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Umberto Eco (1932–2016)

Author of The Name of the Rose

403+ Works 101,464 Members 1,541 Reviews 593 Favorited
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About the Author

Umberto Eco was born in Alessandria, Italy on January 5, 1932. He received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Turin in 1954. His first book, Il Problema Estetico in San Tommaso, was an extension of his doctoral thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas and was published in 1956. His first novel, show more The Name of the Rose, was published in 1980 and won the Premio Strega and the Premio Anghiar awards in 1981. In 1986, it was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery. His other works include Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, The Prague Cemetery, and Numero Zero. He also wrote children's books and more than 20 nonfiction books including Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. He taught philosophy and then semiotics at the University of Bologna. He also wrote weekly columns on popular culture and politics for L'Espresso. He died from cancer on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose (1980) 19,234 copies
Foucault's Pendulum (1988) 17,213 copies
Baudolino (2000) — Author — 7,694 copies
The Island of the Day Before (1995) 7,026 copies
The Prague Cemetery (2010) 4,414 copies
Travels in Hyperreality (1984) 2,201 copies
History of Beauty (2004) 1,876 copies
On Literature (2002) 1,403 copies
Misreadings (1963) — Author — 1,298 copies
How to Write a Thesis (1977) — Author — 1,275 copies
Numero Zero (2015) 1,194 copies
On Ugliness (2007) 1,125 copies
Postscript to The Name of the Rose (1983) — Author — 820 copies
Five Moral Pieces (1997) 687 copies
The Book of Legendary Lands (2013) 614 copies
Belief or Nonbelief? (1996) 568 copies
A Theory of Semiotics (1976) 568 copies
Apocalypse Postponed (1965) 508 copies
The Open Work (1962) 495 copies
Experiences in Translation (2006) 393 copies
The Limits of Interpretation (1990) 377 copies
Inventing the Enemy: Essays (2011) 369 copies
Die Bibliothek (1981) 198 copies
The Absent Structure (1971) 181 copies
Il fascismo eterno (1995) 177 copies
De la estupidez a la locura (2016) 160 copies
Sugli specchi e altri saggi (1985) 135 copies
La bustina di Minerva (1994) 125 copies
Il segno (1976) 119 copies
De superman au surhomme (1976) 108 copies
How to Spot a Fascist (2020) 94 copies
La definición del arte (1968) 84 copies
Tra menzogna e ironia (1998) 80 copies
The Three Astronauts (1988) 77 copies
The Bomb and the General (1988) 68 copies
Ortacag (2010) 54 copies
Migrazioni e intolleranza (2019) 38 copies
Dalla periferia dell'impero (1991) 30 copies
Sator arepo eccetera (2006) 28 copies
Streichholzbriefe (1990) 28 copies
Talking of Joyce (1998) 26 copies
La Nueva Edad Media (1974) 24 copies
Stelle & stellette (1976) 21 copies
Cult Of Vespa (1996) 20 copies
Tre racconti (2010) 19 copies
The Gnomes of Gnu (1992) 17 copies
Filozofia frywolna (2004) 15 copies
As formas do conteúdo (2010) 10 copies
Mnemotecniche e rebus (2013) 9 copies
The Bond Affair — Editor — 7 copies
Antik Yakindogu (Ciltli) (2018) 7 copies
Carnival! (1984) 7 copies
Neue Streichholzbriefe (1997) 7 copies
Ur-FAscism 6 copies
Antik Yunan (2017) 6 copies
Vocali (1991) 6 copies
Nebbia (2009) 5 copies
Incontro (1996) 5 copies
Reconnaître le faux (2022) 4 copies
Ecoloquio con Umberto Eco (1977) 4 copies
Baudolino : segunda parte (2013) 4 copies
Sign, Symbol, Code (1996) 4 copies
Les trois cosmonautes : Et autres contes (2008) — Author — 3 copies
La metafora nel Medioevo (2004) 3 copies
L'expérience des images (2011) 3 copies
Die historischen Romane (2011) 3 copies
Antik Roma (Ciltli) (2021) 3 copies
Costumi di casa 2 copies
L'antichità 2 copies
Carmi 2 copies
Conceito de texto (1984) 2 copies
Riflessioni sul dolore (2014) 2 copies
Le musée, demain (2015) 2 copies
Cultura y semiotica (2009) 2 copies
Yêu Yêu Saigon (2009) 1 copy
Otok prethodnoga dana (1997) 1 copy
Pilotnumurs 1 copy
Narratologia 1 copy
Narratologia 1 copy
Il complotto 1 copy
Histo ria da beleza (2005) 1 copy
Felsefe Tarihi 5 (2022) 1 copy
2001 1 copy
Cimitirul din Praga (2010) 1 copy
L'antichità. Roma (2012) 1 copy
Encyclomedia 1 copy
Eco Umberto 1 copy
Po esie (2000) 1 copy
Umberto Eco 1 copy
1989 1 copy
L'arte come mestiere. Vol.1 (1969) — Editor — 1 copy
Simbolo (2018) 1 copy
Lo Zen 1 copy
1990 1 copy
Museo, El (2014) 1 copy

Associated Works

Pinocchio (1883) — Introduction, some editions — 7,916 copies
Mythologies (1957) — Foreword, some editions — 4,209 copies
Exercises in Style (1943) — Translator, some editions — 2,508 copies
Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (1938) — Introduction, some editions — 1,159 copies
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 1,102 copies
The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2005) — Introduction, some editions — 697 copies
Libraries (2005) — Introduction — 448 copies
The Notebook (2009) — Preface, some editions — 254 copies
Bad Trips (1991) — Contributor — 231 copies
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed (2004) — Foreword — 218 copies
Corto Maltese Vol. 06: The Ethiopian (1978) — Foreword, some editions — 215 copies
The Name of the Rose [1986 film] (1986) — Original book — 214 copies
Sylvie (1853) — Translator, some editions — 213 copies
Criticism: Major Statements (1964) — Contributor — 211 copies
The Future of the Book (1996) — Afterword — 182 copies
Constantinople (1877) — Afterword — 116 copies
Bread of Dreams: Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Europe (1980) — Introduction, some editions — 107 copies
Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (1656) — Contributor — 71 copies
Il mio Dante (2008) — Foreword — 56 copies
Vendere l'anima. Il mestiere del libraio (2006) — Foreword, some editions — 16 copies
Charles M. Schulz: 40 Years Life and Art (1990) — Introduction, some editions — 12 copies
Paras elokuvakirja (1995) — Contributor — 5 copies
Den kriminelle novelle (1999) — Author, some editions — 5 copies
The Notebook (Volume 2) (2010) — Preface — 2 copies
Linus. Febbraio 2023 (Linus 2023 Vol. 2) (2023) — Author — 1 copy


20th century (701) aesthetics (287) art (662) books about books (295) classic (296) classics (322) conspiracy (411) eco (578) essay (393) essays (1,652) fantasy (474) fiction (9,687) historical (662) historical fiction (2,434) historical novel (402) history (1,303) Italian (1,763) Italian literature (2,292) Italy (1,940) Knights Templar (295) language (567) linguistics (456) literary criticism (625) literature (2,152) medieval (847) Middle Ages (755) mystery (1,953) non-fiction (1,762) novel (1,927) own (355) philosophy (1,676) read (794) religion (844) Roman (707) semiotics (893) to-read (3,786) translated (306) translation (673) Umberto Eco (627) unread (690)

Common Knowledge

Date of death
Country (for map)
Alessandria, Italy
Place of death
Milan, Italy
Cause of death
pancreatic cancer
Places of residence
Rimini, Italy
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Urbino, Italy
University of Turin (PhD | 1954 | Philosophy and Literature)
university professor
Ramge, Renata (wife)
Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici
University of Bologna
Gruppo '63
Awards and honors
Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2001)
Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement (2005)
Premio Príncipe de Asturias (2000)
Society of Literature
Premio Strega (1981)
Prix Medicis Etranger (1982) (show all 9)
Italian Grand Cross of Merit (Knight)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (1999)
Accademia dei Lincei (2010)
Short biography
Umberto Eco was born in the city of Alessandria in the Italian region of Piedmont, right in the middle of the Genova, Milan, Turin triangle. Before he was drafted to fight in 3 wars, his father, Giulio Eco, was an accountant. Young Umberto and his mother, Giovanna, moved to a small village in the Piedmontese mountainside during the Second World War. 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 came from a family of thirteen children, and was very keen of Umberto to read Law, but instead he entered the University of Turin in order to take up medieval philosophy and literature. Umberto's thesis was on the topic of Thomas Aquinas and this earned him a BA in philosophy in 1954. In that period, Eco abandoned the Roman Catholic Church after a crisis of faith. Following this, Eco worked as a cultural editor for RAI, Radiotelevisione Italiana, the state broadcasting station, he also became a lecturer at the University of Turin (1956–64). A group of avant-garde 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 di San Tommaso, which was an extension of his doctoral thesis. This also marked the beginning of his lecturing career at his alma mater. In September 1962, he married Renate Ramge, a German art teacher with whom he has a son and a daughter. He divides his time between an apartment in Milan and a vacation house near Rimini. He has a 30,000 volume library in the former and a 20,000 volume library in the latter.



Umberto Eco / The Name of the Rose in Someone explain it to me... (Friday 7:47pm)
Umberto Eco in Legacy Libraries (November 2021)
test in Christopher's LT Testing Group (October 2020)
May Group Read - The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) in 75 Books Challenge for 2016 (September 2016)
Umberto Eco dead at 84 in Book talk (February 2016)
**Umberto Eco in 2014 Category Challenge (June 2014)
Bibliographie in Zwischen �t�p� und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die gl�b�l�s�rt� Welt (June 2012)
[The Name of the Rose] in Historical Mysteries (September 2006)


Dated observations of cultural change during the early 1970s.
sfj2 | 13 other reviews | Nov 28, 2023 |
A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Name of the Rose reminds me of The Da Vinci Code in that it's an easy read despite qualifying for this category. There is only one riddle, rather than the series present in Dan Brown's book, but this one puzzle plays a central role in unraveling the mystery at the center of the story.

Umberto Eco's novel revolves around the visit of Brother William, a former Inquisitor, and his novice, Adso, to an unnamed monastery in northern Italy. Brother William is attending a meeting between representatives of Pope John XXII and the Franciscans, who are debating how both clergy and laymen should live in consideration of Christ's poverty. On the eve of their arrival, a monk is found dead just outside the walls of the monastery and Brother William is asked to investigate by the Abbot.

Over the seven days Brother William and Adso spend at the monastery, several additional murders occur, all revolving around a mysterious book from the monastery’s impressive library whose floorplan is the riddle which must be solved before the conspiracy behind the murders can be understood. Much like Aga Christy, Eco provides a wealth of suspicious characters who could all be guilty of one or more of the ongoing murders.

Having a grounding in Christian dogma helps but is not necessary to understand the internecine squabbles between the various factions of monks with their competing beliefs. However, suspending your expectations regarding the behavior of 14th century monks is a prerequisite for enjoying this book, as you will encounter a boisterous and occasionally antagonistic group of men engaging in both homo- and heterosexual acts and displaying all the petty jealousies of modern-day politicians.

My only quibble with the book is Eco's habit of writing long lists of what I found to be boring details adding nothing to the narrative. The first of these is Adso's encounter with the apocalyptic sculpture of the church, which seems more a vision he suffers than merely observation. Adso's dream while chanting at a funeral is another; its inclusion seemed unnecessary despite its connection to historical facts. I wound up skimming these sections without losing the thread of the plot.

My copy of the novel had a long appendix with Eco's commentary on his writing process which I found interesting from a theoretical perspective; however, the novel stands on its own without need for explanation.

About halfway through the book I looked up the movie and discovered Sean Connery stars in it. I immediately knew he plays Brother William and struggled not to hear his voice when subsequently reading the monk's dialogue. Afterwards, I tried to watch the movie, but it had a Monty Pythonish aspect and I gave up after the third murder. Stick to the book.
… (more)
skavlanj | 302 other reviews | Nov 26, 2023 |
Couldn't relate to the protagonist and not knowledgeable enough about the history of Italy to follow the twists and turns of the plot
ritaer | 160 other reviews | Nov 26, 2023 |
To frontload with the negatives, I think through most of the book my big concerns were

1) William is too obviously good (and also obviously based on Sherlock Holmes, which is funny but not bad). He regularly engages in long philosophical dialogues with other monks where he's clearly pretty much in the right, being more learned, more perceptive, and more aligned with modern ways of thinking. It's sometimes a little frustrating reading the other monks and religious figures being obviously evil in contrast, even if certain bits are based on real events and ideology.
2) There's a lot of just listing stuff - sometimes descriptive, sometimes just names of things. I'm bad with descriptions anyway but even aside from that it was unclear what the point was. It's just lists of signs.
3) Sort of following on from 2, there's lots of stuff on not only 14th century theological debates but also just general medieval fact dropping and I was never sure if this was actually making a meaningful point... this isn't a criticism exactly, because reading about history is very cool and interesting! But I guess especially with the untranslated Latin alongside it, it sometimes feels like, deliberately intended to seem "clever" in a way that suggests deeper commentary but isn't necessarily saying much deeper. This is maybe an unfair one, it's hard to explain properly.

But it was still enjoyable and compelling all the way to the end! And then the end clarified things and made a point of 2 and 3 and at least complicated 1.

Like, obviously the destruction of all the knowledge contained in the abbey is occasioned by William's desperate attempts to preserve a single part destroyed manuscript, even though he had correctly surmised what it said already! One of the things where William suggests stuff that *is* eyebrow raising is about "the simple" - the average uneducated person. and Jorge has the same objection to the lost book of Aristotle on comedy - the educated admitting the good of comedy is handing a tool to "the simple". Both have a complicated relationship with knowledge and dealing with how the uneducated experience it Ultimately it ends on a note that questions the value of signs and knowledge in understanding the world, which is self reflective in that it's clearly a book in love with knowledge and books in and of themselves. I'm not explaining it very well but yeah i felt the ending really pulled everything together well in a way that stuck with me and turned a good book into one that was great
… (more)
tombomp | 133 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |


Europe (1)
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Marcello Truzzi Contributor
Wulf Rehder Contributor
Giampaolo Proni Contributor
Merril B. Hintikka Contributor
Nancy Harrowitz Contributor
Carlo Ginzburg Contributor
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B. Kroebers Commentary
William Weaver Translator
Yond Boeke Translator
Patty Krone Translator
Burkhart Kroeber Translator
Ricardo Pochtar Translator
Eva Alexanderson Translator
Henny Vlot Translator
Richard Dixon Translator
Pietha de Voogd Translator
Carsten Middelthon Translator, Overs.
Sean Barrett Narrator
Jenny Tuin Translator
Tuula Saarikoski Translator
Zdenìk Frýbort Translator
Alastair McEwen Translator
Sanjulian Cover artist
Neville Jason Narrator
Ottmar Frick Cover designer
Morana Čale Translator
David Lodge Introduction
Aira Buffa Translator
Antoni Vicens Translator
Helinä Kangas Translator
Romanzo Bompiani Translator
Pietha de Voogd Translator
Cerstin Urban Translator
Stephen Parker Cover artist
Maarten Franssen Translator
Helinä Kangas Translator
Geoffrey Brock Translator
Rob Gerritsen Translator
Martin Pfeiffer Translator, Übersetzer
Astrid Nordang Translator
Eric Baker Cover designer
Théo Buckinx Translator
Tinke Davids Translator
Helmut Schade Cover designer
Thomas Harder Translator
Tullio Pericoli Cover artist
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Pia Lundgren Translator
Peter Cox Photographer
René Daniëls Cover artist
Gerard Hadders Cover designer
Ronald Jonkers Translator
Barbara Schaden Übersetzer
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Jules Chevrier Illustrator
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