Amwal Al Ghad English - 2016-02-20 10:06:32
Italian author Umberto Eco, who intrigued, puzzled and delighted readers worldwide with his best-selling historical novel "The Name of the Rose," has died.
Spokeswoman Lori Glazer of Eco's American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told The Associated Press that Eco died Friday at age 84. She could not immediately confirm the cause of death or where he died.
Author of a wide range of books, Eco was fascinated with the obscure and the mundane, and his books were both engaging narratives and philosophical and intellectual exercises. The bearded, heavy-set scholar, critic and novelist took on the esoteric theory of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols in language; on popular culture icons like James Bond; and on the technical languages of the Internet.
"The Name of the Rose" transformed him from academic to international celebrity, especially after the medieval thriller set in a monastery was made into a film starring Sean Connery in 1986. "The Name of the Rose" sold millions of copies, a feat for a narrative filled with partially translated Latin quotes and puzzling musings on the nature of symbols. But Eco talked about his inspiration with characteristic irony: "I began writing ... prodded by a seminal idea: I felt like poisoning a monk."
His second novel, the 1988 "Foucault's Pendulum," a byzantine tale of plotting publishers and secret sects also styled as a thriller, was successful, too —though it was so complicated that an annotated guide accompanied it to help the reader follow the plot.
In 2000, when awarding Eco Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize for communications, the jury praised his works "of universal distribution and profound effect that are already classics in contemporary thought."
Eco was born Jan. 5, 1932 in Alessandria, a town east of Turin; he said the reserved culture there was a source for his "world vision: a skepticism and an aversion to rhetoric." He received a university degree in philosophy from the University of Turin in 1954, beginning his fascination with the Middle Ages and the aesthetics of text. He later defined semiotics as "a philosophy of language." More»