Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco dies aged 84

The Italian writer and academic Umberto Eco in Paris, at the Louvre Museum. Image: Getty

His family announced that he died Friday evening at his home.

Eco, who was born in Alessandria, northern Italy, in 1932, wrote the novel The Name of the Rose which was made into a film in 1989 starring Scottish actor Sean Connery.

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The Name of the Rose has sold millions of copies, a great achievement for a story filled with partially translated Latin quotations and puzzling reflections on the nature of symbols.

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Its back catalog also includes Foucault’s novel Le Pendule, Numero Zero and a selection of children’s books and literary reviews.

Eco founded the Department of Communication at the University of San Marino in the 1980s and later became Emeritus Professor and President of the Graduate School of Humanities at the University of Bologna.

Recent works include ‘From the Tree to the Labyrinth’, an essay on semiotics and language published in 2007, and ‘Turning Back the Clock’, a collection of essays on a variety of topics, ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to anti-Semitism and virulent criticism of the conservative government of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. His most recent novel, “Numero Zero,” came out last year and recalled a 1990s political scandal that helped Berlusconi rise.

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