filosofía y al momento de hacer una tesis sobre estética creo que ya tengo algo de información al respecto, "por este motivo y sólo por este" no recomiendo el libro; es decir no lo recomiendo si lo buscas con fines de investigación académicos.

Sin embargo, es un excelente libro de refrencia para profundizar con otras investigaciones. Es una aproximación a "la belleza" con un lenguaje muy ameno, directo y simple que no complica
Atefeh Ahmadi
ترجمهی فرانسهی این کتاب رو گرفتم از کتابخونه و دلم گرفت از این چیزی که الان به فارسی هست. حجم کتاب سه برابره و پر از تصویره. یه سری تابلوی تطبیقی ساخته اولش از همهی ونوسها و آدونیسها که خودش به تنهایی جذابه. درسته که خیلی از عکسها قابل چاپ نبودن اما من نمیدونم چرا تابلوهای تطبیقی مریم مقدس و مسیح هم حذف شدن،صرفن برای این که حجمش کمتر شه و ارزونتر درآد؟! ...more
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a lot of stamina to go through. The concept is quite easy: each chapter contains a short description of the period in question and its understanding of beauty, accompanied by important artworks and literature of the time. These chapters are often just 3-5 pages. Nevertheless it's hard to read (weird layout, at least in the german edition, and hard to understand texts without comments) and boring at times. It doesn't feel like a cohesive book, but rather like lecture notes put tog ...more
The book originally was presented as a CD-Rom. Although I like books, I think the idea of the writer would be better experienced in an interactive webpage or digital media. Because a page limits you to what is in it or its neighbours, or a shorter or longer search for a glimpsed idea. Hyperlink and search functions really help to compare what is in common and to spot the differences.

The book deals with the idea of beauty, and how it has changed through time and cultures, using works of art as th
Agnes Fontana
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Umberto Eco a voulu éviter l'écueil du "beau livre d'art" qu'on vous offre, on répond "Ooooh, merci !!", on regarde au mieux une fois les images, puis on le met sur une étagère ou sur la table basse du salon et on le lit jamais... Pour déjouer le piège, Umberto Eco a réduit le livre au format quasi-poche, et en a fait un développement nourri mais resserré autour d'un fil rouge : comme la vision de la beauté a-t-elle évolué au cours du temps ? Proportions idéales chez les Antiques, reflet des val ...more
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art

I had to simply assign myself to get through the book. Though I read the book and made an honest attempt to absorb a goodly amount of the information, I suspect that I missed entire theses in my reading.

One reason is that the writing in supported with both images and text. Before I began the book I thought it was mostly an art historical history of beauty. I didn't realize how great a role writing, especially poetry and philosophy, would play in the theories expressed and discussed in the
Ahmad Sharabiani
History of beauty=Storia della bellezza, 2nd ed, 2005, Umberto Eco
تاریخ زیبایی: نظریه های زیبایی در فرهنگهای غربی؛ اثر: اومبرتو اکو؛ ترجمه و گزینش: هما بینا؛ پیشگفتار و تحشیه: جهانگیر شهدادی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، فرهنگستان هنر جمهوری اسلامی ایران، موسسه ی تالیف، ترجمه و نشر آثار هنری، 1390، در 230 ص، مصور ، بخشی رنگی، شابک: 9789642320844؛ کتابنامه ص 223، همچنین به صورت زیرنویس، نمایه دارد، موضوع: تاریخ زیبایی شناسی، هنر، فلسفه؛ از ترجمه انگلیسی به فارسی برگردانده شده است
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellence in its own right ...
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Не, не харесах тази книга. Като изключим картинките, има повече проблеми, отколкото достойнства. И не, не бих я използвала като меродавен източник за каквото и да било, така че не бих я нарекла "енциклопедия".

* * *

"История на красотата, представена от Умберто Еко", "Кибеа", прев. Маргарита и Евдокия Златарови, под научната редакция на д-р Аксиния Джурова, 2006 г.

"Ще ти кажа само следното: ти се опитваш при такова нечовешко положение да се държиш като човек. Това може да е прекрасно, но е безполе
Eℓℓis ♥
Dal libro:

Anche le cose brutte si compongono nell'armonia del mondo per via di proporzione e contrasto. La Bellezza [...] nasce anche da questi contrasti, e anche i mostri hanno una ragione e una dignità nel concetto del creato, anche il male nell'ordine diviene bello e buono perché da esso nasce il bene, e accanto a esso il bene meglio rifulge.

Jul 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barry Marks
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To begin, I have to confess that I am a huge Umberto Eco fan. I have enjoyed reading both fiction and non-fiction books penned by him. My only regret is that I have to read English translations as I am not going to learn Italian at this stage of my life.

This book to me is a post- modernist history of the concept of beauty. I have enjoyed reading cover to cover when I first got it and to this day still enjoy rereading parts of it and pursuing the many illustrations and examples of beauty and art
Laura Contreras
Feb 02, 2012 marked it as to-read
Lo estuve hojeando, tiene buenas imágenes....leí algunos pasajes, se ve interesante XD
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book clearly shows its origin as an electronic resource casually dealing with aesthetics. Not only is it not a "study", but it can feel rather fragmented and incoherent throughout. Eco and De Michele seem to intend this book to serve as "a history" of beauty rather than "the history", if one exists at all—it reads most like the textbook for an introductory survey course in art history/aesthetics.

I think this book does a decent job at striking the balance between a somewhat in-depth, insight
José Luís  Fernandes
History of Beauty is a nice exposition of the History of the concept of beauty. The scholarship by Eco is very good and the book has a lot of illustrations and primary sources to back his claims (although for the 20th century there is a lack of texts).

I must just warn that the stirrups didn't reach Europe in the High Middle Ages, but instead was already around in the late 6th and early 7th centuries (depending on the region) probably due to Avar influence. I also don't agree with the assertion
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Basically a tour of the art movements over time. Avoiding the big word "Art" next to history, this book is not really about the history of art. It is concerned with beauty.

You'd know better, "What is beauty?" is basically an absurd question to ask. I still found it a good read anyways. A book to leave around the house to crack open at random places - ooh! pretty pictures! And some interesting lines.

Liked the last few chapters the best.

Of most interest to me:

The beauty of machines

The beauty of t
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a bit of a tough read in that it could be slightly boring at times and also lacked a coherent organization or scheme. True, Eco's main point is that there is not necessarily a theme to beauty, but this nonetheless made it a tougher read.

The included philosophic tidbits were great and well selected, though I felt some added context would have helped overall. The images chosen were great, and almost always helped in understanding the ideas being presented.

Overall, decent, but my biggest
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although from time to time the writing is a little muddled or the thinking confused, on the whole the short overview sections give a coherent explanation of Eco's understanding of how our thinking about beauty has developed. The overviews are embedded within copious images of paintings, scultures, as well as excerpts from treatises and other texts. These are wonderful.

Am borrowing this book from a friend, but would love a copy of my own. Would go back to it often.
Sep 14, 2010 marked it as to-read
I got this for Christmas ages ago and I think it's wedged into a back bookcase. Harper's reposted their review of it though and I might go back:

The sensible George Santayana observed that beauty begins with sensation: what we immediately, and especially what children like immediately, is the best proof of sincerity. And when "sincerity is lost, and a snobbish ambition is substituted, bad taste comes in."
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bellissime immagini, interessanti spiegazioni, alcune note, altre meno. Come al solito Eco risulta ai miei occhi di gran lunga un migliore saggista che romanziere, anche se l'ultima delle sue fatiche letterarie (Tempo Zero) non é mortale come L'isola del giorno prima, anzi.
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Umberto Eco was an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His pe ...more