Umberto Eco, a renowned Italian novelist and semiotician, divulges his approach to writing and his thoughts on the role of the reader. He perceives novels as a mechanism to understand the world, not a means to escape it. Eco’s writing process is organic, often commencing with an image or a vague idea, which then evolves over time. He likens it to a journey, where the end is unknown, and the path is discovered along the way.

Eco’s novels are often laden with cultural and historical references, challenging readers to interpret and decipher them. He believes this active engagement enhances the reading experience, making it more rewarding. He also views books as democratic entities, where the author’s interpretation is not superior to the reader’s.

Eco’s fascination with the Middle Ages is evident in his works. He appreciates the period for its multiplicity of interpretations and its intricacies, which he finds lacking in the modern world. He also expresses his admiration for James Joyce, whose works he finds rich in ambiguity and open to interpretation.

Despite the seriousness of his novels, Eco maintains a sense of humour, viewing it as a vital tool in life and literature. He believes humour to be a sign of intelligence and a way to cope with the absurdity of existence. He also discusses his role as a semiotician, describing it as a study of cultural phenomena, not a science of signs.

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