I've always enjoyed a spot of creative writing and have enjoyed the way my attempts have developed over the years. Four or five years back I then read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum and was amazed by it - the story, the complexity, the erudition - that I thought I may as well just set the pen aside and not bother. Seeking further books in a similar vein I happened across The Da Vinci Code which then restored my faith in my own writing. Tossing that trash aside, I went back to Eco, this time The Name Of The Rose and was further excited by this book.
From there it was on to The Island Of The Day Before and Baudolino, then his essays in How To Travel With A Salmon and Travels In Hyper-reality. When The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana came out I can remember abandoning Cervantes' Don Quixote in favour of it (I was two hundred pages in) and spent lunch hours at work reading it outside in the sunshine. I can't remember why I ended up abandoning ...Queen Loana but it's still there waiting to be picked up again.
So, a brief bio, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Although there are volumes of essays and criticism by Eco, I'll leave them to another day to add to this bibliography below, and will list the novels for now.
Umberto Eco (born January 5, 1932) is an Italian medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, literary critic and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose (Il nome della rosa, 1980), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. Recently his 1988 novel Foucault's Pendulum has been described as a "thinking person's Da Vinci Code," and was re-issued by Harcourt in March 2007.
Eco was born in the city of Alessandria in the region of Piedmont. His father, Giulio, was an accountant before the government called upon him to serve in three wars. During World War II, Umberto and his mother, Giovanna, moved to a small village in the Piedmontese mountainside. Eco received a Salesian education, and he has made references to the order and its founder in his works and interviews.
His family name is supposedly an acronym of ex caelis oblatus (Latin: a gift from the heavens), which was given to his grandfather (a foundling) by a city official - a background reflected in the character of Diotallevi, in Foucault's Pendulum.
His father was the son of a family with thirteen children, and urged Umberto to become a lawyer, but he entered the University of Turin in order to take up medieval philosophy and literature, writing his thesis on Thomas Aquinas and earning his BA in philosophy in 1954. During this time, Eco left the Roman Catholic Church after a crisis of faith.
After this, Eco worked as a cultural editor for the state broadcasting station Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and also lectured at the University of Turin (1956?64). A group of avant-garde artists?painters, musicians, writers?whom he had befriended at RAI (Gruppo 63) became an important and influential component in Eco's future writing career. This was especially true after the publication of his first book in 1956, Il problema estetico di San Tommaso, which was an extension of his doctoral thesis. This also marked the beginning of his lecturing career at his alma mater.
In September 1962, he married Renate Ramge, a German art teacher with whom he has a son and a daughter. He divides his time between an apartment in Milan and a vacation house near Rimini. He has a 30,000 volume library in the former and a 20,000 volume library in the latter.
- Il nome della rosa (1980) [Eng: The Name of the Rose)
- Il pendolo di Foucault (1988) [Eng: Foucault's Pendulum]
- L'isola del giorno prima (1994) [Eng: The Island of the Day Before)
- Baudolino (2000) [Eng: Baudolino)
- La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana (2004) [Eng: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana)