Umberto Eco 1932-2016

Umberto Eco, best known for The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, died on February 19. In an article for Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza introduces Misreadings, Eco’s book of short essays, and provides an excerpt from the essay “Regretfully, We Are Returning Your . . .,” which contains Eco’s “summary of the Bible, presented as an internal memo at a publishing house written by an editor rejecting the manuscript”:

The Bible:

I must say that the first few hundred pages of this manuscript really hooked me. Action-packed, they have everything today’s reader wants in a good story. Sex (lots of it, including adultery, sodomy, incest), also murder, war, massacres, and so on.

The Sodom and Gomorrah chapter, with the tranvestites putting the make on the angels, is worthy of Rabelais; the Noah stories are pure Jules Verne; the escape from Egypt cries out to be turned into a major motion picture . . . In other words, a real blockbuster, very well structured, with plenty of twists, full of invention, with just the right amount of piety, and never lapsing into tragedy.

But as I kept on reading, I realized that this is actually an anthology, involving several writers, with many–too many–stretches of poetry, and passages that are downright mawkish and boring, and jeremiads that make no sense.

The end result is a monster omnibus. It seems to have something for everybody, but ends up appealing to nobody. And acquiring the rights from all these different authors will mean big headaches, unless the editor takes care of that himself. The editor’s name, by the way, doesn’t appear anywhere on the manuscript, not even in the table of contents. Is there some reason for keeping his identity a secret?

I’d suggest trying to get the rights only to the first five chapters. We’re on sure ground there. Also come up with a better title. How about The Red Sea Desperadoes?

h/t  John Wilkins

2 thoughts on “Umberto Eco 1932-2016

  1. Thanks, will have to look him up online.

  2. Umberto Eco was a cheery light throughout this oftentimes dismal post war period. This economical dismissal of scriptural authority is so valuable for today’s young adults. It is almost too easy for those of us who have effortlessly dispense with supernaturalism. What about the rest of humanity? Also, the political legacy from taxation rules to international interventions are awaiting explanations and accounting. Coming to terms with the sacred story hoaxes has barely begun. Nobody contributed more effectively in this fight for the human conscience than Umberto.

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