“I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows that he cannot say to her “I love you madly”, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows 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”. At this point, having avoided false innocence, having said clearly it is no longer possible to talk innocently; he will nevertheless say what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her in an age of lost innocence.” Umberto Eco (1932- )
Born in the northern Italian town of Alessandria, Eco was educated in the Salesian tradition, (the Society of St. Francis de Sales, founded by Don Bosco) but left the church during his graduate studies, which centered on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. After a brief career as a cultural editor for Italian national radio, and a lecturer at the University of Turin, Eco began writing full time and gained wide-spread notice for his 1983 novel The Name of the Rose, which blends mystery with biblical analysis and semiotics. It is as a semiotician, one who studies the meaning of signs and non-verbal communication that he is in demand as a visiting professor at such august institutions as Harvard and Indiana University. He is the author of dozens of books on semiotics, medieval philosophy, and anthropology, and famously enjoys a personal library of more than 50,000 volumes.