With a prize of a novel, The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco shook the world of literature. Not only was he a fantastic novelist, but also a successful university professor, philosopher, semiotician and a tough literary critic.

The Name of the Rose (or “Il nome della rosa”), was his most celebrated work thought was also taken to the screens in 1986. Eco portrays mystery, ancient norms of society, faith and semiotics – the study of signs and symbols, in the most mind-blowing way possible. By 2010, Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and The Prague Cemetery had also made their way up the list of international bestsellers.

At a young age, Eco was developing ideas about semiotics and writing extensive reports on it. Books became his oxygen and his home in Milan was soon hosting a library of 30,000. His Opera Aperta – translates to The Open Work, argues that literature is a ‘field’ of meaning, rather than a string. To elaborate, he basically was implying that literature should be open and psychologically engaging instead of closed or limiting one’s potential to understand.

Eco’s analysis of literature and semiotics has been very eye-opening for people that find their passion in the intricacies of humanities. Here are 27 most inspirational quotes by Umberto Eco:


1. “To survive, you must tell stories.”
2. “Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”
3. “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.”

4. “I love the smell of book ink in the morning.”
5. “When men stop believing in God, it isn’t that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.”
6. “Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.”


7. “All poets write bad poetry. Bad poets publish them, good poets burn them.”
8. “Love is wiser than wisdom.”
9. “What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream?”
10. “Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another.”

11. “We were clever enough to turn a laundry list into poetry.”
12. “Where else? I belong to a lost generation and am comfortable only in the company of others who are lost and lonely.”
13. “Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.”

14. “A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams.”
15. “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
16. “The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless.”

17. “Yesterday’s rose endures in its name, we hold empty names.”
18. “The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text.”
19. “How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man!”

20. “Daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh; the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time.”
21. “But the purpose of a story is to teach and to please at once, and what it teaches is how to recognize the snares of the world.”
22. “If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teach them how to use television.”


A post shared by Jhonatan Rodas (@jhonatan_rhodas) on

23. “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.”
24. “How peaceful life would be without Love, Adso. How Safe. How Tranquil. And how Dull.”

25. “Since I became a novelist I have discovered that I am biased. Either I think a new novel is worse than mine and I don’t like it, or I suspect it is better than my novels and I don’t like it.”
26. “A mystic is a hysteric who has met her confessor before her doctor.”
27. “Translation is the art of failure.”