Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
Conversation with Italian writer Umberto Eco, who received the foreign Médicis prize for his novel The Name of the Rose. The famous semiologist explains why he chose to set his novel in the beginning of the XIVth century, a transitional period where people began to interpret natural signs in a modern way.
Fantastic erudition combined with an extraordinary talent for simplifying things, these were Umberto Eco's (1932) keys to worldwide success. Degreed in philosophy, a scholar specialised in education and medieval aesthetics, a pioneer in semiology research (La Structure Absente in 1968 and Lector in Fabula in 1979), he was also a journalist in his earlier days, for the press and especially for television at the RAI. There, he learned how mass communication worked and was led to get involved with various manifestations of popular culture (Il Superuomo di massa in 1976), and most notably with literary genres that were considered to be of lesser importance, such as detective novels and series.
In 1980, The Name of the Rose, his first novel, was an immediate worldwide success, which was explained by Eco's virtuosity in adapting his knowledge in European medieval thought and his own semiological theories to the narrative structure of the historical detective novel genre. Afterwards, Foucault's Pendulum (1988) followed, along with The Island of the Day Before (1994), Baudolino (2000) and The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (2004). An essay writer, linguist, semiologist, professor in Bologna, Yale and even at the Collège de France, a journalist and novel writer, Eco is also a member of the Pataphysics College, where his tireless quest for meaning inevitably lead him.