Umberto Eco, 1932-2016


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He was definitely talented. I heard him speak once, at my university. I have to say, with the thick accent and the erudite subject matter, I was completely lost. He might just as well have been speaking Klingon. I could hardly understand a word.


I remember reading The Name of the Rose when I had to for a class in college and hating it.

Later I read it on my own and Umberto Eco quickly became one of my favourite authors.

Besides the ones named in the article, I really liked The Island of the Day Before as well.


He was kind of a giant in my adolescence and I’m sad…

Lacking philosophical nous he was not perhaps as envigourating a presence as I would have wanted but I did dig those books. He was big time, and really did cross into popular discourse. I think that matters.


Foucault’s Pendulum was one of my favorites. The layers of conspiracy on top of conspiracy, woven together in a very intellectually playful manner. It was a dense read, but loads of fun. So passes another great.


The Island of the Day Before is one of my favorite books. I wish I knew enough history to really get The Prague Cemetery, because it seemed like a really genius re-writing of history and conspiracy. I’m also a fan of his nonfiction work. Travels in Hyperreality made a big impression on me. The critique of Disney World (or Land, I can’t keep them straight) was fantastic, though it might not go over well here.

I’m sad to see him go, but he’s left behind many treasures.


Well, I guess it’s time to start reading him. I’ve never read any of the fiction, but I’ve read his essay collection Apocalypse Postponed, which I enjoyed very much.


Eco’s rejection letter for Joyce is great:


#G-d fucking dammit!


So January was performance artists (musicians, actors), and now February is writers. I don’t want to know what March will bring.


The only problem with Foucault’s Pendulum is that it will ruin you for other fun conspiracy books. They all pale in comparison.


I made the arrogant statement one time, when asked what the book was about: “Picture The Da Vinci Code but smart, and with meaning.”


Well, fuck.
I love his work. I was looking forward to his latest, Numero Zero, which I have read good things about. I don’t take authors for granted, but I live in hope that new books by them will forever be available. Until they aren’t anymore. Dammit.

I re-read Foucault’s Pendulum every few years, starting when I first read it in college and it blew me away. It has such smart things to say about conspiracy theories - and religion, while being hugely entertaining.

This is true - you can’t really look at them the same way after Foucault’s Pendulum. It so expertly takes the piss out of conspiracies (while building such a magnificent one itself).

I’ve always thought of The Da Vinci Code as an attempt to do a dumbed-down, Hollywood version of Foucault’s Pendulum, but also with a lobotomy.




Shit. The world was more interesting yesterday.


That’s what annoys me the most about Dan Brown. The literary conspiracies of Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, John Crowley’s Aegypt and Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 will most likely never be filmed because any screenplays of them will be seen as Dan Brown ripoffs rather than the other way around.


Read The Name of the Rose and loved it. Read Foucault’s Pendulum and thought “What an exhibitionist! This guy’s just showing off. Look at everything I know!”

Never read anything else. But my email signature, to this day, comes from The Name of the Rose.


The Name of the Rose was great, but dense. Foucault’s Pendulum was like a thrilling roller coaster with intelligence… awesome.


“And acquiring the rights from all these different authors will mean big headaches, unless the editor takes care of that himself.”

I knew copyright lasted a long time, but damn!

Now that I think about it, wouldn’t the actual Ten Commandments still be copyrighted under current US law? Life plus something for an immortal author? It’s all so confusing.