Why Umberto Eco was a remarkable figure in the cultural world
The Global Literary Community has suffered a big loss. Umberto Eco, author of the novel The Name of the Rose, passed away Feb. 19. The man had suffered from cancer for two years.
He was born on Jan. 5, 1932 in Alessandria in Northern Italy, where he was raised and attended high school.
After graduating in 1954 at the University of Turin after studying philosophy, he started to devote himself to the study of contemporary semiotic, the survey of cultural criticism on literary and artistic experimentation.
From 1959 to 1975 he was the co-editor of an important Italian publishing house, Bompiani.
In 1961 he began his academic career as a professor in various Italian universities such as Turin, Milan, Florence and Bologna.
Through the years, he taught as a visiting professor at mant different universities like Yale University, Harvard University, University of California-San Diego, Cambridge University, University of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, until 2007 when he stopped teaching.
In 1980, when he became famous worldwide for his novel The Name of the Rose which inspired the famous Jean-Jacques Annaud's movie with Sean Connery, he was already well known in Italy as a scholar and linguist.
Since the late 50s, Eco had indeed started to deal with the influence of the mass media in a mass culture, publishing articles for several newspapers and magazines.
In 1971 he founded Versus, one of the most important international semiotic journals, and in 1994 he became honorary president of the IASS / AIS (International Association for Semiotic Studies).
Besides having significantly contributed to the development of Italian language, in the early 1990s he collaborated with Jacques Le Goff on the work The Search for the Perfect Language in the European Culture.
Because he believed the intellectual work cannot be limited to any specialization, Eco wanted to specialize in all branches of knowledge, or at least as many as possible, and it was precisely what made him unique compared to other scholars of his generation.
The Guardian has defined Eco as “one of the most important names in international literature,” while The New York Times spoke of him as, “an expert in the arcane field of semiotics.”
As a man who has dedicated all his life to the culture and knowledge, in this short video he provides an important advice to the young writers.
The inspiration is just a small part of the intellectual’s work, all the rest is effort and sacrifice.
Cover credit: Doppiozero.com