Umberto Eco Quotes (75 Quotes)


    He had prepared his death much earlier, in his imagination, unaware that his imagination, more creative than he, was planning the reality of that death.

    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.


    I did not know then what Brother William was seeking, and to tell the truth, I still do not know today, and I presume he himself did not know, moved as he was solely by the desire for truth, and by the suspicion - which I could see he always harbored - that the truth was not what was appearing to him at any given moment.

    I believe all sin, love, glory are this: when you slide down the knotted sheets, escaping from Gestapo headquarters, and she hugs you, there, suspended, and she whispers that she's always dreamed of you. The rest is just sex, copulation, the perpetuation of the vile species.


    Monsters exist because they are part of the divine plan, and in the horrible features of those same monsters the power of the creator is revealed.

    I didn't know how to define it -- hermetic skepticism? liturgical cynicism? -- this higher disbelief that led him to acknowledge the dignity of all the superstitions he scorned.

    On sober reflection, I find few reasons for publishing my Italian version of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German Monk toward the end of the fourteenth century...First of all, what style should I employ?

    I should be at peace. I have understood. Don't some say that peace comes when you understand? I have understood. I should be at peace. Who said that peace derives from the contemplation of order, order understood, enjoyed, realized without residuum, in joy and truimph, the end of effort? All is clear, limpid; the eye rests on the whole and on the parts and sees how the parts have conspired to make the whole; it perceives the center where the lymph flows, the breath, the root of the whys....

    Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.

    I was becoming addicted, Diotallevi was becoming corrupted, Belbo was becoming converted. But all of us were slowly losing that intellectual light that allows you always to tell the similar from the identical, the metaphorical from the real.

    The faith a movement proclaims doesn't count: what counts is the hope it offers. All heresies are the banner of a reality, an exclusion. Scratch the heresy and you will find the leper. Every battle against heresy wants only this: to keep the leper as he is.

    Jacopo Belbo didn't understand that he had had his moment and that it would have to be enough for him, for all his life. Not recognizing it, he spent the rest of his days seeking something else, until he damned himself.


    The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.

    The monkish vows keep us far from that sink of vice that is the female body, but often they bring us close to other errors. Can I finally hide from myself the fact that even today my old age is still stirred by the noonday demon when my eyes, in choir, happen to linger on the beardless face of a novice, pure and fresh as a maiden's?


    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.

    What did I really think fifteen years ago? A nonbeliever, I felt guilty in the midst of all those believers. And since it seemed to me that they were in the right, I decided to believe, as you might decide to take an aspirin: It can't hurt and you might get better.

    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.


    Whoever reflects on four things I would be better if he were never born: that which is above, that which is below, that which is before, that which is after.

    This, in fact, is the power of the imagination, which, combining the memory of gold with that of the mountain, can compose the idea of a golden mountain.


    A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks.


    But if there is no cosmic Plan? What a mockery, to live in exile when no one sent you there. Exile from a place, moreover, that does not exist.

    After so many years even the fire of passion dies, and with it what was believed the light of the truth. Who of us is able to say now whether Hector or Achilles was right, Agamemnon or Priam, when they fought over the beauty of a woman who is now dust and ashes?

    We stopped to browse in the cases, and now that William - with his new glasses on his nose - could linger and read the books, at every title he discovered he let out exclamations of happiness, either because he knew the work, or because he had been seeking it for a long time, or finally because he had never heard it mentioned and was highly excited and titillated. In short, for him every book was like a fabulous animal that he was meeting in a strange land.

    But this lump does not absolve me, because I got it through heedlessness, not though courage. I run my tongue over my lip and what do I do? I write. But bad literature brings no redemption.

    And so I fell devoutly asleep and slept a long time, because young people seem to need sleep more than the old, who have already slept so much and are preparing to sleep for all eternity.

    What is love? There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss.

    Each of us is sometimes a cretin, a fool, a moron, or a lunatic. A normal person is just a reasonable mix of these components, these four ideal types.

    And when someone suggests you believe in a proposition, you must first examine it to see whether it is acceptable, because our reason was created by God, and whatever pleases our reason can but please divine reason, of which, for that matter, we know only what we infer from the processes of our own reason by analogy and often by negation.


    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...

    I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.

    A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.

    There is a constant in the average American imagination and taste, for which the past must be preserved and celebrated in full-scale authentic copy a philosophy of immortality as duplication. It dominates the relation with the self, with the past, not infrequently with the present, always with History and, even, with the European tradition.

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

    Better reality than a dream: if something is real, then it's real and you're not to blame.

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


    The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited but with irony, not innocently. I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, ''I love you madly,'' because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that 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.''

    Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.

    Terrorism is a biological consequence of the multinationals, just as a day of fever is the reasonable price of an effective vaccine ... The conflict is between great powers, not between demons and heroes. Unhappily, therefore, is the nation that finds the 'heroes' underfoot, especially if they still think in religious terms and involve the population in their bloody ascent to an uninhabited paradise.

    I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us.

    'You cannot believe what you are saying.' 'Well, no. Hardly ever. But the philosopher is like the poet. The latter composes ideal letters for an ideal nymph, only to plumb with his words the depths of passion. The philosopher tests the coldness of his gaze, to see how far he can undermine the fortress of bigotry.'

    A narrator should not supply interpretations of his work otherwise he would have not written a novel, which is a machine for generating interpretations.

    'But why doesn't the Gospel ever say that Christ laughed' I asked, for no good reason. 'Is Jorge right' 'Legions of scholars have wondered whether Christ laughed. The question doesn't interest me much. I believe he never laughed, because, omniscient as the son of God had to be, he knew how we Christians would behave....'


    More Umberto Eco Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Truth - World - Books - Time - God - Facts - Success - Imagination & Visualization - Sign & Symbol - Love - Sense & Perception - Man - Error & Mistake - Beauty - Planning - Happiness - Past - Sin - Hope - View All Umberto Eco Quotations

    More Umberto Eco Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Foucault's Pendulum
    - The Name of the Rose

    Related Authors


    V. S. Naipaul - Thomas Wolfe - Thomas Hardy - Salman Rushdie - Mario Puzo - Jack Higgins - J. R. R. Tolkien - J. D. Salinger - Elizabeth Gilbert - Alexander Solzehnitsyn


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