Saturday, February 20, 2016


Umberto Eco (1932-2016)


Italian author Umberto Eco dies aged 84

The literary critic, author and essayist, who was perhaps best known for his 1980 work The Name of the Rose, was one of the world’s most revered literary names.
The author, who had been suffering from cancer, passed away at 9.30pm (8.30pm GMT) on Friday, La Repubblica said on its website.
He was the 1992-3 Norton professor at Harvard and taught semiotics at Bologna University and once suggested that writing novels was a mere part-time occupation, saying: “I am a philosopher; I write novels only on the weekends.”
The Name of the Rose was Eco’s first novel but he had been publishing works for more than 20 years beforehand.

As a semiotician, Mr. Eco sought to interpret cultures through their signs and symbols – words, religious icons, banners, clothing, musical scores, even cartoons – and published more than 20 nonfiction books on these subjects while teaching at the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university.

But rather than segregate his academic life from his popular fiction, Mr. Eco infused his half-dozen novels with many of his scholarly preoccupations.

In bridging these two worlds, he was never more successful than in “The Name of the Rose,” his first novel, first published in Europe in 1980. It sold more than 10 million copies in about 30 languages. (A 1986 Hollywood adaptation directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starring Sean Connery got only a lukewarm reception.)
His subsequent novels – with protagonists like a clairvoyant Crusader in the Middle Ages, a shipwrecked adventurer in the 1600s, and a nineteenth-century physicist – also demanded that readers absorb heavy doses of semiotic ruminations along with compelling fictional tales.

In a 1995 interview with Vogue, Mr. Eco acknowledged that he wasn’t an easy read. “People always ask me, ‘How is it that your novels, which are so difficult, have a certain success?’” he said. “I am offended by the question. It’s as if they asked a woman, ‘How can it be that men are interested in you?’”

(The Guardian, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2016)

2 comments:

joseph said...

Honte sur moi, je ne suis jamais encore parvenu à finir un de ses livres, et si J J Annaud n'avait pas réalisé le film, je me demande si j'aurais même connu son existence! Mais comme il a été via ce film l'objet de beaucoup de discussions animées auprès de mes collègues avec lesquels je ne partageais pas toujours la vision du Moyen Age, je lui serai toujours reconnaissant d'avoir commis autant d'oeuvres, et promis, je vais me remettre à la lecture ...pour lui rendre l'hommage posthume!

another country said...

Il y a dans le film une scène en particulier qui m'a toujours émoustillé. Les amateurs sauront laquelle...

J'ai bien aimé "Le Nom de la Rose", mais j'ai surtout apprécié Le pendule de Foucault, dans lequel on s'engouffre comme en un labyrinthe. Il m'est parfois arrivé de perdre le fil de l'intrigue et du récit, je le confesse, mais je l'ai lu avec beaucoup de plaisir (et dans des conditions paradisiaques).

Son roman "L'île du jour d'avant" m'est tombé des mains... J'aimais beaucoup l'homme -- tel qu'il apparaissait dans les médias, notamment à la télé.

Mauvaise journée pour les écrivains...