Umberto Eco

Collaborations & Contributions

The Picture History of Inventions from Plough to Polaris

Umberto Eco with G. Zorzoli.
New York: Macmillan, 1963. Translated by Anthony Lawrence. Out of Print.

Published in 1961 as Storia figurata delle invenzioni: dalla selce scheggiata al volo spaziali.

The Bond Affair

Umberto Eco with Oreste del Buono.
London: Macdonald, 1966. Translated by R. Downie. Out of Print.

Published in 1965 as Il caso Bond, this is a lighthearted but serious study of James Bond as a cultural phenomena. (The English translation has been called by Eco “unreliable.”)

The People’s Comic Book: Red Women’s Detachment, Hot on the Trail, and Other Chinese Comics

Umberto Eco with J. Chesneaux and G. Nebiolo.
1973. Translated by Frances Frenaye. Out of Print. [
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Published in 1971 as I fumetti di Mao, this has been described as “an unusual translation-adaptation of comic books on revolutionary subjects from the People’s Republic of China.”

Charles M. Schulz: 40 Years of Life and Art

Giovanni Trimboli & Umberto Eco.
Pharos Books, 1990, ISBN 0886875188; Hardcover. Out of Print. [
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This work is out of print. The only review I can find comes from an Amazon.com visitor who remarks, “This book contains classic strips and thoughts of Mr. Schulz, Mr. Melendez, and Mr. Mendelson. A must have for any Peanuts fan.”
I am unsure about Eco’s contribution to this work. It may be original, or it may be a reprint of the same essay found in Apocalypse Postponed, “The World of Charlie Brown,” which opened the very first Italian book of Peanuts cartoons. Comments and reviews are welcome.

Zeitgeist in Babel: The Post-Modernist Controversy

Edited by Edited by Ingeborg Hoesterey.
Contains an essay by Umberto Eco.

1. Indiana University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-253-32835-7; Hardcover $37.50. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Indiana University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-253-20611-1; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

According to IU Press, “Zeitgeist in Babel vividly displays the confluence of discourse-formations concerning postmodernism as they take shape in the different disciplines of aesthetic mediums and philosophical discourse. The twenty contributors include Umberto Eco, Jacques Derrida, Clement Greenberg, Martin Jay, Charles Jencks, Susan Rubin Suleiman, and Richard Rorty.” Eco’s contribution , which closes the book, is an essay written with Stefano Russo entitled “A Correspondence on Postmodernism.” You can get a more complete look at the essays and read a few review extracts here at the Indiana University Press Web page.

The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-1968

Edited by Germano Celant.
Contains material by Umberto Eco.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1994, ISBN 0810968711; Hardcover $85.00. [
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The program book to a 1994 Guggenheim exhibition. The Publisher’s description is as follows:

This book, published on the occasion of a major exhibition mounted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, celebrates the flowering of Italian creativity in the twenty-five year period that began with the fall of the Fascist regime. The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-1968 is the first book to bring together all aspects of Italian visual culture from this fascinating period. Through seventeen scholarly essays and hundreds of lavish full-color and duotone reproductions, this volume captures the era’s greatest achievements in the fields of painting, sculpture, artists’ crafts, literature, photography, cinema, fashion, architecture, and design. Also included are translations of major manifestos written by artists and critics, as well as an extensive chronology encompassing the cultural and political history of the period.


The Future of the Book

Edited by Geoffrey Nunberg.
Afterword by Umberto Eco.
University of California Press, 1996, ISBN 0520204514; Paperback $15.95. [
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This is a collection of twelve papers delivered at the 1994 symposium, “The Future of the Book,” held at the University of San Marino. The papers discuss the relationship literature and publishing will have with emerging technologies, and possible cultural changes that computers might bring to literacy in the next century. Umberto Eco provides a lucid and humorous Afterword to the collection, a variant on his popular “Future of Books” lecture. You may also read the lecture here.


The Cult of Vespa

Umberto Eco, Omar Calabrese, Lina Wretmuller, Francois Burkhardt.
Gingko Press, 1997, ISBN: 3927258393; Paperback $39.95. [
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A collections of essays about the Vespa motor scooter. The only review I can find comes from an Amazon.com visitor who remarks, “Boring! People trying to [be] artsy about their memories of Vespa’s [sic], it’s a non-electric yawn machine...pass it by.” The publisher has something different to say:

Here is the entertaining history about the most successful ’cult-scooter’ Vespa in its 50th anniversary. Not many products reach the goal of a fifty-year-life-span. The 50 years of Vespa are even more striking if one considers the condition and the period in which it came to existence. Many post-war inventions were forgotten when income rose and life standard improved. But Vespa instead, developed from a utility vehicle, into an international success, a ’cult-object’, which has given rise to the creation of associations and collector’s guilds world-wide. Text by Umberto Eco, Omar Calabrese, Lina Wertmuller, François Burkhardt, Maurizio Bertini, and many other celebrities.


Regina Maria Anzenberger Presents 22 Photographers

Regina Maria Anzenberger, Umberto Eco, Erich Lessing.
Edition Stemmle, 1997, ISBN: 3908162734; Hardcover $55.00. [
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This large book of photographs bills Umberto Eco as a “contributor.” Reviews or comments are welcome.

The Story of Time

Kristen Lippincott.
Contains and Essay by Umberto Eco
Merrell Holberton, 1999, ISBN 1858940729; Hardcover $45.00. [
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A new release for which Eco provides a Foreword. Here is the synopsis from Publisher’s Weekly:

Just in time for the new millennium comes this enormous, amply illustrated compilation of 23 essays on aspects of time from experts in various disciplines, among them history and historiography, music, geology, literary criticism, anthropology, religion and the history of engineering. The venerated art historian E.H. Gombrich contributes a compact “History of Anniversaries,” ...And Umberto Eco zips from St. Augustine to the modern philosophy of language to the Millennium Bug in a typically provocative foreword... The entire enjoyable and visually impressive volume is timed to coincide with an exhibit at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, where the year 2000 will officially begin.

The National Maritime Museum’s site contains a page on The Story of Time, detailing its purpose and outlining its contents.

Belief or Nonbelief?

Umberto Eco and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.
Translated by Minna Proctor.

1. Arcade Publishing 1999, ISBN 1559704977; Hardcover $17.95. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Arcade Publishing 2001, ISBN 1559705736; Paperback $9.95. [Browse/Purchase]

The English translation of 1996’s In cosa crede chi non crede?, this work is a collection of letters between Umberto Eco and Cardinal Martini of Milan. Four topics are discussed – the Apocalypse, where life begins, the ordination of women, and the origin of ethics. Porta Ludovica has recently reviewed this book, and you may read a full review here.

Conversations About the End of Time

Umberto Eco and others.

1. Fromm International 2000, ISBN 0880642173; Hardcover $26.00. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Fromm International 2001, ISBN 0880642653; Paperback $14.00. [Browse/Purchase]

A recent translation of a French collection. Here’s a brief review from Booklist:

As New Year’s Eve 2000 came and went with appropriate fanfare, but with possibilities of Y2K disaster looming over the celebrations, there could be no doubt of humanity’s utter fascination with the doomsayers and prophets predicting the end of time. Where does our fascination come from? How do non-Western cultures (for whom the year 2000 occurred several millennia ago) view time? These and other questions are answered by four scholars and cultural critics: Stephen Jay Gould, best-selling Harvard paleontologist; Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and professor of semiotics; Jean Delumeau, French historian; and Jean-Claude Carriere, playwright and critic. Each scholar is given a chapter. The format of question-and-answer is not too distracting and makes for a relatively comprehensible and quick read. Although there are some slightly awkward translations of idiomatic expressions, the insights that these well-rounded scholars provide are thought-provoking and revelatory. Despite originally being published in French two years ago, this look at popular millennialism and apocalypticism still appeals today.

Shadow of Reason: Exploring the Spiritual in European Art

Umberto Eco and others.
Charta, August 2000, ISBN 8881582880; Paperback $50.00. [
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A book on essays about European art, with an Eco contribution. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

Inspired by a work by Edvard Munch, Shadow of Reason presents over 100 works by the leading protagonists of modern contemporary art, from Edvard Munch to Rachel Whiteread, as well as Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Tony Cragg, Girogo de Chirico, Tacita Dean, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Giacometti, Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer, Yves Klein, Wolfgang Laib, Richard Long, Mario Merz, Piet Mondrian, Sigmar Polke, Sean Scully, Susana Solano, Antoni Tapies, and Gilberto Zorio, along with several others. The aim of this exhibit and its accompanying catalogue is to explore a specific European identity in the artistic landscape of the twentieth century. To this end, the works covered are organized thematically as opposed to historically, breaking out of the rigid parameters of traditional museum exhibits-and thereby subverting the continued rule of reason in the name of poetry and transcendence. The accompanying volume features essays – by authors like Umberto Eco – that oppose the role of traditional rationalist discourse in art.

Red Bar

Go To:

Works Main Page – Back to Works Main Page, where you will find the standard Porta Ludovica menu.

Fiction – Details and reviews of Eco’s three novels.

General Nonfiction – Collections of columns & general essays.

Language & Literary Criticism – Non-semiotic works about language, aesthetics, and literary criticism, including chapters and contributions.

Semiotics – All works on semiotics, including chapters and contributions.

Children’s Books – Books for children.

Italian Works – Works that have yet to be translated into English.

Bibliography – An expanding bibliography of Italian and English works.


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–Allen B. Ruch
6 November 2004