I think a book should be judged 10 years later, after reading and re-reading it.
Today, political events are nullified unless they’re on TV.
When one starts writing a book, especially a novel, even the humblest person in the world hopes to become Homer.
If people buy my books for vanity, I consider it a tax on idiocy.
My maternal grandmother – she was a compulsive reader. She had only been through five grades of elementary school, but she was a member of the municipal library, and she brought home two or three books a week for me. They could be dime novels or Balzac.
Homer’s work hits again and again on the topos of the inexpressible. People will always do that.
We are never racist against somebody who is very far away. I don’t know any racism against the Eskimos. To have a racist feeling, there must be an other who is slightly different from us – but is living close to us.
Narrativity presumes a special taste for plot. And this taste for plot was always very present in the Anglo-Saxon countries and that explains their high quality of detective novels.
If western culture is shown to be rich, it is because, even before the Enlightenment, it has tried to ‘dissolve’ harmful simplifications through inquiry and the critical mind.
Every European goes on the streets and sees medieval churches. Not if you live in Indianapolis. The most exciting letters I received were from people in places like that.
From lies to forgeries the step is not so long, and I have written technical essays on the logic of forgeries and on the influence of forgeries on history.
I think every professor and writer is in some way an exhibitionist because his or her normal activity is a theatrical one. When you give a lesson the situation is the same as writing a book. You have to capture the attention, the complicity of your audience.
After years of practice, I can walk into a bookstore and understand its layout in a few seconds. I can glance at the spine of a book and make a good guess at its content from a number of signs.
As an adolescent I wrote comic books, because I read lots of them, and fantasy novels set in Malaysia and Central Africa.
When I went from being an academic to being a member of the community of writers some of my former colleagues did look on me with a certain resentment.
But Italy is not an intellectual country. On the subway in Tokyo everybody reads. In Italy, they don’t. Don’t evaluate Italy from the fact that it produced Raphael and Michelangelo.
The most interesting letters I received about ‘The Name of the Rose’ were from people in the Midwest that maybe didn’t understand exactly, but wanted to understand more and who were excited by this picture of a world which was not their own.
It comes down to a question of attention: it’s difficult to use the Net distractedly, unlike the television or the radio.
Every European goes on the streets and sees medieval churches. Not if you live in Indianapolis.
At a certain moment, I decided to write a story. I had no more small children to tell them stories.
I don’t want to write a novel per year. I know that I need a break of one or two years. So maybe I invent some new, urgent activity so I don’t fall into the trap of starting a new novel.
If somebody writes a book and doesn’t care for the survival of that book, he’s an imbecile.
Libraries can take the place of God.
I was a fervent Catholic, and I belonged to the national organizations, even becoming one of the national leaders, until the age of 21, 22.
Does the novel have to deepen the psychology of its heroes? Certainly the modern novel does, but the ancient legends did not do the same. Oedipus’ psychology was deduced by Aeschylus or Freud, but the character is simply there, fixed in a pure and terribly disquieting state.
Creativity can only be anarchic, capitalist, Darwinian.
I started to work in television for three or four years, in 1954. There was one channel of television, black and white. But it could be entertaining and educational. During the evening they showed important plays, opera or Shakespeare’s tragedies.
The court jester had the right to say the most outrageous things to the king. Everything was permitted during carnival, even the songs that the Roman legionnaires would sing, calling Julius Caesar ‘queen,’ alluding, in a very transparent way, to his real, or presumed, homosexual escapades.
Poetry is not a matter of feelings, it is a matter of language. It is language which creates feelings.
It is clear that when you write a story that takes place in the past, you try to show what really happened in those times. But you are always moved by the suspicion that you are also showing something about our contemporary world.
I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.
There is nothing more difficult to define than an aphorism.
Human beings are religious animals.
The author may not interpret. But he must tell why and how he wrote his book.
I feel that I am a scholar who only with the left hand writes novels.
Our most noted satirists are true columnists, and their opinions can be worth more than any well-documented expose.
Certainly, light fiction exists and encompasses mysteries or second-class romance novels, books that are read on the beach, whose only aim is to entertain. These books are not concerned with style or creativity – instead they are successful because they are repetitive and follow a template that readers enjoy.
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.
The question of manuscript changes is very important for literary criticism, the psychology of creation and other aspects of the study of literature.
There are more books in the world than hours in which to read them. We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven’t read, that we haven’t had the time to read.
History is rich with adventurous men, long on charisma, with a highly developed instinct for their own interests, who have pursued personal power – bypassing parliaments and constitutions, distributing favours to their minions, and conflating their own desires with the interests of the community.
A secret is powerful when it is empty.
Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.
I don’t see the point of having 80 million people online if all they are doing in the end is talking to ghosts in the suburbs.
Media populism means appealing to people directly through media. A politician who can master the media can shape political affairs outside of parliament and even eliminate the mediation of parliament.
Perhaps I am not as wise as I like to think I am.
One can be a great poet and be politically stupid.
It is a myth of publishers that people want to read easy things.
To play the trumpet, you must train your lips for a long time. When I was twelve or thirteen I was a good player, but I lost the skill and now I play very badly. I do it every day even so. The reason is that I want to return to my childhood. For me, the trumpet is evidence of the sort of young man I was.
Conspiracies do exist. Probably in this moment in New York there is an economic group making a conspiracy in order to buy three banks. But if they succeed, they are immediately discovered.
Musical compositions can be very sad – Chopin – but you have the pleasure of this sadness. The cheap consolation is: you will be happy. The higher consolation is the pleasure and recognition of your unhappiness, the pleasure of having recognised that fate, destiny and life are such as they are and so you reach a higher form of consciousness.
I developed a passion for the Middle Ages the same way some people develop a passion for coconuts.
I have to admit that I only read ‘War and Peace’ when I was 40. But I knew the basics before then.
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.
The French, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish and the English have spent centuries killing each other.
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.
Young people do not watch television; they are on the Internet.
Entering a novel is like going on a climb in the mountains: You have to learn the rhythms of respiration – acquire the pace. Otherwise you stop right away.
Fear prophets 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.
The function of memory is not only to preserve, but also to throw away. If you remembered everything from your entire life, you would be sick.
The grandeur of Jerusalem is also… its problem.
I could work in the shower if I had plastic paper.
To read a paper book is another experience: you can do it on a ship, on the branch of a tree, on your bed, even if there is a blackout.
You die, but most of what you have accumulated will not be lost; you are leaving a message in a bottle.
My grandfather had a particularly important influence on my life, even though I didn’t visit him often, since he lived about three miles out of town and he died when I was six. He was remarkably curious about the world, and he read lots of books.
There is no great sport in having bullets flying about one in every direction, but I find they have less horror when among them than when in anticipation.
Better reality than a dream: if something is real, then it’s real and you’re not to blame.
It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion.
All the religious wars that have caused blood to be shed for centuries arise from passionate feelings and facile counter-positions, such as Us and Them, good and bad, white and black.
Dan Brown is a character from ‘Foucault’s Pendulum!’ I invented him. He shares my characters’ fascinations – the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist.
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.
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.
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 like nicotine because it excites my brain and helps me work.
Political satire is a serious thing. In democratic newspapers throughout the world there are daily cartoons that often are not even funny, as is the case especially in many English-language newspapers. Instead, they contain a political message, and the artist takes full responsibility.
The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it.
Many people who no longer go to church end up falling prey to superstition.
When men stop believing in God, it isn’t that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.
The mobile phone… is a tool for those whose professions require a fast response, such as doctors or plumbers.
There are more people than you think who want to have a challenging experience, in which they are obliged to reflect about the past.
We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death.
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.
There are books on our shelves we haven’t read and doubtless never will, that each of us has probably put to one side in the belief that we will read them later on, perhaps even in another life.
How does a person feel when looking at the sky? He thinks that he doesn’t have enough tongues to describe what he sees. Nevertheless, people have never stopping describing the sky, simply listing what they see.
As a scholar I am interested in the philosophy of language, semiotics, call it what you want, and one of the main features of the human language is the possibility of lying.
When someone has to intervene to defend the liberty of the press, that society is sick.
My father was an accountant and his father was a typographer.
With all of its defects, the global market makes war less likely, even between the U.S.A. and China.
What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible.
Every time that I write a novel I am convinced for at least two years that it is the last one, because a novel is like a child. It takes two years after its birth. You have to take care of it. It starts walking, and then speaking.
The United States needed a civil war to unite properly.
I love the secrecy of writing fiction. When I write a novel, I don’t tell anybody what I’m doing. I’m living in my private world. And it’s a great sensation.
Because of lies, we can produce and invent a possible world.
The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity.
Beauty is boring because it is predictable.
We invented the car, and it made it easier for us to crash and die. If I gave a car to my grandfather, he would die in five minutes, while I have grown up slowly to accept speed.
Our life is full of empty space.
The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb.