Umberto Eco – The Roadmap To The 21st Century


Been a hectic start to 2016. New TV pitch optioned, new TV script started, new novel pitch underway, and I’m well into the next novel from my pseudonym, James Wilde.  This book should be out in January 2017, six months earlier than the usual cycle, so the clock is ticking. But it will be of particular interest to Age of Misrule readers.

But I wanted to say a few brief words about Umberto Eco, who died yesterday.  His novel, Foucault’s Pendulum, is one of my favourites, dovetailing as it does with my particular interests of conspiracy theories, the nature of truth, reality and imagination, and, above all else, the power of myth, both ancient and modern.

Eco casts a shadow over the 21st century.  Before the turn of the millennium, he was already dealing with ways of writing and thinking that are becoming prominent in this century.  And he should hold a special place in the heart of readers who love imaginative fictions and great writing.

There are still 20th century people abroad who belabour the world with that century’s binary thinking – literary or genre, say, the kind of people who believe there are still boundaries around what we do.  Eco loved his cultural tropes, his comics – he wrote a great piece about Charles Schultz’s brilliant Peanuts comic strip which you can probably find online somewhere – his detective fiction, his fantasy (or magical realism for those who find that word sticks in their craw).  The Name of the Rose managed to be both massively literate, an intellectual dissection of religious thinking and repression, a historical tract, and a gripping murder mystery.

Foucault’s Pendulum takes your hand and leads you slowly away from the real world into a labyrinth of paranoia where anything might be true, or nothing.  Eco claims he invented Dan Brown in this novel, and the author then took on a life of his own and wrote The Da Vinci Code.

Eco showed us how we can think about stories once we throw off the shackles of the last century.  He will be missed for his work, but remembered for his road map.

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