Eco, Umberto əmbĕr´tō ĕcō [key], 1932–, Italian novelist, essayist, and scholar. His first novel, the best-selling Il nome della rosa (1980 tr. The Name of the Rose, 1983), is a medieval mystery. A pastiche of detective fiction, medieval philosophy, and moral reflection, it encapsulates his semiotic theory, which describes how signs are produced and interpreted in the world. The novel presents clues for the reader to decode, but as the reader grapples with the novel's deeper meanings, the mystery becomes secondary. Eco's other novels include Il pendolo di Foucault (1988 tr. Foucault's Pendulum, 1989), L'isola del giorno prima (1994 tr. The Island of the Day Before, 1995), Baudolino (2000 tr. 2002), Il cimitero di Praga (2010 tr. The Prague Cemetery, 2011), and Numero Zero (2015 tr. 2015). Among his important theoretical books are Trattato di semiotica generale (1975 tr. A Theory of Semiotics, 1976), The Role of the Reader (selected essays, tr. 1979), and I limiti dell'interpretazione (1990 tr. The Limits of Interpretation, 1990).
See studies by T. Coletti (1988) and M. T. Inge, ed. (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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