Umberto Eco 1932–
Italian scholar, editor, and novelist.
Known primarily among scholars for his works in the field of semiotics and as a medievalist, Eco gained wider recognition with the publication of his first novel, Il nome della rosa (1980; The Name of the Rose). Set in a Benedictine abbey in Northern Italy in 1327, this work is an intricately plotted "semiotic" murder mystery that can be read on many levels. It is at once a gothic thriller, a novel of ideas, and an elaborate recreation of medieval life and political and religious thought. Eco is especially acclaimed by critics for his ability to maintain with equal effectiveness the different levels of meaning of The Name of the Rose. Through the creation of his ingenious plot and the portrayal of his character's spiritual and intellectual conflict, he is able to fully engage the reader's interest in his tale. The novel is unanimously praised as a beautifully constructed work of both scholarship and the imagination.
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)