Umberto Eco quotes

  • We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Escaping #Want #Way

  • I do not remember where I read that there are two kinds of poets: the good poets, who at a certain point destroy their bad poems and go off to run guns in Africa, and the bad poets, who publish theirs and keep writing more until they die.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Running #Writing #Gun

  • When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Atheist #Believe #Men

  • I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Fathers Day #Dad #Believe

  • Dan Brown is a character from 'Foucault's Pendulum!' I invented him. He shares my characters' fascinations - the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Character #Knights #Secret

  • I love the smell of book ink in the morning.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Morning #Book #Smell

  • We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Littles #Scrap

  • We live for books.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book

  • There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book #Past #People

  • To survive, you must tell stories.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Stories

  • Then why do you want to know?" "Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Inspirational #Knowing #Intelligence

  • When you are on the dancefloor, there is nothing to do but dance.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Dance

  • We like lists because we don't want to die.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Lists #Want #Wanting To Die

  • Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Love #Inspirational #Relationship

  • I always assume that a good book is more intelligent than its author. It can say things that the writer is not aware of.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book #Intelligent #Assuming

  • When the writer (or the artist in general) says he has worked without giving any thought to the rules of the process, he simply means he was working without realizing he knew the rules.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #Mean #Artist

  • The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Sports #Dream #Real

  • Someone said that patriotism is the last refuge of cowards; those without moral principles usually wrap a flag around themselves, and those bastards always talk about the purity of race.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Race #Coward #Flags

  • I discovered ... that a novel has nothing to do with words in the first instance. Writing a novel is a cosmological matter, like the story told by Genesis (we all have to choose our role models, as Woody Allen puts it).
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #Role Models #Roles

  • In the United States there's a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Country #Latin #Successful

  • A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Inspirational #Funny #War

  • Translation is the art of failure.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Art #Translations

  • Homer's work hits again and again on the topos of the inexpressible. People will always do that.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #People

  • I could work in the shower if I had plastic paper.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Paper #Showers #Plastic

  • I love the secrecy of writing fiction. When I write a novel, I don't tell anybody what I'm doing. I'm living in my private world. And it's a great sensation.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #World #Fiction

  • 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.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Lying #Book #Reading

  • You must overcome any shyness and have a conversation with the librarian, because he can offer you reliable advice that will save you much time. You must consider that the librarian (if not overworked or neurotic) is happy when he can demonstrate two things: the quality of his memory and erudition and the richness of his library, especially if it is small. The more isolated and disregarded the library, the more the librarian is consumed with sorrow for its underestimation. A person who asks for help makes the librarian happy.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Memories #Two #Advice

  • There is no great sport in having bullets flying about one in every direction, but I find they have less horror when among them than when in anticipation.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Sports #Squash #Flying

  • American coffee can be a pale solution served at a temperature of 100 degrees centigrade in plastic thermos cups, usually obligatory in railroad stations for purposes of genocide, whereas coffee made with an American percolator, such as you find in private houses or in humble luncheonettes, served with eggs and bacon, is delicious, fragrant, goes down like pure spring water, and afterwards causes severe palpitations, because one cup contains more caffeine than four espressos.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Spring #Coffee #Humble

  • Idiot. Above her head was the only stable point in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business. A moment later the couple went off -- he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter -- their first and last encounter -- with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Couple #Damnation #Cosmos

  • I felt like poisoning a monk.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Motivational #Monk #Poisoning

  • Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Courage #Fear #Men

  • Jacopo Belbo didnt understand that he had had his moment and that it would have to be enough for him, for all his life. Not recognizing it, he spent the rest of his days seeking something else, until he damned himself.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Moments #Enough #Recognizing

  • Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treausre of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Lying #Book #Reflection

  • I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Life #Witty #Powerful

  • An idea you have might not be original. But by creating a novel out of that idea you can make it original.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #Ideas #Creating

  • The real hero is always a hero by mistake.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Real #Mistake #Hero

  • If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you're an idiot.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Things Change #Idiot

  • I should be at peace. I have understood. Don't some say that peace comes when you understand? I have understood. I should be at peace. Who said that peace derives from the contemplation of order, order understood, enjoyed, realized without residuum, in joy and truimph, the end of effort? All is clear, limpid; the eye rests on the whole and on the parts and sees how the parts have conspired to make the whole; it perceives the center where the lymph flows, the breath, the root of the whys...
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Eye #Order #Roots

  • If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teach them how to use television.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Television #Want #Firsts

  • When the poet is in love, he is incapable of writing poetry on love. He has to write when he remembers that he was in love.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #Remember #Poet

  • I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Reading #Different #Poetic

  • Writing doesn't mean necessarily putting words on a sheet of paper. You can write a chapter while walking or eating.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Mean #Writing #Paper

  • If you want to become a man of letters and perhaps write some Histories one day, you must also lie and invent tales, otherwise your History would become monotonous. But you must act with restraint. The world condemns liars who do nothing but lie, even about the most trivial things, and it rewards poets, who lie only about the greatest things.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Liars #Lying #Writing

  • The pleasures of love are pains that become desirable, where sweetness and torment blend, and so love is voluntary insanity, infernal paradise, and celestial hell - in short, harmony of opposite yearnings, sorrowful laughter, soft diamond.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Laughter #Pain #Love Is

  • Since I became a novelist I have discovered that I am biased. Either I think a new novel is worse than mine and I don’t like it, or I suspect it is better than my novels and I don’t like it.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Thinking #Novelists #Novel

  • Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means...
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Trust #Book #Mean

  • I think that at a certain age, say fifteen or sixteen, poetry is like masturbation. But later in life good poets burn their early poetry, and bad poets publish it. Thankfully I gave up rather quickly.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Good Life #Thinking #Age

  • What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream?
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Dream #Shadow #Fleeting

  • To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative — the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Reading #Mean #Games

  • Sometimes you say things with a smile with the precise intention of making it clear that you are not being serious, and are only kidding. If I salute a friend with a smile and say, 'How are you, you old scoundrel!' clearly I don't really mean he's a scoundrel.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Mean #Serious #Sometimes

  • Semiotics is a general theory of all existing languages... all forms of communication - visual, tactile, and so on... There is general semiotics, which is a philosophical approach to this field, and then there are many specific semiotics.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Communication #Philosophical #Fields

  • Religion has nothing to do with God. It's a fundamental attitude of human beings, who ask about the origins of life and what happens after death. For many, the answer is a personal god. In my opinion, it's religion that produces God, not the other way round.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Attitude #Answers #Way

  • I seal that which was not to be said in the tomb that I become.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Said #Seals

  • Political satire is a serious thing. In democratic newspapers throughout the world there are daily cartoons that often are not even funny, as is the case especially in many English-language newspapers. Instead, they contain a political message, and the artist takes full responsibility.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Responsibility #Artist #Political

  • Narrativity presumes a special taste for plot. And this taste for plot was always very present in the Anglo-Saxon countries and that explains their high quality of detective novels.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Country #Quality #Special

  • My grandfather had a particularly important influence on my life, even though I didn't visit him often, since he lived about three miles out of town and he died when I was six. He was remarkably curious about the world, and he read lots of books.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book #Grandfather #Important

  • Media populism means appealing to people directly through media. A politician who can master the media can shape political affairs outside of parliament and even eliminate the mediation of parliament.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Mean #Media #People

  • The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon... The book has been thoroughly tested, and it's very hard to see how it could be improved on for its current purposes.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book #Spoons #Wheels

  • The court jester had the right to say the most outrageous things to the king. Everything was permitted during carnival, even the songs that the Roman legionnaires would sing, calling Julius Caesar 'queen,' alluding, in a very transparent way, to his real, or presumed, homosexual escapades.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Song #Queens #Kings

  • The most interesting letters I received about 'The Name of the Rose' were from people in the Midwest that maybe didn't understand exactly, but wanted to understand more and who were excited by this picture of a world which was not their own.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Names #Interesting #Rose

  • It was awkward, revisiting a world you have never seen before: like coming home, after a long journey, to someone else’s house.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Home #Journey #Long

  • Memory is a stopgap for humans, for whom time flies and what is passed is passed.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Memories #Time Flies #Humans

  • When I went from being an academic to being a member of the community of writers some of my former colleagues did look on me with a certain resentment.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Community #Looks #Resentment

  • We invented the car, and it made it easier for us to crash and die. If I gave a car to my grandfather, he would die in five minutes, while I have grown up slowly to accept speed.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Car #Grandfather #Speed

  • We are a pluralist civilisation because we allow mosques to be built in our countries, and we are not going to stop simply because Christian missionaries are thrown into prison in Kabul. If we did so, we, too, would become Taliban.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Christian #Country #Mosques

  • To play the trumpet, you must train your lips for a long time. When I was twelve or thirteen I was a good player, but I lost the skill and now I play very badly. I do it every day even so. The reason is that I want to return to my childhood. For me, the trumpet is evidence of the sort of young man I was.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Player #Men #Skills

  • It comes down to a question of attention: it's difficult to use the Net distractedly, unlike the television or the radio.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Use #Television #Radio

  • There are more books in the world than hours in which to read them. We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven't read, that we haven't had the time to read.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Book #World #Hours

  • The thought that all experience will be lost at the moment of my death makes me feel pain and fear... What a waste, decades spent building up experience, only to throw it all away... We remedy this sadness by working. For example, by writing, painting, or building cities.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Pain #Writing #Sadness

  • The problem with the Internet is that it gives you everything - reliable material and crazy material. So the problem becomes, how do you discriminate?
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Crazy #Giving #Internet

  • It is clear that when you write a story that takes place in the past, you try to show what really happened in those times. But you are always moved by the suspicion that you are also showing something about our contemporary world.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Writing #Past #Trying

  • If western culture is shown to be rich, it is because, even before the Enlightenment, it has tried to 'dissolve' harmful simplifications through inquiry and the critical mind.
    -- Umberto Eco

    #Mind #Enlightenment #Inquiry