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Umberto Eco as Consummate Book Collector

By Kristin Masters. Jan 5, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Rare Books, Book Collecting

Umberto Eco made quite a name for himself as a philosopher, author, and semiotician. He also earned a reputation for being an enthusiastic collector of rare books. Eco amassed tens of thousands of books, and always observed that he hadn't read most of them. Yet his personal library played an important role for him as a writer, informing his books with a uniqueand fascinatingintertextual layer.


Umberto Eco: A Retrospective

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco, Movie Tie-Ins

In February of 2016, one of the greatest thinkers and writers of this era died. Indeed, Umberto Eco was a rare and notable writer. Not only did he publish over twenty books of academic nonfiction in the field of semioticsthe study of signs and symbolsbut he also wrote novels that achieved the type of blockbuster success many authors only dream of having. His fictive work married his interest in his academic pursuits with a love of mystery and pop culture that captivated readers, many of which had no clue what semiotics are and were simply drawn to the captivating plots and heroes populating his novels. Both Eco's nonfiction and popular work left an indelible mark, cementing him as one of the most important writers of our time.


The Playful Madness of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum

By Matt Reimann. Oct 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

On February 19 of this year, world literature lost one of its most wise and respected members: Umberto Eco. A recent passing, one wonders if his reputation will go the way of many “greats” with penchants for humor and madness. Canonical reverence, as it does with Moby Dick, Ulysses, and others, often obscures the joyous play and zaniness of the object it praises. Eco, a literary trickster if there ever was one, would be disheartened to see his memory so distorted.


Lunatic Science: Umberto Eco's Library

By Brian Hoey. Jan 5, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

If the 30,000 volume book collection housed in Umberto Eco’s Milan apartment can be said to inspire one response, it might well be awe. Lila Azam Zanganeh, who interviewed Eco for The Paris Review described Eco’s abode as “a labyrinth of corridors lined with bookcases that reach all the way up to extraordinarily high ceilings," and makes mention of the library as “a legend in and of itself.” Most commonly, when a visitor is first shown the veritable universe of books that expands throughout the author’s home, they can think of only one question: “have you read all of these?”


Best Books on Italy

By Audrey Golden. Oct 20, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco, Literature

For many English-language readers, a mention of Italy conjures vivid images of culinary landscapes and Renaissance art. While Italian literature hasn’t been translated as widely as works from certain other regions of Western and Central Europe, many books from the country capture it in vastly different periods of time, bringing readers murder mysteries, film histories, and wartime memories. Today, we'd like to explore a sample of the best books on Italy.


10 Surprising Facts about Umberto Eco: Comic Books, Crime, & Trumpets

By Katie Behrens. Jan 3, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

In 1980, at age 48, Umberto Eco made his debut as a novelist with The Name of the Rose (originally in Italian Il nome della rosa) and has been a literary and philosophical juggernaut ever since.  In addition to his impressive publishing rap sheet, Eco also had a successful academic career in the fields of literature, semiotics, medieval history, and quite a few others. Given that he curated a 2009 exhibition at the Louvre in Paris on the essential nature of lists, we honor this great thinker today with one of our own.


Five Books to Include in Your Umberto Eco Collection

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco is a renowned author, philosopher, and academic who has made contributions across genres, from fiction and non-fiction to children’s literature, literary criticism, academic essays, and journalistic prose. Whatever style Eco pursues, his works are robust: filled with dense and layered information and compelling plot points.

Eco’s genius has been inspired in part by his own collection of books. He uses his personal library, filled with over 50,000 titles and housed in two locations, as a personal reference center when composing works of his own. While many are familiar with Eco's classic novel, The Name of the Rose, some of his other writing is less well known. These titles also deserve recognition, and a glimpse at them may be enough to expand your own reading list. Below are some of our favorites - less commonly recognized, but striking and important reads nonetheless.


Rare Book Collector Spotlight: Tips for Collecting Rare Books and First Editions

By Andrea Koczela. May 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

In the second of a two-part interview, Moshe Prigan—an accomplished book collector, freelance writer, and retired teacher of art and history—shares his experience about building his rare book collection and provides guidance for novice book collectors. 


Rare Book Collector Spotlight: Modern First Editions of Moshe Prigan

By Andrea Koczela. May 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

Moshe Prigan is an accomplished book collector, freelance writer, and retired teacher of art and history. He lives in Haifa, Israel but searches globally to make new acquisitions for his collection. While mainly interested in English and Italian volumes of Umberto Eco, he also collects other authors including Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. Moshe has generously shared his collecting insights with us in the following interview.


How Does One Collect the Books of a Great Collector Like Umberto Eco?

By Kristin Masters. Jan 5, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

Born on January 5, 1932 in Alessandria, Italy, Umberto Eco is one of the world's most prolific legendary authors. His family name is supposedly an acronym for Ex caelis oblatus ("A gift from heaven,") and was given to Eco's foundling grandfather by a city official. Eco's father was one of thirteen children. He urged his son to pursue a career in law: stable, lucrative, and prestigious. But Eco had other ideas. His career has led him to philosophy, semiotics, and literature. 

Eco is a collector of books himself, and he's built an enviable personal library of over 50,000 books. His philosophy of collecting is, however, a bit different than that of most rare book collectors. Eco views his library as a tool for research and information, and he values it not for the books he's already read, but for those that he has not yet read. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Beinecke Library, he delivered an excellent lecture on the library as a model for culture at Yale University this past fall. 


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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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