cover image Apocalypse Postponed

Apocalypse Postponed

Umberto Eco. Indiana University Press, $29.95 (227pp) ISBN 978-0-253-31851-0

Best known for his novels The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum , Eco, a semiotics professor at the University of Bologna, explores mass media, politics, mass culture and counterculture in this collection of erudite essays from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s. A mixed bag, the book includes a structural analysis of bad taste, a report on independent, freewheeling radio stations in Italy and a cogent reading of George Orwell's 1984 as a criticism not only of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism but also of bourgeois mass culture. Dropping numerous allusions to the Italian cultural scene, Eco applies semiotics to decipher the signs and symbols in Charles Schulz's comic strip, Peanuts , Italian product design, vacuous political discourse, church pamphlets, Chinese comic strips and Fellini's movie about television, Ginger and Fred. (May)