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This remarkable illustrated novel is Eco's most accessible and bestselling book since THE NAME OF THE ROSE.

Yambo, a sixty-ish rare book dealer who lives in Milan has suffered a loss of memory; not the kind of memory neurologists call 'semantic' (Yambo remembers all about Julius Caesar and can recite every poem he has ever read), but rather his 'autobiographical' memory: he no longer knows his own name, doesn't recognize his wife or his daughters, doesn't remember anything about his parents or his childhood.
His wife, who is at his side as he slowly begins to recover, convinces him to return to his family home in the hills somewhere between Milan and Turin. Yambo promptly retreats to the sprawling attic, cluttered with boxes of newspapers, comics, records, photo albums and adolescent diaries. There, he relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Cyrano de Bergerac. As he recovers his memory, two voids remain shrouded in fog: a terrible event he experienced during the resistance, and the vague image of a girl whom he loved at sixteen, then lost.
But a relapse occurs. Now in a coma, his memories run wild, and life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to find at last the face of the girl he loves: she descends the stairs of their high school and morphs into a Dante-esque promise (or threat) of the afterlife, as he struggles harder to capture her simple, innocent, real-life image - the schoolgirl he never forgot.
Copiously illustrated throughout with images from comics, book jackets, record sleeves and other printed ephemera, THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME is a fascinating and hugely entertaining new novel from the incomparable Umberto Eco.


Eco does something rare: he makes ideas moving

Michael Pye, Scotsman

As always with Eco, there is much to admire

Sunday Times

A beautiful evocation of a difficult period of Italian history, full of the flair and erudition for which we love Eco


Confirms Eco as an outstanding writer of philosophy dressed as fiction


Genuinely clever...the writing, the quotes and the pictures often tickle the brain

Irish Independent

Absorbing and enjoyable

Good Book Guide


Time Out

Perhaps the most intellectual novelist in Europe today. A highly idiosyncratic by engrossing novel

Glasgow Herald

Profound and moving. A wonderful entertainer



Sunday Times

The opening is delightful, the sort of stuff that has readers rubbing their hands in anticipation...it is good to see Eco recapture something of his former glories, bouncing ideas of his readers with characteristic zest

Sunday Telegraph


Big Issue

Confirms Eco as an outstanding writer of philosophy dressed as fiction

Stephanie Merrit, Observer

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    October 2, 2006


    464 pages

    RRP $32.99

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