Tributes paid to 'extraordinary' Umberto Eco

Tributes paid to 'extraordinary' Umberto Eco

Tributes have been paid to Italian writer Umberto Eco who has been remembered as a "master of Italian culture" after his death on Friday (19th February).

Best known for his medieval detective novel The Name of the Rose (Vintage Classics) which was published in 1980, Eco died aged 84 after suffering from cancer.  

"He was an extraordinary example of a European intellectual, combining unique intelligence of the past with a limitless capacity to anticipate the future," Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said, according to The Guardian. "It’s an enormous loss for culture, which will miss his writing and voice, his sharp and lively thought, and his humanity.”

Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, tweeted that Eco was “a master who brought Italian culture to the whole world.”

The Italian press also paid tribute to the celebrated writer and philosopher, with daily newspaper Corriere della Sera calling Eco “the writer who changed Italian culture”, and newspaper La Stampa describing a country "in mourning" for the author’s death.

Eco's most recent work, Numero Zero (Harvill Secker), was published last year and centres on a new newspaper in Milan funded by a meddling tycoon. A final novel will be released posthumously later this year, Italian media reported.

Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, says: "This is a very sad day for us as Umberto Eco was one of our most loved and respected writers and we have had the privilege of publishing his unique body of work for many years at Harvill Secker. It was a true honour to publish such an extraordinary writer and thinker who has contributed so much to the enjoyment and cultural life of readers all over the world. It is hard for us to accept that he is gone as he was a person of such enormous vitality and such a great pleasure to work with."

Eco's friend George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, told the BBC World Service: “He showed how not only to understand culture, in general, but to create new culture that way. That is what this man was about. Not only that, he loved it, he enjoyed every minute of it. To be with Eco was to just enjoy life.”

Born on 5th January 1932 in Alessandria, north-west Italy, Eco studied philosophy and literature at the University of Turin. Eco then worked as a cultural editor for the state broadcasting station RAI and lectured at the University of Turin.

A number of literary figures will gather at Iranian publisher Daf this evening (22nd February) to pay tribute to Eco.