Born on January 5, 1932 in Alessandria, northern Italy, the son of an accountant studied medieval philosophy and literature at the University of Turin, earning his laurea degree in philosophy in 1954. Following service in the Italian Army, he worked for the Italian public broadcaster RAI, before becoming a senior editor at a Milan publishing house.
Over the next few decades, Eco would go on to write and edit countless scholarly books, essays and columns on mass media and culture, semiotics (the study of signs and symbols), aesthetics and literary criticism. He is famous for his notion of the "open work," which postulates that literary texts compose fields of meaning, rather than unequivocal, linear narratives of thought - lending them more space for diverse interpretation.
All of that work likely informed the labyrinthine murder mystery "The Name of the Rose," which, among other things, analyzes texts and symbols in a medieval religious context. Five novels have followed, including "Foucault's Pendulum" and "The Island of the Day Before." His latest, "The Prague Cemetery," published in 2010, freewheels through everything from conspiracy theories to anti-Semitism.
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ECO, U., Segno, Milan : ISEDI, 1973.In Italian
- ECO, U., The Open Work, trans. Anna Cangogni, Cambridg, MA : Harvard University Press, 1989 .
- ECO, U., A Theory of Semiotics, Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1976  (the complete English translation of Trattato di semiotica generale, Milano: Bompiani, 1975).
- ECO, U., The Role of the Reader, Bloomington and London: Indiana U.P. and Hutchinson, 1981  (includes essays from: Opera aperta, Apocalittici e integrati, Forme del contenuto, Lector in Fabula , Il Superuomo di massa ).
- ECO, U., Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
- ECO, U., The Limits of Interpretation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
- ECO, U., Interpretation and Overinterpretatio, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
- ECO, U., The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe), trans. James Fentress, Oxford : Blackwell Publishing, 1995 .
- ECO, U., Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1995 .
- ECO, U. (1965) , L'Oeuvre ouverte, Paris: Seuil, 1965 .
- ECO, U., La structure absente, Paris: Mercure, 1972 .
- ECO, U., La production des signes, Paris: Livre de Poche, (1976)  (a partial translation into French of Trattato di semiotica generale).
- ECO, U., De Superman au Surhomme, Paris: Grasset, 1993 .
- ECO, U., Lector in fabula, Paris: Grasset, 1985 .
- ECO, U., La Guerre du faux, Paris: Grasset, 1985 .
- ECO, Umberto, Sémiotique et philosophie du langage, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, (1988) .
- ECO, U., Notes sur la sémiotique de la réception, Actes Sémiotiques, Paris, IX, no 81, 1987.
- ECO, U., Le signe, Bruxelles: Labor, 1988 (about 40% of Segno (1973) in French translation).
- ECO, U., Les limites de l'interprétation, Paris: Grasset, 1992 .
- ECO, U., Interprétation et surinterprétation, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1995 .
- ECO, U., La recherche de la langue parfaite dans la culture européenne, Paris: Seuil, 1994 .
- ECO, U., Six promenades dans les bois du roman et ailleurs, Paris: Grasset, 1996 .
Modes of Sign Production
- Textual Cooperation
- The Semiotic Process and the Classification of Sign