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Umberto Eco was born on 5th of January 1932 in the city of Alessandria, in northern Italy. Till his death, on 19th of February 2016, he was constantly writing essays, anthologies, articles for newspapers and novels. He was one of the most important philosophers of his era and his contribution to the field of semiotics is unique. However, for the sake of this article, we will focus only on his seven novels, ranking them from worst to best. Let’s start:

Number 7: Numero Zero (2015)

Published only one year before his death, “Numero Zero” is one of the books that do not show Eco’s great achievements as a novelist. Some key elements such as the historical flashbacks and the way Eco comments on them, can be found on this novel, but still, it is not as impressive as on his previous work.

Number 6: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (2004)

An old man’s episodic memory creates an interesting mix of reality and imagination. History and pop culture create a confusing intertextuality, although it can become too confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the topics. But, yet, not one of Eco’s great examples in literature.

Number 5: The Prague Cemetery (2011)

Along with “Numero Zero“, “The Prague Cemetery” is probably one of the ”easiest” Eco’s books to start with. In other rankings, you may find it higher on the lists, and that’s not wrong. “The Prague Cemetery” travels the reader throughout time (different centuries) and space (around Europe). It has an intriguing plot with some of Eco’s qualities still on, even if he published this book at the age of 79 years old.

Number 4: The Island of the Day Before (1994)

Umberto Eco’s third novel was highly anticipated by the literature world. After his two masterpieces, “The Name of the Rose” and “Foucault’s Pendulum“, the reactions for “The Island of the Day Before” were mixed. History and fantasy become one for one more time. The conception of a lost memory and mixed historical and fictional events, may confuse the reader. However, Eco’s ability to entertain, is always there

Number 3: Baudolino (2000)

Crusades, long journeys and fantastic adventures. These imaginary events promise a great time to the reader. Umberto Eco creates a dreamy world where everything is possible. Using real-life events from the medieval times, Eco makes his protagonist search of a fabled land. In this trip, Baudolino will make great friends and enemies. A fascinating journey on a Medieval fairy tale.

Number 2: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)

A masterful exposition of complex conspiracy theories. A book where you need to pay attention even in the smaller details. A mix between past and present. Kabbalah, alchemy and Medieval times are the key references to this chaotic, yet beautiful, novel. Is it hard for someone who is not familiar with these topics? Definitely. However, it is worth a try, especially if you can stop your reading and check online some of the referred names and places.

Number 1: The Name of the Rose (1980)

It was obvious that “The Name of the Rose” would be our number 1. And for so many reasons. To begin with, it is one of the best-selling books ever, with over 50 million copies. Moreover, its unique plot, a murder in a 14th century monastery in Italy. Furthermore, the outstanding use of semiotics, biblical analysis and medieval studies. In addition to these, the great suspense throughout the book while the mystery thickens. Finally, the great research that Umberto Eco did all the previous years in order to assemble all the techniques and themes he used in order to give a concrete and magnificent masterpiece.

P.S You should also check Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film adaptation in 1986, with Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

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