The Island of the Day Before

The Island of the Day Before

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After a violent storm in the South Pacific in the year 1643, Roberto della Griva finds himself shipwrecked-on a ship. Swept from the Amaryllis, he has managed to pull himself aboard the Daphne, anchored in the bay of a beautiful island. The ship is fully provisioned, he discovers, but the crew is missing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156030373
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 06/01/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 530
Sales rank: 469,475
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.18(d)

About the Author

UMBERTO ECO (1932–2016) was the author of numerous essay collections and seven novels, including The Name of the Rose,The Prague Cemetery, and Inventing the Enemy. He received Italy’s highest literary award, the Premio Strega, was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government, and was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Bologna, Italy

Date of Birth:

January 5, 1932

Date of Death:

February 19, 2016

Place of Birth:

Alessandria, Italy


Ph.D., University of Turin, 1954

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The Island of the Day Before 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
mrafael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
loved the anachronistic head space shifting
WaxPoetic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been on my shelf for a very long time, and while I couldn't quite get into it, I also couldn't get rid of it - waiting for that elusive 'Someday' to read it. When I first learned of Do Nothing but Read Day at The Green Dragon, I decided that this would be the book for that day. Fortunately, I planned to take two days. And I used both of them.It is not a rollicking adventure in the vein of Baudolino or a mystery as In The Name of the Rose. The physical adventure of being shipwrecked on an anchored ship is mitigated by the total indolence of the protagonist. He is entirely self-centered and while not unintelligent, disinclined to keep his thoughts at any matter at hand. It's a fantastic conceit, as it leaves scads of room for the narrator of the story room to ponder, to consider, to teach and to be confused. It is the brilliance of Umberto Eco (and his translator, William Weaver) that allow the joy of language to carry the story that isn't even really a story through every one of its movements and mini-treatises on intellectual trends. It is something that intrigues me - how content Eco seems to be to explore the thought of different ages fully and completely in his novels, choosing adventures that are entirely plausible (though rarely probably) in the time of the story. This is not a book that will appeal to every reader. Even those who enjoy long books may not enjoy this book, as it is not only lengthy but incredibly dense - it is joyful density, but that does not make it any easier to read. I think I read it too quickly, but now that I've read it, I am happy to read through it in pieces again and again.
pmtracy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is translated from the Italian title of L'isola del giorno prima. I bought this on a whim at an eclectic bookstore called the Tattered Cover in Denver, CO. I had read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco when I was in high school but I hadn¿t picked up any of his other works since.In this book, the main character, Roberto, must deal with his mysterious stranding on a ship that is tantalizingly close to an island offering refuge. Unfortunately, Roberto can¿t swim. The author¿s juxtaposition of real life events with the fantastical period on the ship adds a dream-like quality to a great portion of the story.Large parts of the book attempt to explain Roberto¿s situation through a series of flashbacks relating his role in the battles of Casale, the loss of his father, his unrequited love for Lilia and his suspicion of an imaginary evil brother he names Ferrante. Towards the end of the book, Roberto attempts to provide solace to himself in writing a novel explaining how Ferrante lead to his demise through attempts to steal Lilia and ruin him politically. Roberto received a serious head wound during the war. This injury combined with his confusion between space and time, his paranoid schizophrenic behavior during his time on the ship and his inability to separate reality from fantasy leads the reader to believe the main character suffered from a serious mental illness.The book is also a treatise on topics that were popular during the Age of Reason including: astronomy, navigation, cartography, medicine, mechanics and the scientific method. These descriptions, such as the dissertation on the difficulty in calculating longitude and its importance in navigation, receive numerous paragraphs of intricate details. Roberto also entwines the poetic. For example, his lengthy narrative regarding time includes a passage about clocks that reads, in part, ¿those cogged wheels that shredded the day into bits of instants and consumed life in a music of death.¿ While the information doesn¿t further the story, it adds to the overall lushness and fabric of detail that makes this book interesting.The title of the book arises from the conflict between the science of navigation and how we define ¿time.¿ Should Roberto be able to swim from the ship on which he is stranded to the nearby island, he would cross the International Date Line and we would essentially arrive at the island the ¿day before.¿ The book ends with Roberto¿s final attempt to reach that island with no mention to his achievement of that goal.
P_S_Patrick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book, it wasn't as gripping as Foucault's Pendulum, so I read it a more relaxed pace, it'll definitely be a good one to languish with if you're in that kind of mood. It has similar themes in that it deals with History and Philosophy, and involves traveling, but is perhaps a little less ambitious. I think he deals with the Philosophical themes well, though I can understand the criticism that they sometimes feel out of place, such as the multiple universe theory being dealt with in a 16th century setting, though the rest of it seems more or less natural, especially some of the out of date scientific theories and though that was prevalent at the time being woven into the story. The characters seem plausible, and the world is described well, and you get a good well detailed picture of the story he is telling from the view of the protagonist. You can understand what he is feeling, why he makes the choices he does, and can imagine yourself in the plot. If you are after a good escapist book to sit around reading on a lazy afternoon, then this might be one to try. I am definitely becoming a fan of this author, and will seek out more of his books. This is different to Foucault's pendulum, and I can't decide if it is different in a bad way or a good way, perhaps it is just indifferently different. I know I enjoyed reading it, but I don't know really who I can specifically say that you will enjoy this to, aside from fans of historical adventures, and of course Eco fans.
literarysarah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not suspenseful like The Name of the Rose or rewardingly complex like Focault's Pendulum, this book never really hooked me. For one thing, the characters spend far too much time debating the relative positions and trajectories of the earth and the sun. At least Umberto Eco never writes the same book twice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book! Obviously the guy who gave it one star has no clue what semiotics is. This is one of the books I would take with me if I would be cast away on an island for the rest of my life, and only allowed to take ten books with me.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
For all Eco lovers out there, this is a must-read. I must say I did enjoy this book, however it took me a very looooooonnng time to read this book. I wasn't compelled to take it everywhere with me and read every second I could as I did with other works by Eco. This book jumps back and forth in the main character Roberto's time and reality. There were very interesting statements made in the book that made me think (I suppose that is Eco's philosophy/semiotics background). The idea of being a castaway upon a ship is intriguing in itself, however I kept asking myself, 'Why doesn't Roberto just sail away on the ship back to civilization?' This is definitely not a 'mindless' novel. If you didn't care for the movie 'Castaway' with Tom Hanks, you probably won't like this book. But if you love 'Castaway' (like I do) you will surely love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eco spins a marvelous tale that doesn't let up until the last page. This book will have you anxiously turning pages, and wanting more. Few authors have the ability to write this kind of complex prose. Yes this book is long and confusing at times, but the payoff is worth it. If you want a challenge with a wonderful reward, curl up with 'The Island of the Day Before.'
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Roberto de la Griva is an Italian nobleman from the 17th century. After a leisure living experience in Paris, he is accused of treason by Cardinal Richelieu's advisors and sent on to travel the Amaryllis to the South Pacific to discover the means by which navigators can understand the mystery of the "longitude." He is supposed to spy on the Dutchmen and report back to Richelieu. After a violent storm, Roberto finds himself shipwrecked. Swept from the Amaryllis, he manages to pull himself aboard the Daphne-anchored in the bay of a beautiful island. The Daphne is fully provisioned but the crew is missing. As he resolves to write a diary we learned from his youth: Ferrante, his imaginary evil brother; the siege of Casale which cost him his father's death, and the lessons given him on fencing, blasphemy, and the writing of love letters. Soon he discovers that he is not alone on the Daphne-Father Caspar Casale, a Jesuit and scientist, is also obsessed with the problem of longitudes. Roberto and Caspar perform certain experiments-to no avail. The book is 503 pages and it basically deals with the mysteries of life and death: "I am not urging you to prepare for the next life, but to use well this, the only life that is given you, in order to face, when it does come, the only death you will ever experience. It is necessary to mediate early, and often, on the art of dying, to succeed later in doing it properly just once." (p. 132). Unfortunately the book is narrated by an unknown person, the point of view being universal and confusing. To quote the narrator: "We will remember, I hope-for Roberto has borrowed from the novelists of his century the habit of narrating so many stories at once that at a certain point it becomes difficult to pick up the thread." (p.423) And that is why I would stay away from this book. It is as boring as it is confusing.