The Power of Words is an attempt to assess the condition of the Humanities, specifically of literature and the book, in contemporary society and culture, and to identify emerging tendencies or describe situations of stasis, risks of disappearance or eclipse, sudden returns of the aesthetic, new and old literary functions. It also intends to provide, as paradigmatic examples, cultural maps or at least cartographies of different literatures from disparate places. Thematically the contributions range from Eco's tongue-in-cheek, self-ironic essay on books, texts, hypertexts and the web, to Sekyi-Otu's tragically melancholic depiction of the African continent and its literatures and politics, from Capozzi's complex exploration of the labyrinths of encyclopedic fiction to Gilardino's sober assessment of the struggle for identity of French-Canadian writers, from Buccheri's utopian "resurrection" of Orpheus to Dombroski's limpid description of ideology and the university curriculum, from O'Neill's often lyrical and theoretically brilliant defense of literature, to Holoch's meticulous and illuminating portrait of Chinese narrative's entanglement with the state. But these are only some of the features of the book, and not necessarily the most prominent. Keith Ellis' analysis of how words can betray humanity, or Morera's Gramscian interpretation of literature's connections with history, philosophy and society, or McNally's return to the pre-capitalist marketplace as the free-wheeling locus of ribald and democratic vitality, certainly expand and deepen the attempt to understand the power of words and literature.