E is for Eco


Umberto Eco was born in 1932 in Alessandria in Northern Italy. He is the first of the writers I’ve looked into who is actually still alive! Lol. Urged by his father to become a Lawyer, Umberto instead chose to go to University to study medieval philosophy and literature and subsequently became a University Professor. Now, he divides his time between studying semiotics, writing essays, philosophy, literary criticism and writing fiction.

He has written books for children, dozens of non fiction books and 6 novels. But his most famous work was his first fictional novel “In The Name Of The Rose” which was published when he was 48 years old. A historical murder mystery set in a monastery it encapsulates everything that Eco had studied and taught about in the previous years and has sold approximately 50 million copies.

The intricate plots of his fiction are full of references to literature and history. He sites Jorge Luis Borges and James Joyce as his influences. He currently lives in Italy, dividing his time between two homes. In one he has a library of 30,000 books and in the other, 20,000 (and I thought I was bad!!!!).

My Favourite Eco Quotes:

“The real hero is always the hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”

“It is a myth of publishers that people want to read easy things.”

“Every time I write a novel I am convinced for at least 2 years that it is the last one, because a novel is like a child. It takes 2 years after its birth. You have to take care of it. It starts walking and then speaking.”

“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.”

“Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.”

Check out Umberto Eco’s Rules Of Writing and this rather wonderful interview about his most recent novel.

Ive never read any of Eco’s work (although The Hubster has) and I don’t tend to read books that have an intricate plot structure. So does that mean I choose books that are easy to read? I probably do you know *blush*

What do you think? Do readers want to read easy things? Do you?

30 thoughts on “E is for Eco

  1. I don’t know. I htink people read what speaks to them. And I think that can change over time (as a teenager I only read fantasy – now I don’t touch it), and change according to mood. I love Geraldine Brooks have read all her novels except March and when it came time for bookclub to do March I thought I’d be really excited, but I didn’t even finish it. At the time there was a lot going on in my life and I just couldn’t deal with it. I don’t know if it’s got anything to do with easy or hard. As has been said by smarter people than me “books find us, we don’t find them”.


  2. Name of the Rose is one of my favourite books and films, Sean Connery is brilliant!!!!! Love the quotes, especially the one that twists the line from Apocalypse Now — “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”. Of course, we like easy things if they are also entertaining and interesting and we can do harder things (or things that appear to be harder) if they are entertaining and interesting..


    • Thanks Bridget, I’m not so sure though. I tend to avoid things that have got a really intricate plot, full stop. Take the Da Vinci code….there is no way I was EVER going to read that! Lol….perhaps I’m just looking for simple entertainment lol 😉



  3. Some useful advice in his list – but I felt my hackles rising at his tone – or maybe it just didn’t come over well in translation? Bit pompous? I haven’t read any of his work but I’m sure it’s very worthy! I’ll go for an ‘easy’ read if I want to relax and be entertained – which is the point of reading a book, really, I guess! Great post, Vikki.


  4. I haven’t read any Eco, but I’ve heard of him. He gives hope to those of us over *a certain age* that his first novel was published when he was 48! 🙂 Like Gwen, I enjoy a good story–and that can be one that’s imaginative and well-written, or that makes me think, or that has a cool premise, or has an intricate plot.


  5. I love the comment about it taking 2 years after a books birth when it starts walking and then speaking 😀 I must admit, I like a read that is not too complex. It’s actually harder to write a ‘simple’ story that everyone understands than a complex one where people start scratching their heads 😉


  6. Vikki, do yourself a good deed and read him. I recommended The Name of the Rose for our book club this year and was thrilled that I was able to introduce this magnificent writer to my friends. The symbolisms, the dual meanings and that it’s a historical and a mystery.


  7. I read everything, kid-lit, classics, SF/F (of course), non-fiction (everything from religion to academic stuff), and pretty much all points between. I find that I do enjoy the complex stuff. Case in point: I’m currently reading Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, and it’s a brain stormer 🙂 About a living city that seeds its maps on people (yes, they spontaneously discover they have tattoos of maps on their bodies) as a strange form of STD. What can I say, I go for the quirk. I’ve also enjoyed Harry Potter and Hunger Games, was surprised at my fondness for Austen, Dickens, and Thackary, and have even been known to consume a ripe bodice-ripper of an afternoon. My faves tend to make me think, though. Only have read Eco’s literary criticism, but Name of the Rose is on my to-read list (sigh–it’s growing faster than I can read through it!).
    Have a lovely weekend!


    • Thanks Melanie, only just found this comment, so apologies 😦

      Wow, my head would be spinning with all that, and i think i read unusual stuff lol

      Yeah, i have the same problem….i’ll be dead before i get through the books i own, let alone the wish list lol



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