x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

At the table with Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière

This Is Not the End of the Book is a conversation between the two authors, a lively and entertaining read about the future of books in the age of the internet and the nature of reading.

This Is Not the End 
of the Book
Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière
Harvill Secker
Dh98
This Is Not the End of the Book Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière Harvill Secker Dh98

It may seem a little short-sighted to put the conclusion of a book in its title, but this lively read is so much more than the usual cliché-ridden discussion on whether the book in its traditional form will survive the digital revolution.

Taking the format of a conversation between the author Umberto Eco and the playwright Jean-Claude Carrière and transcribed from several sessions held in the writers' homes, their musings on the internet are merely a starting point for a fascinating Socratic dialogue between two avid collectors. Throughout, the text is peppered with entertaining anecdotes about their personal libraries, books they have loved and sold and the future for their vast treasure troves.

"The story of a book can bring alive the story of an entire civilisation," declares Carrière, as the reader gets a fly-on-the-wall perspective on their passions and psyches.

They are occasionally flawed; puritanism in India, where the majority of the population is Hindu, is blamed on "the influence of Islam" and there are some broad sweeping generalisations that do not always stand up to scrutiny. But this is the ultimate invite to a dinner party with two intellectual powerhouses - and who wouldn't want to be sitting at that table?