Top 86 Umberto Eco Quotes

Not bad, not bad at all,” Diotallevi said. “To arrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text.


Thus we have on stage two men, each of whom knows nothing of what he believes the other knows, and to deceive each other reciprocally both speak in allusions, each of the two hoping (in vain) that the other holds the key to his puzzle.


Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used “to tell” at all.


Atât de mare e puterea adevărului care, precum binele, se răspândește de la sine.


I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.


the first quality of an honest man is contempt for religion, which would have us afraid of the most natural thing in the world, which is death; and would have us hate the one beautiful thing destiny has given us, which is life.


Rem tene, verba sequentur: grasp the subject, and the words will follow. This, I believe, is the opposite of what happens with poetry, which is more a case of verba tene, res sequenter: grasp the words, and the subject will follow.


I think that at a certain age, say fifteen or sixteen, poetry is like masturbation. But later in life good poets burn their early poetry, and bad poets publish it. Thankfully I gave up rather quickly.


I’d lost all faith in everything, except for the certainty that there’s always someone behind our backs waiting to deceive us.


When the writer (or the artist in general) says he has worked without giving any thought to the rules of the process, he simply means he was working without realizing he knew the rules.


But the purpose of a story is to teach and to please at once, and what it teaches is how to recognize the snares of the world.


The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text.


In the Middle Ages, cathedrals and convents burned like tinder; imagining a medieval story without a fire is like imagining a World War II movie in the Pacific without a fighter plane shot down in flames.


Is it possible to say “It was a beautiful morning at the end of November” without feeling like Snoopy?


Since I became a novelist I have discovered that I am biased. Either I think a new novel is worse than mine and I don’t like it, or I suspect it is better than my novels and I don’t like it.


I wrote a novel because I had a yen to do it. I believe this is sufficient reason to set out to tell a story.


I discovered … that a novel has nothing to do with words in the first instance. Writing a novel is a cosmological matter, like the story told by Genesis (we all have to choose our role models, as Woody Allen puts it).


People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction.


Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.


National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same.


El diablo no es el príncipe de la materia, el diablo es la arrogancia del espíritu, la fe sin sonrisa, la verdad jamás tocada por la duda.


Die Menschen tun das Böse nie so vollständig und begeistert, wie wenn sie es aus religiöser Überzeugung tun.


Then why do you want to know?””Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.


…the more things you know, or pretend to know, the more powerful you are. It doesn’t matter if things are true. What counts, remember, is to possess a secret.


Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.


If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teachthem how to use television.


It’s quite possible that mortality is simply the result of poor education.


Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means…


Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.


Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.


The beauty of the universe consists not only of unity in variety, but also of variety in unity.


Only by having a sense of history’s trajectory (even if one does not believe in Parousia) can one love earthly reality and believe—with charity—that there is still room for Hope.


We are a pluralist civilisation because we allow mosques to be built in our countries, and we are not going to stop simply because Christian missionaries are thrown into prison in Kabul. If we did so, we, too, would become Taliban.


Entering a novel is like going on a climb in the mountains: you have to learn the rhythm of respiration, acquire the pace; otherwise you stop right away.


Yes, I know, it’s not the truth, but in a great history little truths can be altered so that the greater truth emerges.


To make them forget how bad human beings are, they were taught too insistently that bears are good. Instead of being told honestly what humans are and what bears are.


Scratch the heresy and you will find the leper. Every battle against heresy wants only this: to keep the leper as he is.


I lacked the courage to investigate the weaknesses of the wicked, because I discovered they are the same as the weaknesses of the saintly.


Can you call yourself a coward simply because the courage of others seems to you out of proportion to the triviality of the occasion? Thus wisdom creates cowards. And thus you miss Opportunity while spending your life on the lookout for it.


Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another.


The fine thing about pacts with the devil is that when you sign them you are well aware of their conditions. Otherwise, why would you be recompensed with hell?


But what use is the unicorn to you if your intellect doesn’t believe in it?


The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless.


He is always on the brink of suicide… because he seeks salvation through the routine formulas suggested to him by the society in which he lives.


We always have to blame our failures on somebody else, and dictatorships always need an external enemy to bind their followers together. As the man said, for every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong.


The Templars’ mental confusion makes them indecipherable. That’s why so many people venerate them.


How clear everything becomes when you look from the darkness of a dungeon!


There is only one thing that you write for yourself, and that is a shopping list.


What is a saint supposed to do, if not convert wolves?


He is, or has been, in many ways a great man. But for this very reason he is odd. It is only petty men who seem normal.


But it has often happened that I have found the most seductive depictions of sin in the pages of those very men of incorruptible virtue who condemned their spell and their effects.


And what would we be, we sinful creatures, without fear, perhaps the most foresighted, the most loving of the divine gifts?


The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer,the wheel. Once invented it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoonthat is better than a spoon


the book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. once invented, it cannot be improved


Throughout our lives, after all, we look for a story of our origins, to tell us why we were born and why we have lived.


The people of God cannot be changed until the outcasts are restored to its body.


How clear everything becomes when you look from the darkness of a dungeon.


Daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh; the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time.


The outcast lepers would like to drag everything down in their ruin. And they become all the more evil, the more you cast them out; and the more you depict them as a court of lemurs who want your ruin, the more they will be outcast.


The print does not always have the same shape as the body that impressed it, and it doesn’t always derive from the pressure of a body. At times it reproduces the impression a body has left in our mind: it is the print of an idea.


… luckily, Eden is soon populated. The ethical dimension begins when the other appears on the scene.


The list could surely go on, and there is nothing more wonderful than a list, instrument of wondrous hypotyposis.


Colorless green ideas sleep furiouslythree old owls on a chest of drawerswere screwingthe daughter of the doctor.But then the mother called them,colorless green ideas slepp furiously.


It is necessary to meditate early, and often, on the art of dying to succeed later in doing it properly just once.


After all, the fundamental question of philosophy (like that of psychoanalysis) is the same as the question of the detective novel: who is guilty?


William made an ejaculation in his own language that I didn’t understand, nor did the abbot understand it, and perhaps it was best for us both, because the word William uttered had an obscene hissing sound.


I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.


A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection — not an invitation for hypnosis.


I was upset. I had always believed logic was a universal weapon and now I realized how its validity depended on the way it was employed.


It [Foucault’s Pendulum] can be very comforting for people of my generation, who ate disappointment for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Then we are living in a place abandoned by God,” I said, disheartened.”Have you found any places where God would have felt at home?” William asked me, looking down from his great height.


The Internet gives us everything and forces us to filter it not by the workings of culture, but with our own brains. This risks creating six billion separate encyclopedias, which would prevent any common understanding whatsoever.


And in that moment I experience a revelation.I realize now that it was a painful sense that the world is purposeless, the lazy fruit of a misunderstanding, but in that moment I was able to translate what I felt only as: “God does not exist.


It’s not the news that makes the newspaper, but the newspaper that makes the news.


You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day.


A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams.


The real hero is always a hero by mistake he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.


The comic is the perception of the opposite humor is the feeling of it.


Berlusconi is a genius in communication. Otherwise, he would never have become so rich.


Semiotics is a general theory of all existing languages… all forms of communication – visual, tactile, and so on… There is general semiotics, which is a philosophical approach to this field, and then there are many specific semiotics.


Captain Cook discovered Australia looking for the Terra Incognita. Christopher Columbus thought he was finding India but discovered America. History is full of events that happened because of an imaginary tale.


But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.


I have to admit that I only read ‘War and Peace’ when I was 40. But I knew the basics before then.


In the United States there’s a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner.


Poetry is not a matter of feelings, it is a matter of language. It is language which creates feelings.


When the poet is in love, he is incapable of writing poetry on love. He has to write when he remembers that he was in love.



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