Bestselling Novelist and Scholar Umberto Eco is Dead at 84

Posted on February 22, 2016

Umberto Eco author photo

Umberto Eco, author and semiotics scholar has died at the age of 84 at his home in Italy. Eco was best known to fiction readers for his seven bestselling novels and three children's books. His most famous novel is The Name of Rose, a medieval murder mystery that was adapted into a feature film starring Sean Connery. He also wrote more than 20 nonfiction books related to his passion for semiotics (the study of symbols) and history. Other novels include Baudolino, The Island of the Day Before, Foucault's Pendulum, and The Prague Cemetery.

Professor Eco taught at the University of Bologna, which is Europe's oldest university. He studied the use of symbols and how they reflect the cultures that created them. Semiotics studies how signs, symbols, clothing, poster, words and icons reflect and reveal the deepest truths about the cultures that created them.

The Guardian reports that Professor Eco's next book, Pape Satàn Aleppe: Chronicles of a Liquid Society, was scheduled to be released in May, 2016, but the publisher has moved the release date to this weekend due to the author's death. The publisher has not yet set a release date for the English translation of the book, which is a collection of essays written by Eco for the Italian magazine, L’Espresso. The title is from the opening line of Canto VII of Dante's Inferno. The line is one that translators have struggled with. The most modern interpretation is that it is a demonic invocation. Eco believed that the the confusion caused by the line fits right into the confusion of the modern world.

Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt