A conversation curated by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac
The perfect gift for book lovers: a beautifully designed hardcover in which two of the world's great men have a delightfully rambling conversation about the future of the book in the digital era, and decide it is here to stay.
These days it is almost impossible to get away from discussions of whether the ‘book’ will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles appear daily on the subject, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting they don’t know what will happen. Amidst the twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air. There are few people better placed to discuss the past, present and future of the book. Both of them avid book collectors with a deep understanding of history, they have explored through their work, both written and visual, the many and varied ways in which ideas have been represented through the ages.
This beautifully produced book, an object of desire in itself, is the transcription of a long conversation between the two men in which they discuss a vast range of subjects, from what can be defined as the first book, to the idea of the library, the burning of books both accidental and deliberate, and what will happen to knowledge and memory when infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdote about everything from Eco’s first computer to the book Carrière is most sad to have sold.
Readers will close this book feeling that they have had the privilege of eavesdropping on an intimate discussion between two great minds. And while, as Carrière says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive. After all, as Eco says: like the spoon, once invented, it cannot be bettered.
“A storming book. The next best thing to sitting in Umberto Eco's living room after dinner; a dream collection of lucid and fascinating discussions.”
“This book is a reminder that the satisfaction of working through even a relatively short book comes in part through confronting digressions, dead ends and distractions: the hallmark of conversation between friends, not of Internet speed-reading.”
Wall Street Journal
“As the conversation blossoms, the pair wander blissfully off topic into wider philosophical speculation about the nature of culture, for instance or humanity's curious relationship with past, present and future. And along the way there are plenty of pleasant diversions and anecdotes, taking in such diverse subject matter as Italian cinema forgotten French baroque poets, and the place of philosophy in contemporary European education systems. All this, naturally, informed by their love of books”