Umberto Eco is a world renowned novelist, medievalist, philosopher, semiotician and literary critic.
Currently, Umberto Eco is President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna, and an Honorary Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Eco has honorary degrees from over 35 universities worldwide.
Eco's work in literary theory has changed focus over time. Initially, he was one of the pioneers of reader response theory. In Opera Aperta, Eco argued that literary texts are fields of meaning, rather than strings of meaning, that they are understood as open, internally dynamic and psychologically engaged, fields. Eco emphasizes the fact that words do not have meanings that are simply lexical, but rather operate in the context of utterance, drawing out the implications for literature from this truth. Eco's work illustrates the post-modernist literary theory concept of hypertextuality, or the inter-connectedness of all literary works and their interpretation.
Umberto Eco is still best known for his novel The Name of the Rose (Il nome della rosa
, 1980). The book is an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. Eco has written altogether 5 novels, most famous ones include Foucault's Pendulum
(1988) and Baudolino
(2000). Among his important theoretical books are A Theory of Semiotics
(1976), The Role of the Reader
(1979), and The Limits of Interpretation
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