Umberto Eco

Franklin Library Umberto Eco books

Foucault's Pendulum - signed first edition - 1989


Writer Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco, born on January 5, 1932, in Alessandria, Italy, was a prolific Italian novelist, semiotician, philosopher, and literary critic. Renowned for his intellectual versatility, Eco left an indelible mark on the literary world with his erudite works that seamlessly blended history, philosophy, and fiction. Eco's academic journey began at the University of Turin, where he studied medieval philosophy and literature. He later earned a doctorate with a thesis on the aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas. His scholarly interests extended to semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, and he became a leading figure in the field.

In the 1960s, Umberto Eco gained international recognition with the publication of his influential work, The Open Work (1962), which explored the concept of open-endedness in art and literature. His academic contributions continued with seminal works like A Theory of Semiotics (1976) and The Role of the Reader (1979), solidifying his reputation as a leading semiotician. Eco's literary fame reached new heights with the publication of his debut novel, The Name of the Rose (1980). This historical mystery, set in a medieval monastery, captivated readers worldwide with its intricate plot, intellectual depth, and exploration of religious and philosophical themes. The novel was adapted into a successful film in 1986, starring Sean Connery. Following the success of The Name of the Rose, Eco continued to produce novels that combined elements of historical fiction, mystery, and intellectual inquiry. Notable works include Foucault's Pendulum (1988), The Island of the Day Before (1994), and Baudolino (2000).

Apart from his literary pursuits, Umberto Eco held prominent academic positions, including teaching at the University of Bologna, where he established the first Italian university program in semiotics. He was a sought-after lecturer and speaker, known for his ability to engage diverse audiences with his vast knowledge and wit. Umberto Eco's impact extended beyond academia and literature. He was a public intellectual who contributed to discussions on culture, media, and contemporary issues. Eco passed away on February 19, 2016, but his legacy endures through his scholarly works and the rich tapestry of fiction he wove, which continues to captivate readers with its intellectual depth and storytelling prowess.


Foucault's Pendulum

A literary prank leads to deadly danger in this “endlessly diverting” intellectual thriller by the author of The Name of the Rose.
Bored with their work, three Milanese book editors cook up an elaborate hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with occult groups across the centuries. Becoming obsessed with their own creation, they produce a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled, a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum.
But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real. When occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their quest to gain control of the earth. Orchestrating these and other diverse characters into his multilayered semiotic adventure, Umberto Eco has created a superb cerebral entertainment.

Three clever editors (who have spent altogether too much time reviewing crackpot manuscripts on the occult by fanatics and dilettantes) decide to have a little fun. They are inspired by an extraordinary fable they heard years before from a suspiciously natty colonel, who claimed to know of a mystic source of power greater than atomic energy.

On a lark, the editors begin randomly feeding esoteric bits of knowledge into an incredible computer capable of inventing connections between all their entries. What they believe they are creating is a long, lazy game - until the game starts taking over...

Here is an incredible journey of thought and history, memory and fantasy, a tour de force as enthralling as anything Umberto Eco or indeed anyone has ever devised.

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