Umberto Eco’s glimpse into the art of the novel

From Salon:

Eco The title of “Confessions of a Young Novelist,” Umberto Eco's new book , is characteristically sly. Eco is not exactly wet behind the ears — he will turn 80 next year — but as he reminds the reader on the first page, he did not publish his first novel, “The Name of the Rose,” until 1980. “Thus,” he explains, “I consider myself a very young novelist, who has so far published only five novels and will publish many more in the next fifty years.” That seems unlikely, but you wouldn't want to bet against Eco. After all, “The Name of the Rose” — a debut novel by a middle-aged academic, packed with medieval history and intricate literary allusions — wouldn't have been anyone's pick to become a bestseller. In fact, Eco writes, “the first critics who reviewed [it] said it had been written under the influence of a luminous inspiration, but that, because of its conceptual and linguistic difficulties, it was only for the happy few. When the book met with remarkable success, selling millions of copies, the same critics wrote that in order to concoct such a popular and entertaining bestseller, I had no doubt mechanically followed a secret recipe.”

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