R.I.P. Umberto Eco and Harper Lee




The world lost two of its most important writers today, Friday February 19, 2016: Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.  I offer this small post in remembrance of their brilliance.



Umberto Eco was a renowned professor of semiotics, the study of language and signs, as well as a best-selling novelist, and he died at the age of 84. He is probably best known outside of the academic world for his novel The Name of the Rose and the successful Hollywood film based on it, which  starred Sean Connery.  The book was, on the surface, a medieval murder mystery that was heavily influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his great detective Sherlock Holmes. It was also a multi-layered exploration of the medieval as well as the contemporary world. Eco incorporated a difficult series of puzzles and codes within the text by utilizing his knowledge of semiotics, and his labyrinthine library was based on the writing of Jorge Luis Borges.   The Name Of The Rose established Eco’s career as a novelist, which he followed up with books like Foucault’s Pendulum.   His writing entertains on  the surface and then challenges the reader to delve deeply into intellectual exploration of the world.



Harper Lee,  the novelist whose seminal work on racism and justice in America To Kill A Mockingbird, also died today.  She was 89 years old. Her book focused attention on racism and the lack of justice in southern small-town America as well as the attempt by her hero Atticus Finch to fight for the life of a black man accused of raping a young white woman. This book, and the enormously successful film based on her novel by the same name and starring Gregory Peck, a powerful adaptation, are both beloved and masterpieces of literature and film. In 2015, Lee released a book that can be seen as a sequel, prequel, or adaptation of To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set A Watchman.



As a reader, I have loved their writings.  I have also used To Kill A Mockingbird and The Name Of The Rose in my college classes.  Both books presented challenges to my students as well as great rewards for the studying of them.

The world has lost two powerful and deeply important writers.

Rest in Peace: Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.


60 thoughts on “R.I.P. Umberto Eco and Harper Lee

  1. I am very sad for the two loss, Umberto Eco was a great Italian writer I loved his work, he left a wonderful trace in this world with all his books. Italy is my native country, where I grow up and studied Art before my move to US. We all can learn from what they left the written remains… R.I.P. Ciao Umberto and Harper.

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  2. I love the book The Name Of the Rose as you say it is a multilayeted book. The film also was an accurate representation of the book. I am said to hear of Umberto Eco’s death, I was unaware of his passing.
    I was aware of Haper Lee’s death that is sad too. All that talent and the world had to wait so long for a second book. I have not read either of her books but I have heard she based To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman on the people she knew and the town she lived in as a child. Thank you for an interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This really makes me feel so sad:( I´ve just finished reading “To kill a mockingbird” last week (for the umpteenth time) and marvelled at the beauty of Harper´s writing. And Umberto Eco actually kindled my inquisitivness for everything history related so many years before with his “The name of the rose”, be it the middle ages or antiquity. I will truly miss them!

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  4. Both writers leave a great legacy in their writings. I am a huge fan of Harper Lee and especially enjoyed learning more about her and her longtime friendship with Truman Capote in the movies ‘Capote’ (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and ‘Infamous’ (Toby Jones), both based on the story behind the book ‘In Cold Blood’ by Capote.

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  5. I first read “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco many years ago and it had a transforming effect on how I thought about works of literary art. I remember to this day how this literary work captivated me and I absolutely fell in love with it. Umberto Eco’s writing of “The Name of the Rose” is and always will be a singularity in literature for me. Thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

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