The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
book — Italy — 2004

If Umberto Eco is to be trusted, this will be the last of him I`ll be reading. On one hand I can understand his position - he`s 73 now and you rarely write your best work when you`re beyond such age. Since 1983 when "The name of the rose" came out Eco has been loved and respected in the world of the reading public. He has also enjoyed quite a lot of success as a historian of the Middle Ages, so he has nothing to regret about. Yet his decision can do nothing but make me sad. When one of the greatest voices of a generation decides to write no more, it is always sad. And if it`s one of your favourite writers of all time, you can only regret it.
Still I have to say that "The Mysterious flame" is not Eco`s best novel. I would love to say that it is, for it`s always best to end on the highest note possible, but on my all time list "The Mysterious flame" comes as the least interesting of Eco`s works. The beginning of the novel is brilliant though - the way Yambo, a 60 year old book antiquarian, recovers from a stroke without remembering any of his life and remembering everything he`s read over the years of his life, is depicted in this novel in such a grand manner that I enjoyed it more than anything. Still later the book loses some of its charm - Eco gives too much attention to the happenings of WW2 where Yambo was a boy in a contra-mussolinian Italian family, description of his meeting the partisans etc, etc.
Unlike other Eco`s books where he inserted tons of medieval history in "The mysterious flame" he has chosen an approach of inserting bits and pictures of comics and children`s book of the pre-war and the post-war era. Although I know much more of that period than about freemasonry, monasteries and cartography this somehow leaves me cold. I don`t know, maybe I`m too young to appreciate it more, maybe I just expect too much of Eco.
And in case if you wonder what the "Mysterious flame of Queen Loanna" is - it`s also a fragment from a comic book about some strange queen of a native Americans` tribe, something that would have no meaning in Yambo`s live, had he not thought of it as of a passage to Sibilla - a girl he loved when he was still at school and a girl who`s face he can`t see anymore.
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