Umberto Eco OMRI (January 5, 1932 – February 19, 2016) was an Italian novelist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher, and semiotician. He is best known for his groundbreaking 1980 historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He later wrote other novels, including Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault's Pendulum) and L'isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before). His novel Il cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery), released in 2010, was a best-seller. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A secret is powerful when it is empty.
Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.
After all, the cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopaedia.
All the religious wars that have caused blood to be shed for centuries arise from passionate feelings and facile counter-positions, such as Us and Them, good and bad, white and black.
Beauty is boring because it is predictable.
Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.
Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.
Each of us is sometimes a cretin, a fool, a moron, or a lunatic. A normal person is just a reasonable mix of these components, these four ideal types.
Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.
Followers of the occult believe in only what they already know, and in those things that confirm what they have already learned.
History is rich with adventurous men, long on charisma, with a highly developed instinct for their own interests, who have pursued personal power- bypassing parliaments and constitutions, distributing favours to their minions, and conflating their own desires with the interests of the community.
How clear everything becomes when you look from the darkness of a dungeon.
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.
I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.
I don't even have an e-mail address. I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.
I don't miss my youth. I'm glad I had one, but I wouldn't like to start over.
I don't see the point of having 80 million people online if all they are doing in the end is talking to ghosts in the suburbs.
I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
I have lost the freedom of not having an opinion.
In the United States there's a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner.
In the United States, politics is a profession, whereas in Europe it is a right and a duty.
It is only petty men who seem normal.
Not long ago, if you wanted to seize political power in a country you had merely to control the army and the police. Today it is only in the most backward countries that fascist generals, in carrying out a coup d'état, still use tanks. If a country has reached a high degree of industrialization the whole scene changes. The day after the fall of Khrushchev, the editors of Pravda, Izvestiia, the heads of the radio and television were replaced; the army wasn't called out. Today a country belongs to the person who controls communications.
Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear.
One can be a great poet and be politically stupid.
Our life is full of empty space.
People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction.
Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.
Religion has nothing to do with God. It's a fundamental attitude of human beings, who ask about the origins of life and what happens after death. For many, the answer is a personal god. In my opinion, it's religion that produces God, not the other way round.
The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon...
The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.
The function of memory is not only to preserve, but also to throw away. If you remembered everything from your entire life, you would be sick.
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
There are more books in the world than hours in which to read them. We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven't read, that we haven't had the time to read.
Translation is the art of failure.
We are never racist against somebody who is very far away. I don't know any racism against the Eskimos. To have a racist feeling, there must be an other who is slightly different from us- but is living close to us.
We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death.
When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.
When someone has to intervene to defend the liberty of the press, that society is sick.
When you are on the dance floor, there is nothing to do but dance.
You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day.