Umberto Eco The Philosopher of Signs


 Umberto Eco is best known to the general public for his novels and critical works in which he developed his theory of reception. Who realizes, however, that this aspect of his work is only one part of a general semiology organized around a philosophy of signs?

Better known to the general public for his novels than for his other writings, Umberto Eco (1932-2016) was both a teacher and a scholar, a commentator and a host, a theorist and a novelist. His remarkably extensive output (including some fifty books) and his scholarly contributions cover a wide realm extending from linguistics to philosophy by way of aesthetics, media studies, and literature—including children’s fiction. As a man of erudition preoccupied with questions of transmission and reception, he placed under the sign of philosophy the vast semiotic theory that crisscrosses his oeuvre.

Polymorphous, but Coherent

In the early 1950s, at the University of Turin, Umberto Eco defended a dissertation on the aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas. He worked first for television as an assistant, then for the Bompiani publishing house, which he ran until 1975, and to which he remained loyal, publishing all his books with them down to the last months of his life. The transformation and concentration of the publishing world led him to found, with various friends, a new company, La nave di Teseo, which published his final book, Papè Satan Aleppe. Cronache di una società liquida, several days after…