Umberto Eco

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Date and place of birth: 1932, Alessandria, Italy

Theme: philosophy, literature

ECC Participation: Honorary Committee

Philosopher, essayist and novelist. Famous for creating a new direction in semiotics, focused on the codes of pop culture. Eco’s semiotics paved the way for new areas of studies of aesthetics. The publication of “The Absent Structure” in 1968 enabled mass culture, including comic books, magazines and billboards to become the subject of philosophical analysis. His theory opened the works of pop culture and revealed a complex system of meanings where once only bland entertainment was seen. In his research, he also examines communications theories and anthropology of 20th century media. Privately, he’s an avid medievalist.

“The present is known to me only through television. The Middle Ages I know first-hand.”

Famous for his novels and essays. His books, “The Name of the Rose” and “Foucault’s Pendulum” couple his knowledge of history and philosophy with the imagination of a supreme novelist. In his works, medieval scholastic philosophies, occult knowledge and mysticism coexist within the framework of detective fiction. Eco himself once said that his purpose in life is to “wander through symbolic forests, inhabited by unicorns and griffins.” Eco’s books quickly gain bestseller status and easily cross the border between high and mass culture. Even the band Iron Maiden based one of their songs, “Sign of the Cross” on “The Name of the Rose”.

Recipient of many international prizes, such as the Prix Medicis Etranger (1982), the Marshall McLuhan Award (1985), the Golden Cross of the Dodecannese (1986), the Crystal Award (1999) and the Austrian State Award for European Literature (2002).

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