Archives For Umberto Eco


Umberto Eco Having a Laugh

A Feature Review of 

Numero Zero: A Novel
Umberto Eco

Hardback: HMH Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jerrad Peters
In Numero Zero Umberto Eco describes the debauched practice of news-making, and in so doing the renowned semiotician, prominent thinker and celebrated author of The Name of the Rose, The Prague Cemetery and Foucault’s Pendulum delivers a novel as shallow as the exercise he satirizes.

This is almost certainly intentional, as a writer as vigorous and a philosopher as significant as Eco did not become lazy and deficient overnight.

So what, then, is the 83-year-old’s objective for his seventh major work of fiction? What, assuming Numero Zero speaks to readers through opera aperta, or the open work approach to interpretation (a semiotic device), is Eco trying to say?

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)


The Givenness of Things: Essays

By Marilynne Robinson

Read two sample essays from this collection


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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

See a book here that you’d like to review for us?
Contact us, and we’ll talk about the possibility of a review.

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You

By Jessica N. Turner

Watch the book trailer for this book


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All the religious wars that have caused blood to be shed for centuries arise from passionate feelings and facile counter-positions, such as Us and Them, good and bad, white and black.
– Umberto Eco,
novelist / philosopher
who was born on this day, 1932

The Wake Up Call
Poem of the Day:
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
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Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day:
The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain

By Scott Cairns
Only 99c!!!
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  *** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!
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The Wake Up Call – January 5, 2015


Infinite Forkability

A Feature Review of

From the Tree to the Labyrinth: Historical Studies on the Sign and Interpretation

Umberto Eco

Translated by Anthony Oldcorn
Hardback: Harvard UP, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Review by Michial Farmer


The problem with reading a book written by a man of such superhuman erudition as Umberto Eco is that the reader needs a similarly Herculean level of learning in order to challenge and critique it. The rest of us can read Eco, learn from him, even enjoy the overwhelming nature of the experience—but we can’t argue with him the way good books call us to argue with them. We can only sit at his feet—our guru, our professor, we the devotees, we the students.


From the Tree to the Labyrinth, for example—a book that was published in Italian in 2007 but that has just been heroically translated into English by Harvard Professor of Italian Studies Anthony Oldcorn—discourses for nearly a hundred pages on Aristotle’s difficult logical and scientific treatises, not so much on what they themselves say as on what an even more difficult series of medieval commentators, philosophers, and scribes took them to say. (And that’s only about a sixth of the overall book.) It’s to Eco’s credit (and to Olcorn’s, whose accomplishment is only slightly less impressive than Eco’s) that this journey rarely feels tedious or perilous. He knows this material well, explains it skillfully, and mostly leaves his non-specialist reader feeling illiterate for not being familiar with, say, Scotus Eriugena.

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A Review of

The Prague Cemetery: A Novel.
Umberto Eco

Hardback: Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by David Johnson

A sensitive reader might get the impression while reading The Prague Cemetery that Umberto Eco does not much care what you, think about him as an author or the story he has to tell. In a note at the front of the book, Eco envisions one of two kinds of people who might flip through his pages. The first has no idea that the events described in the book actually happened. This reader, accidentally drawn from the great unwashed masses, “knows nothing about nineteenth-century literature, and might even have taken Dan Brown seriously.” The second reader, on the other hand, understands the historical and contemporary significance of said events. To this reader Eco would perhaps append the adjectives “educated” and “worthy.” I don’t know why Eco felt it necessary to start the reading experience off so combatively, but while this attitude would make him a wearisome dinner guest, it needn’t necessarily stand in the way of a good story.

In addition to being a sometimes novelist, Umberto Eco is a philosopher, literary critic, semiotician, and author of dozens of learned books a wide variety of topics, from medieval history to mass media and culture. He made his name in literary circles with his first novel, The Name of the Rose, a quest for a mythical lost work of Aristotle that is, in fact, a Dan Brown-esque page-turner that does not make you feel dumb inside.[1]

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