February 19th, 2016


IN MEMORIAM: Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco has died at the age of 84.

It's ironic; I've just added a book of his to my to-read pile: The Search for the Perfect Language.

I've read his literary criticism as well as his fiction, but it's a misreading that most sticks with me. I'm no Latinist, and there was no Internet in the days when I first read The Name of the Rose. The final Latin quotation, “stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus," means "the original rose remains [only] in its name, we hold [only] bare names." But I puzzled it out as "when the rose is gone, only the name of the rose remains." A slight but significant shift in meaning.

Dr. Eco, your name remains. Your work remains, and the influence you had on a generation of readers and thinkers.

ETA: I know Harper Lee also died today, but it's going to take me a while longer to express my very complicated feelings about her death. Much closer to home.

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