- Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.
- There is a constant in the average American imagination and taste, for which the past must be preserved and celebrated in full-scale authentic copy; a philosophy of immortality as duplication. It dominates the relation with the self, with the past, not infrequently with the present, always with History and, even, with the European tradition.
- There is only one thing that arouses animals more than pleasure, and that is pain. Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him.
- The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb.
- Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear.
- I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.
- The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently. I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, I love you madly, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly.
- The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it.
- The ideology of this America wants to establish reassurance through Imitation. But profit defeats ideology, because the consumers want to be thrilled not only by the guarantee of the Good but also by the shudder of the Bad.
- A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams.
Umberto Eco, OMRI is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist. He is best known for his groundbreaking 1980 historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He has since written further novels, including Il pendolo di Foucault and L'isola del giorno prima. His most recent novel Il cimitero di Praga, released in 2010, was a best-seller.
Eco has also written academic texts, children's books and many essays. He is founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione at the University of the Republic of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna, member of the Accademia dei Lincei and an Honorary Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.