Umberto Eco
Overview
 
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross
Omri
Omri was a king of Israel, successful military campaigner and first in the line of Omride kings that included Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram.He was "commander of the army" of king Elah when Zimri murdered Elah and made himself king. Instead, the troops at Gibbethon chose Omri as king, and he led them to...

(born 5 January 1932) is an Italian semiotician
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, essayist
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

(Il nome della rosa, 1980), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He has also written academic texts, children's books and many essays. Eco is the founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione at the University of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna
University of Bologna
The Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna is the oldest continually operating university in the world, the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation. The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088...

, member of the Accademia dei Lincei
Accademia dei Lincei
The Accademia dei Lincei, , is an Italian science academy, located at the Palazzo Corsini on the Via della Lungara in Rome, Italy....

 (since November 2010) and an Honorary Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

.
Quotations

The day after the fall of Nikita Khrushchev|Khrushchev, the editors of Pravda, Izvestiia, the heads of the radio and television were replaced; the army wasn't called out. Today a country belongs to the person who controls communications.

From Il costume di casa (1973); English Edition: Travels in Hyperreality (1986)

In the United States, politics is a profession, whereas in Europe it is a right and a duty.

Preface to the American edition of Travels in Hyperreality (1986)

To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative — the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time.

Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (1994) Chapter Four: "Possible Woods"

Reflecting on these complex relationships between reader and story, fiction and life, can constitute a form of therapy against the sleep of reason, which generates monsters.

Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (1994) Chapter Six: "Fictional Protocols"

After all, the cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopaedia.

Serendipities: Language and Lunacy (1998)

I don't miss my youth. I'm glad I had one, but I wouldn't like to start over.

"On the Disadvantages and Advantages of Death" in La mort et l'immortalié, edited by Frédéric Lenoir (2004).

There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.

A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks.

Encyclopedia
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross
Omri
Omri was a king of Israel, successful military campaigner and first in the line of Omride kings that included Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram.He was "commander of the army" of king Elah when Zimri murdered Elah and made himself king. Instead, the troops at Gibbethon chose Omri as king, and he led them to...

(born 5 January 1932) is an Italian semiotician
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, essayist
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

(Il nome della rosa, 1980), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He has also written academic texts, children's books and many essays. Eco is the founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione at the University of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna
University of Bologna
The Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna is the oldest continually operating university in the world, the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation. The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088...

, member of the Accademia dei Lincei
Accademia dei Lincei
The Accademia dei Lincei, , is an Italian science academy, located at the Palazzo Corsini on the Via della Lungara in Rome, Italy....

 (since November 2010) and an Honorary Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

. As of 2011, Eco is one of the world's best selling authors due to his novel The Prague Cemetery
The Prague Cemetery
The Prague Cemetery is a novel by Italian author Umberto Eco published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller that sold millions of copies .-Plot summary:...

.

Biography

Eco was born in the city of Alessandria
Alessandria
-Monuments:* The Citadel * The church of Santa Maria di Castello * The church of Santa Maria del Carmine * Palazzo Ghilini * Università del Piemonte Orientale-Museums:* The Marengo Battle Museum...

 in the region of Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

 (northern Italy). His father, Giulio, was an accountant before the government called upon him to serve in three wars. During World War II, Umberto and his mother, Giovanna, moved to a small village in the Piedmontese mountainside. Eco received a Salesian education, and he has made references to the order and its founder in his works and interviews. His family name is supposedly an acronym of ex caelis oblatus (Latin: a gift from the heavens), which was given to his grandfather (a foundling) by a city official.

His father was the son of a family with thirteen children, and urged Umberto to become a lawyer, but he entered the University of Turin
University of Turin
The University of Turin is a university in the city of Turin in the Piedmont region of north-western Italy...

 in order to take up medieval philosophy and literature, writing his thesis on Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 and earning his Laurea
Laurea
In Italy, the laurea is the main post-secondary academic degree.-Reforms due to the Bologna process:Spurred by the Bologna process, a major reform was instituted in 1999 to introduce easier university degrees comparable to the bachelors...

 in philosophy in 1954. During his university studies, Eco stopped believing in God and left the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. After this, Eco worked as a cultural editor for the state broadcasting station Radiotelevisione Italiana
RAI
RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A. known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane, is the Italian state owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development. Rai is the biggest television company in Italy...

 (RAI) and also lectured at the University of Turin (1956–1964). A group of avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 artists, painters, musicians, writers, whom he had befriended at RAI (Gruppo 63) became an important and influential component in Eco's future writing career. This was especially true after the publication of his first book in 1956, Il problema estetico in San Tommaso, which was an extension of his doctoral thesis. This also marked the beginning of his lecturing career at his alma mater
Alma mater
Alma mater , pronounced ), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Christianity for the Virgin Mary.-General term:...

.

In September 1962, he married Renate Ramge, a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 art teacher with whom he has a son and a daughter. He divides his time between an apartment in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 and a vacation house near Rimini
Rimini
Rimini is a medium-sized city of 142,579 inhabitants in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and capital city of the Province of Rimini. It is located on the Adriatic Sea, on the coast between the rivers Marecchia and Ausa...

. He has a 30,000 volume library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 in the former and a 20,000 volume library in the latter. In 1992–1993 Eco was the Norton professor at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. On May 23, 2002, Eco received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 in New Brunswick
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. It is the county seat and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. Eco is a member of the Italian skeptic organization CICAP
CICAP
CICAP is an Italian, non-profit, skeptic organization, founded in 1989. CICAP's main goals are the promotion of the scientific analysis of alleged paranormal phenomena...

.

Studies on medieval esthetics

In 1959, he published his second book, Sviluppo dell'estetica medievale (The Development of Medieval Aesthetics), which established Eco as a formidable thinker in medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

 and proved his literary worth to his father. After 18 months' military service in the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

, he left RAI in 1959 to become the senior non-fiction editor of the Bompiani publishing house in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, a position he occupied until 1975. Eco's work on medieval aesthetics stressed the distinction between theory and practice. About the Middle Ages, he wrote that there was "a geometrically rational schema of what beauty ought to be, and on the other [hand] the unmediated life of art with its dialectic of forms and intentions", the two cut off from one another as if by a pane of glass. Eco's work in literary theory has changed focus over time. Initially, he was one of the pioneers of "Reader Response
Reader-response criticism
Reader-response criticism is a school of literary theory that focuses on the reader and his or her experience of a literary work, in contrast to other schools and theories that focus attention primarily on the author or the content and form of the work.Although literary theory has long paid some...

".

Literary criticism

During these years, Eco began seriously developing his ideas on the "open" text and on semiotics, writing many essays on these subjects, and in 1962 he published Opera aperta (translated into English as "The Open Work"). In it, Eco argued that literary texts are fields of meaning, rather than strings of meaning, that they are understood as open, internally dynamic and psychologically engaged fields. Literature which limits one's potential understanding to a single, unequivocal line, the closed text, remains the least rewarding, while texts that are the most active between mind and society and life (open text
Open text
In semiotic analysis, an open text is a text that allows multiple or mediated interpretation by the readers. In contrast, a closed text leads the reader to one intended interpretation....

s) are the most lively and best—although valuation terminology is not his primary area of focus. Eco emphasizes the fact that words do not have meanings that are simply lexical, but rather, they operate in the context of utterance. I. A. Richards
I. A. Richards
Ivor Armstrong Richards was an influential English literary critic and rhetorician....

 and others said as much, but Eco draws out the implications for literature from this idea. He also extended the axis of meaning from the continually deferred meanings of words in an utterance to a play between expectation and fulfilment of meaning. Eco comes to these positions through study of language and from semiotics, rather than from psychology or historical analysis (as did theorists such as Wolfgang Iser
Wolfgang Iser
-Biography:He was born in Marienberg, Germany. His parents were Paul and Else Iser. He studied literature in the universities of Leipzig and Tübingen before receiving his PhD in English at Heidelberg with a dissertation on the world view of Henry Fielding...

, on the one hand, and Hans-Robert Jauss
Hans-Robert Jauss
Hans Robert Jauss was a German academic, notable for his work in reception theory and medieval and modern French literature.-Early years and education:...

, on the other).

Studies on mass media and mass culture

From the late '50s till the late '60s, before his semiotic turn, Eco engaged in studies on mass media and mass culture, which were published in various newspapers and journals. According to some these studies were influential although he did not develop a full-scale theory in this field.

His short 1961 essay Fenomenologia di Mike Bongiorno (Phenomenology of Mike Bongiorno, on the most popular quiz show
Quiz Show
Quiz Show is a 1994 American historical drama film produced and directed by Robert Redford. Adapted by Paul Attanasio from Richard Goodwin's memoir Remembering America, the film is based upon the Twenty One quiz show scandal of the 1950s...

 host, Mike Bongiorno
Mike Bongiorno
Michael Nicholas Salvatore Bongiorno , known as Mike Bongiorno, was an American-born Italian television host. He started his career on Italian TV in the 1950s and was considered to be the most popular host in Italy...

), received much notoriety among the general public, and has drawn endless questions by journalists in every public appearance by Eco; it was later included in the collection Diario minimo (1963). His book Apocalittici e integrati (1964) analyzes the phenomenon of mass communication from a sociological perspective.

In 1967 he gave the influential lecture Towards a Semiological Guerrilla Warfare, which coined the influential term "semiological guerrilla," and influenced the theorization of guerrilla tactics against mainstream
Mainstream
Mainstream is, generally, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct....

 mass media culture, such as guerrilla television
Guerrilla Television
Guerrilla television is a term coined in 1971 by Michael Shamberg, one of the founders of the Raindance Foundation; the Raindance Foundation has been one of the counter-culture video collectives that in the 1960s and 1970s extended the role of the underground press to new communication...

 and culture jamming
Culture jamming
Culture jamming, coined in 1984, denotes a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. Guerrilla semiotics and night discourse are sometimes used synonymously with the term culture jamming.Culture...

. Among the expressions used in the essay, are "communications guerrilla warfare" and "cultural guerrilla." The essay was later included in Eco's book Faith in Fakes
Faith in Fakes
Il costume di casa was originally an essay written by the Italian semiotician Umberto Eco, about "America's obsession with simulacra and counterfeit reality." It was later incorporated as the centrepiece of the anthology bearing the same name, a collection of articles and essays about Italian...

.

Semiotics

Eco co-founded Versus
Versus (journal)
Versus: Quaderni di studi semiotici is an influential semiotic journal in Italy. Founded by Umberto Eco, et al. in 1971, it has been an important confrontation space for a large number of scholars of several fields coping with signs and signification...

: Quaderni di studi semiotici
(known as VS among Italian academics), an influential semiotic journal. VS has become an important publication platform for many scholars whose work is related to signs and signification. The journal's foundation and activities have contributed to the growing influence of semiotics as an academic field in its own right, both in Italy and in the rest of Europe.
Most of the well-known European semioticians, among them Eco, A.J. Greimas, Jean-Marie Floch, Paolo Fabbri
Paolo Fabbri
Paolo Fabbri is an Italian musicologist and academic. In 1989 he was awarded the Dent Medal. He is best known for his extensive publications on the life and works of Gioachino Rossini, and for a biography of composer Claudio Monteverdi which was first published in the Italian language in Turin in...

, Jacques Fontanille
Jacques Fontanille
Jacques Fontanille is a French semiotician who is one of the main exponents of the Paris School of Semiotics. He has authored or co-authored ten books and a number of articles or book chapters whose topics span theoretical semiotics, literary semiotics, and semiotics of the visual...

, Claude Zilberberg
Claude Zilberberg
Claude Zilberberg, Docteur d'État, was born in France in 1938. He is co-director of the Paris Intersemiotic Seminar.- Actual working :For more than 20 years, Claude Zilberberg has been analysing the effects of applying tensive modelling as an overlay onto the foundation of Greimasian semiotic...

, Ugo Volli and Patrizia Violi, have published original articles in VS. Articles by younger, less famous scholars dealing with new research perspectives in semiotics also find place in almost every issue of VS.

Action in anthropology

In 1988, at the University of Bologna, Eco created an unusual program called Anthropology of the West from the perspective of non-Westerners (African and Chinese scholars), as defined by their own criteria. Eco developed this transcultural international network based on the idea of Alain Le Pichon in West Africa. The Bologna program resulted in a first conference in Guangzhou, China, in 1991 entitled "Frontiers of Knowledge." The first event was soon followed by an Itinerant Euro-Chinese seminar on "Misunderstandings in the Quest for the Universal" along the silk trade route from Canton to Beijing. The latter culminated in a book entitled The Unicorn and the Dragon, which discussed the question of the creation of knowledge in China and in Europe. Scholars contributing to this volume were from China, including Tang Yijie, Wang Bin and Yue Dayun, as well as from Europe: (Furio Colombo, Antoine Danchin
Antoine Danchin
Antoine Danchin PhD DSc is a French geneticist known for his research in several fields of biology, from the structure and function of adenylate cyclase, to modelisation of learning in the nervous system and the early development of genomics and bioinformatics. He is the Chairman of the startup...

, Jacques Le Goff
Jacques Le Goff
Jacques Le Goff is a prolific French historian specializing in the Middle Ages, particularly the 12th and 13th centuries....

, Paolo Fabbri
Paolo Fabbri
Paolo Fabbri is an Italian musicologist and academic. In 1989 he was awarded the Dent Medal. He is best known for his extensive publications on the life and works of Gioachino Rossini, and for a biography of composer Claudio Monteverdi which was first published in the Italian language in Turin in...

, Alain Rey
Alain Rey
Alain Rey is a French linguist, lexicographer and radio personality. He is the editor-in-chief at French dictionary publisher Dictionnaires Le Robert.- Biography :...

)

In 2000 a seminar in Timbuktu
Timbuktu
Timbuktu , formerly also spelled Timbuctoo, is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali...

 (Mali), was followed by another gathering in Bologna to reflect on the conditions of reciprocal knowledge between East and West. This in turn gave rise to a series of conferences in Brussels, Paris, and Goa, culminating in Beijing in 2007. The topics of the Beijing conference were "Order and Disorder","New Concepts of War and Peace", "Human Rights" and "Social Justice and Harmony". Eco presented the opening lecture. The following anthropologists gave presentations: from India (Balveer Arora, Varun Sahni, Rukmini Bhaya Nair
Rukmini Bhaya Nair
-Biography:Rukmini Bhaya Nair received her Ph.D at the University of Cambridge. She specializes in cognitive linguistics and critical theory. She is a professor of Linguistics and English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She is the...

); from Africa (Moussa Sow
Moussa Sow
Moussa Sow is a French-born Senegalese football player who currently plays for French club Lille in Ligue 1.-Club Career:...

); from Europe (Roland Marti, Maurice Olender); from Korea (Cha Insuk); from China (Huang Ping, Zhao Tinyang). Also on the program were scholars from the domains of law or science: (Antoine Danchin
Antoine Danchin
Antoine Danchin PhD DSc is a French geneticist known for his research in several fields of biology, from the structure and function of adenylate cyclase, to modelisation of learning in the nervous system and the early development of genomics and bioinformatics. He is the Chairman of the startup...

, Ahmed Djebbar, Dieter Grimm). Eco's interest in East/West dialogue to facilitate international communication and understanding also correlates with his related interest in the international auxiliary language Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

.

Novels

Eco's fiction has enjoyed a wide audience around the world, with many translations. His novels are full of subtle, often multilingual, references to literature and history and his dense, intricate plots tend to take dizzying turns. Eco's work illustrates the concept of intertextuality
Intertextuality
Intertextuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can include an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another. The term “intertextuality” has, itself, been borrowed and transformed many times since it was coined...

, or the inter-connectedness of all literary works. Eco cites James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 and Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 as the two modern authors who have influenced his work the most.

Eco employed his education as a medievalist in his first novel The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

(1980), a historical mystery set in a 14th century monastery. Franciscan friar William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

, aided by his assistant Adso, a Benedictine novice, investigates a series of murders at a monastery that is to host an important religious debate. The novel contains many direct or indirect metatextual
Metatextuality
Metatextuality is a form of intertextual discourse in which one text makes critical commentary on another text. This concept is related to Gérard Genette's concept of hypertextuality in which a text changes or expands on the content of another text....

 references to other sources, requiring the detective work of the reader to 'solve'. The title is unexplained in the book. As a symbol, the rose is ubiquitous enough to not confer any single meaning. There is a tribute to Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

, a major influence on Eco, in the blind monk and librarian Jorge of Burgos: Borges, like Jorge, lived a celibate life consecrated to his passion for books, and also went blind in later life. William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

 is a logically-minded Englishman who is a monk and a detective, and his name evokes both William of Ockham
William of Ockham
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

 and Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

 (by way of The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of four crime novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an...

). Several descriptive paragraphs are transcriptions from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's characterisation of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

. The underlying mystery of the murder is borrowed from the "Arabian Nights". The Name of the Rose was later made into a motion picture
The Name of the Rose (film)
The Name of the Rose is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian Slater is his apprentice Adso of Melk, who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval...

 starring Sean Connery
Sean Connery
Sir Thomas Sean Connery , better known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930), better known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy...

, F. Murray Abraham
F. Murray Abraham
Fahrid Murray Abraham is an American actor. He became known during the 1980s after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. He has appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men and Scarface...

, Christian Slater
Christian Slater
Christian Michael Leonard Slater is an American actor. He made his film debut with a small role in The Postman Always Rings Twice before playing a leading role in the 1985 film The Legend of Billie Jean...

 and Ron Perlman
Ron Perlman
Ronald N. "Ron" Perlman is an American television, film and voice over actor. He is known for having played Vincent in the TV series Beauty and the Beast , a Deathstroke figure known as Slade in the animated series Teen Titans, Clarence "Clay" Morrow in Sons of Anarchy, the comic book character...

 which employs the plot rather than the philosophical and historical themes from the novel.

In Foucault's Pendulum (1988), three under-employed editors who work for a minor publishing house decide to amuse themselves by inventing a conspiracy theory. Their conspiracy, which they call "The Plan", is about an immense and intricate plot to take over the world by a secret order descended from the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

. As the game goes on, the three slowly become obsessed with the details of this plan. The game turns dangerous when outsiders learn of The Plan, and believe that the men have really discovered the secret to regaining the lost treasure of the Templars.

The Island of the Day Before
The Island of the Day Before
The Island of the Day Before is a 1994 novel by Umberto Eco.It is the story of a 17th century Italian nobleman who is the only survivor of a shipwreck during a fierce storm. He finds himself washed up on an abandoned ship in a harbour through which, he convinces himself, runs the International...

was Eco's third novel. The book, set in the seventeenth century, is about a man marooned
Marooning
Marooning is the intentional leaving of someone in a remote area, such as an uninhabited island. The word appears in writing in approximately 1709, and is derived from the term maroon, a word for a fugitive slave, which could be a corruption of Spanish cimarrón, meaning a household animal who has...

 on a ship within sight of an island which he believes is on the other side of the international date-line. The main character is trapped by his inability to swim and instead spends the bulk of the book reminiscing on his life and the adventures that brought him to be marooned.

Baudolino
Baudolino
Baudolino is a 2000 novel by Umberto Eco about the adventures of a young man named Baudolino in the known and mythical Christian world of the 12th century.Baudolino was translated into English in 2001 by William Weaver...

was published in 2000. Baudolino is a knight who saves the Byzantine historian Niketas Choniates during the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

. Claiming to be an accomplished liar, he confides his history, from his childhood as a peasant lad endowed with a vivid imagination, through his role as adopted son of Emperor Frederic Barbarossa
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

, to his mission to visit the mythical realm of Prester John
Prester John
The legends of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, and told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval...

. Throughout his retelling, Baudolino brags of his ability to swindle and tell tall tales, leaving the historian (and the reader) unsure of just how much of his story was a lie.

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is a novel by Italian writer Umberto Eco. It was first published in Italian in 2004, and an English language translation by Geoffrey Brock was published in spring 2005...

(2005) is about Giambattista Bodoni, an old bookseller specializing in antiques who emerges from a coma with only some memories to recover his past.

The Prague Cemetery
The Prague Cemetery
The Prague Cemetery is a novel by Italian author Umberto Eco published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller that sold millions of copies .-Plot summary:...

, Eco's 6th novel, was published in 2010. It is the story of a secret agent who "weaves plots, conspiracies, intrigues and attacks, and helps determine the historical and political fate of the European Continent." The book is a narrrative of the rise of Modern-day antisemitism, by way of the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent, antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the twentieth century...

 and other important 19th century events which gave rise to antisemitism.

Novels

  • Il nome della rosa (1980; English translation: The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose
    The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

    , 1983)
  • Il pendolo di Foucault (1988; English translation: Foucault's Pendulum, 1989)
  • L'isola del giorno prima (1994; English translation: The Island of the Day Before
    The Island of the Day Before
    The Island of the Day Before is a 1994 novel by Umberto Eco.It is the story of a 17th century Italian nobleman who is the only survivor of a shipwreck during a fierce storm. He finds himself washed up on an abandoned ship in a harbour through which, he convinces himself, runs the International...

    , 1995)
  • Baudolino (2000; English translation: Baudolino
    Baudolino
    Baudolino is a 2000 novel by Umberto Eco about the adventures of a young man named Baudolino in the known and mythical Christian world of the 12th century.Baudolino was translated into English in 2001 by William Weaver...

    , 2001)
  • La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana (2004; English translation: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana is a novel by Italian writer Umberto Eco. It was first published in Italian in 2004, and an English language translation by Geoffrey Brock was published in spring 2005...

    , 2005)
  • Il cimitero di Praga (2010; English translation: The Prague Cemetery
    The Prague Cemetery
    The Prague Cemetery is a novel by Italian author Umberto Eco published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller that sold millions of copies .-Plot summary:...

    , 2011)

Non-fiction books

  • Il problema estetico in San Tommaso (1956 – English translation: The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, 1988, Revised)
  • "Sviluppo dell'estetica medievale", in Momenti e problemi di storia dell'estetica (1959 – Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, 1985)
  • Opera aperta (1962, rev. 1976 – English translation: The Open Work (1989)
  • Diario Minimo (1963 – English translation: Misreadings, 1993)
  • Apocalittici e integrati (1964 – Partial English translation: Apocalypse Postponed, 1994)
  • Le poetiche di Joyce (1965 – English translations: The Middle Ages of James Joyce, The Aesthetics of Chaosmos, 1989)
  • La Struttura Assente (1968 – The Absent Structure)
  • Il costume di casa (1973 – English translation: Faith in Fakes
    Faith in Fakes
    Il costume di casa was originally an essay written by the Italian semiotician Umberto Eco, about "America's obsession with simulacra and counterfeit reality." It was later incorporated as the centrepiece of the anthology bearing the same name, a collection of articles and essays about Italian...

    : Travels in Hyperreality
    , 1986)
  • Trattato di semiotica generale (1975 – English translation: A Theory of Semiotics, 1976)
  • Il Superuomo di massa (1976)
  • Dalla periferia dell'impero (1977)
  • Lector in fabula (1979)
  • The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts (1979 – English edition containing essays from Opera aperta, Apocalittici e integrati, Forme del contenuto (1971), Il Superuomo di massa, Lector in Fabula).
  • Sette anni di desiderio (1983)
  • Postille al nome della rosa (1983 – English translation: Postscript to The Name of the Rose, 1984)
  • Semiotica e filosofia del linguaggio (1984 – English translation: Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, 1984)
  • De Bibliotheca (1986 – in Italian and French)
  • I limiti dell'interpretazione (1990 – The Limits of Interpretation, 1990)
  • Interpretation and Overinterpretation (1992 – with R. Rorty, J. Culler, C. Brooke-Rose; edited by S. Collini)
  • La ricerca della lingua perfetta nella cultura europea (1993 – English translation: The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe), 1995)
  • Six Walks in the Fictional Woods
    Six Walks in the Fictional Woods
    Six Walks in the Fictional Woods is a book by Umberto Eco. Originally delivered at Harvard for the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1992 and 1993, the six lectures were published in the fall of 1994....

    (1994)
  • Incontro – Encounter – Rencontre (1996 – in Italian, English, French)
  • In cosa crede chi non crede? (with Carlo Maria Martini
    Carlo Maria Martini
    Carlo Maria Martini, SJ is an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was Archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2002, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1983.-Early life and education:...

    ), 1996 – English translation: Belief or Nonbelief?: A Dialogue, 2000)
  • Cinque scritti morali (1997 – English translation: Five Moral Pieces, 2001)
  • Kant e l'ornitorinco (1997 – English translation: Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition
    Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition
    Kant and the Platypus : Essays on Language and Cognition is a book by Umberto Eco which was published in Italian as Kant e l'ornitorinco in 1997...

    , 1999)
  • Serendipities
    Serendipities
    Serendipities: Language and Lunacy is a 1998 collection of essays by Umberto Eco. Dealing with the history of linguistics and Early Modern concepts of a perfect language, the material in...

    : Language and Lunacy
    (1998)
  • How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays (1998 – Partial English translation of Il secondo diario minimo, 1994)
  • Experiences in Translation, University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press
    University of Toronto Press is Canada's leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America. Founded in 1901, UTP has published over 6,500 books, with well over 3,500 of these still in print....

     (2000)
  • Sulla letteratura, (2003 – English translation by Martin McLaughlin
    Martin McLaughlin
    Martin L. McLaughlin is Professor of Italian and Fiat-Serena Professor of Italian Studies in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford where he is a Fellow of Magdalen College...

    : On Literature, 2004)
  • Mouse or Rat?: Translation as negotiation (2003)
  • Storia della bellezza (2004, co-edited with Girolamo de Michele – English translation: History of Beauty/On Beauty, 2004)
  • A passo di gambero. Guerre calde e populismo mediatico (Bompiani, 2006 – English translation: Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism, 2007, Alastair McEwen)
  • Storia della bruttezza (Bompiani, 2007 – English translation: On Ugliness, 2007)
  • Dall'albero al labirinto: studi storici sul segno e l'interpretazione (Bompiani, 2007)
  • La Vertigine della Lista (Rizzoli, 2009) - English translation: The Infinity of Lists
    The Infinity of Lists
    The Infinity of Lists is a book by Umberto Eco on the topic of lists. The title of the original Italian edition was La Vertigine della Lista...

  • Costruire il nemico e altri scritti occasionali (Bompiani, 2011)

Books for children

(Art by Eugenio Carmi)
  • La bomba e il generale (1966, Rev. 1988 – English translation: The Bomb and the General)
  • I tre cosmonauti (1966 – English translation: The Three Astronauts)
  • Gli gnomi di Gnu (1992 – English translation: The Gnomes of Gnu)


External links

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