Umberto Eco (5 January 1932 – 19 February 2016) was one of the finest novelists of the 20th century, as well as a renowned university professor, philosopher, semanticist, and literary critic.
The Name of the Rose (Il nome della rosa) is the masterpiece that brought him worldwide fame. The story was brought to screens in 1986, starring Sean Connery. I remember my grandmother giving me this book, and how different and complex it felt compared to everything else that I had read as a child. Umberto Eco’s blend of mystery, medieval ways, religion and semiotics blew my mind. Foucault’s Pendulum and The Prague Cemetery must also be mentioned here, as the last one took its sweet time at the top of the bestseller charts in Italy back in 2010.
Eco was passionate about reading ever since he was a kid; he used to devour everything from classic novels to comics. In his apartment in Milan he had a library of 30,000 books, with another of 20,000 in his vacation home.
Eco became one of academia’s foremost thinkers; he inspired and delighted people with his brilliant way of writing. Here are 25 Umberto Eco quotes to help you write your own story.
To survive, you must tell stories.
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.
I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction.
Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.
Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.
Love is wiser than wisdom.
Daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh; the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time.
What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream?
Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.
Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another.
When you are on the dance floor, there is nothing to do but dance.
Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.
Monsters exist because they are part of the divine plan, and in the horrible features of those same monsters the power of the creator is revealed.
Each of us is sometimes a cretin, a fool, a moron, or a lunatic. A normal person is just a reasonable mix of these components, these four ideal types.
How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man!
I lacked the courage to investigate the weaknesses of the wicked, because I discovered they are the same as the weaknesses of the saintly.
Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.
You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day.
What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible.
A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams.
For the enemy to be recognized and feared, he has to be in your home or on your doorstep.
The person who doesn’t read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. Reading is immortality backwards.
But what use is the unicorn to you if your intellect doesn’t believe in it?