Italian author Umberto Eco, who intrigued, puzzled and delighted readers worldwide with his best-selling historical novel “The Name of the Rose,” passes away. He was 84.
Author of a wide range of books, Mr. Eco was fascinated with the obscure and the mundane, and his books were both engaging narratives and philosophical and intellectual exercises. The bearded, heavy-set scholar, critic and novelist took on the esoteric theory of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols in language; on popular culture icons like James Bond; and on the technical languages of the Internet.
“The Name of the Rose” transformed him from academic to international celebrity, especially after the medieval thriller set in a monastery was made into a film starring Sean Connery in 1986. “The Name of the Rose” sold millions of copies, a feat for a narrative filled with partially translated Latin quotes and puzzling musings on the nature of symbols. But the author talked about his inspiration with characteristic irony- “I began writing … prodded by a seminal idea- I felt like poisoning a monk.”
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