Remembering Umberto Eco: one of the greatest Italian novelists

His masterpiece “Il nome della Rosa” has been translated in 47 languages.

22-08-201706:41by
Italian writer Umberto Eco
Italian writer Umberto Eco (GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Umberto Eco is the well-known university professor from Alessandria who hit the records – not only in Italy but also abroad – with his novel “Il nome della Rosa” (The name of the Rose). This publication is dated 1980 and it was translated in 47 languages.

Professor Eco was born in 1932 from a middle class family. His wit was remarkable since his young age, when he won the first literary prize followed by a number of other awards, culminated in 39 degrees honoris causa. After graduating when he was 22 years old, Umberto Eco was employed by RAI (the national Italian broadcasting corporation) where he had the chance to learn more about the mass media and the VIPs within this world. On this subject, Eco’s essay on Mike Bongiorno “Mike Bongiono’s phenomenology” became extremely popular.

Eco’s academic career starts officially in 1959 when he begins teaching in Milan and then moves to the Faculty of Architecture of Milan Politecnico. In the same year, Umberto Eco becomes co-director of the publishing house Bompiani. Together with other well-known intellectuals of his time (Edoardo Sanguineti, Nanni Balestrini and Giorgio Manganelli), Eco founded the vanguard literary movement “Gruppo 63”, making the difference in his society.

The move to Bologna happens in 1975, when he becomes ordinary professor of a very interesting subject: semiotics. The latter studies signs, their production, transmission and interpretation. But Eco’s international fame is undoubtedly marked by his novel “The name of the Rose”. Set in the Middle Age, the novel has some thriller elements and the protagonists remind of Sherlock Holmes and his entourage.

In his second novel, “Foucault’s Pendulum”, Eco anticipates a lot of themes later characterizing Dan Brown’s novels and their success. Eco sparked the interest of his audience focusing on conspiracy, secret societies and esoteric elements. “Baudolino” (2000) “Prague Cementery” (2010) and “Number Zero” (2015) are his last works before Eco’s death in 2016.

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