Oct 19, 2013
05:37 AM
Education

At Yale, Umberto Eco Honors Beinecke Library, Recalls New Haven Spot Inspiring 'Name of the Rose'

At Yale, Umberto Eco Honors Beinecke Library, Recalls New Haven Spot Inspiring 'Name of the Rose'

Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register

Novelist Umberto Eco waits to speak at Yale University Art Gallery Friday evening.

NEW HAVEN--Novelist Umberto Eco, whose writings are as textured as a medieval tapestry, made a rare visit to the U.S. Friday to wax philosophical about the cultural leadership of libraries.

Of course, that came after Eco, 81, gave a shout-out to an iconic local spot that contributed to one of the greatest works of modern literature.

“I hope that the Beinecke people will not be upset if I start with an homage to the Sterling Library,” Eco said, speaking to a filled auditorium at the Yale University Art Gallery.

“It was there that I got the first idea of the library I imagined for my novel, ‘The Name of the Rose,’” Eco said. “It happened when I was exploring one of the mezzanines which you could not reach by the elevator and were pretty somber and funereal, so that at a certain moment I felt lost and unable to find a way out.”

“The Name of the Rose,” Eco’s 1980 bestselling novel set in a 14th century monastery, features a labyrinthine library where evil deeds are done. The novel set Eco on a path that would make him one of the most admired literary figures in the world.

Eco’s appearance Friday was part of the year-long, 50th anniversary celebration of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Eco was a visiting professor at Yale in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sitting on a chair in the center of the stage and holding a thick clutch of pages, Eco delivered a treatise on collected human knowledge that was as deeply thought-provoking as any of his works of fiction.

At one point, he recited a verbal riff on societal wisdom, past and present, that lasted several minutes and included mentions of the Bible, Shakespeare, Disraeli and Jurassic Park.

“That is all you know on Earth and all you need to know,” he said.

See the full story at New Haven Register online.

 

At Yale, Umberto Eco Honors Beinecke Library, Recalls New Haven Spot Inspiring 'Name of the Rose'

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