Happy #LeapDay birthday to Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini, born #onthisday in 1792! Here’s a satirical print by Eugène Delacroix praising the originality, creativity and modernism of Rossini and of the Théatre Italien. Rossini is shown here with rolled sheets of music bursting from his pockets while supporting three singers as characters from his operas: Manuel del Populo Garcia (as Othello in 'Othello'), Madam Mainville-Fodor (as Rosina in 'The Barber of Seville') and Pellegrini (as Figaro in 'The Barber of Seville'). http://ow.ly/YRXD1
Famed Italian composer Ennio Morricone just won the Oscar for Best Original Score for his ...
Mary Magdalene (Hebrew: מרים המגדלית, original Greek: Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή), or Mary of Magdala and sometimes The Magdalene, is a figure in Christianity. Mary Magdalene travelled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Within the four Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles. During the Middle Ages she developed a reputation in Western Christianity as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman. This is not supported by the canonical gospels.
Umberto Eco: Exploring Imaginary Lands With One of Italy’s Masters of Fiction
The author Umberto Eco at his home in Milan. He has collected more than 50,000 books.
Published: November 27, 2013
Umberto Eco, 81, the Italian semiotician and globally successful
novelist, is an insatiable bibliophile. He has collected more than
50,000 books, and has a particular passion for volumes on imaginary,
occult or even bogus subjects.
“I am interested in fakes, in falsity,” he said in an interview. “I
don’t have Galileo, but I have Ptolemy, because he was wrong.”
Rifling through his library, Mr. Eco assembled “The Book of Legendary
Lands” (Rizzoli ex Libris, $45), an illustrated survey of mythic places —
Atlantis, El Dorado, Camelot — and the real imprint they’ve left on
The book is the latest of Mr. Eco’s brainy coffee table volumes; earlier
ones have collected art and ideas about beauty, ugliness and “the
infinity of lists.” Reached by telephone at his country house near
Rimini, Mr. Eco spoke about his latest “erudite divertissement” and the
decline of Italian culture (but not its crime fiction). Here is an
edited excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Your new book begins with a falsehood that has endured to the
present: That people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat.
A. Yes, and even cultivated people still repeat it to this day.
The official culture in the Middle Ages was absolutely convinced that
the earth was spherical and they accepted the Greek idea of the measure
of the equator. It’s just intellectual and cultural laziness. We are
also continuously told that during the Middle Ages they burned witches,
when the real burning of witches started in the Renaissance.
Q. What are you at work on now?
A. I am in turmoil over a very complex story. In the States,
they publish an enormous collection of books called “The Library of
Living Philosophers.” It started with John Dewey and Bertrand Russell
and the last book was about Richard Rorty. For mysterious reasons —
probably because there is nobody else is around — they chose me for the
next one. These are books of 1,500 pages. I am supposed to write 100
pages of philosophical autobiography. And there are 25 people, working
at this moment, each writing a paper on my philosophical activity. And I
am supposed to read all of them and to respond to each of them with at
least three or four pages each. I think I have two years to work on it,
and I am hoping to die before I have to do it.
Q. Are you skeptical about all the reports about the decline of Italian culture?
A. What decline? There is me! [Laughs] I think that nobody is
able to evaluate the period in which he or she lives. I think when Joyce
was publishing his first book there were a lot of people in Ireland
saying Irish culture is in complete decline. The one who will be
considered the greatest writer of the 21st century is in this moment
alive but we don’t recognize him.
Q. You’ve said that the detective novel is a barometer of narrative
production in any country. By that metric, where does Italy rank?
A. 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. It is absolutely
true that until recently there was nothing in Italian similar to Agatha
Christie or Ian Fleming, not to speak of Sherlock Holmes. But there is
something new. As in the Swedish culture, where there was an enormous
birth of crime stories, in Italy for the past 20 years, there’s been a
great production of good-quality detective stories. It’s a miracle —
suddenly the Italian culture discovered the art of the plot.
Q. What changed?
A. We had in the last 50 years many mysteries in our country
that probably excited the imagination young writers. Political and
criminal mysteries, certain unexplained links between 1970s terrorism
and political groups. There’s the case of Emanuela Orlandi, a girl
living in the Vatican in a family of officials of the Vatican state, who
disappeared 30 years ago. We still do not know if she is alive and why
she was kidnapped. The history of Italy is full of stories like that.
Q. You often talk about wanting your books to outlive you. Why are you so preoccupied with the survival of your work?
A. Every writer, every artist, every musician, scientist is
profoundly interested in the survival of his or her work after their
death. Otherwise they would be idiots. Do you believe that Raphael was
not interested in what happened to his paintings after his death? It’s
another side of the normal human desire to survive personally in some
way, and that is the root of every religion. That is essential if you
work on something creative to have this hope. Otherwise you are only a
person doing something to make money, to have women and Champagne. You
don’t love your work if you don’t hope so.
艾柯的寓所內佈滿了迷宮似的迴廊，迴廊上排放著高及屋頂的書架。據艾柯所言，這里共有三萬卷書，而在他的莊園裡還有另外兩萬卷。在這些書中，我看見有托勒密的科學論著、卡爾維諾的小說、關於索緒爾與喬伊斯的評論研究以及幾書架中世紀歷史書籍與神秘晦澀的手稿。艾柯的圖書館充滿生機，許多書因經常翻閱已經陳舊磨損。他閱讀速度飛快，記憶力驚人。在他的書房裡錯落放置著一些書架，上面擺放著他自己作品的全部譯本（阿拉伯語、芬蘭語、日語……在數了三十多種語言之後，我已然無法計數了）。艾柯飽含深情地向我一一指出他的作品，將我的注意力吸引到他一卷又一卷的著作上：從他早期的批評理論里程碑著作《開放的作品》（The Open Work ）到他的新著《醜的歷史》（On Ugliness ）。
最初，艾柯以中世紀研究和符號學學者的身份開始了他的事業。接著，他在48 歲時（1980 年）出版了小說《玫瑰之名》（The Name of the Rose ）。小說銷量逾一千萬冊，在世界出版界內引起了轟動。這位大學教授搖身一變成為了文學界的明星。記者們蜂擁而至，詢問他對文化的看法，敬服於他的博學，一時間，他被視為仍在世的最重要的意大利作家。自那以後的數年間，他陸續寫作了主題奇特的隨筆、學術論文和四部更為暢銷的小說，包括1988 年的《傅科擺》（Foucault ' s Pendulum）和2004 年的《羅安娜女王的神秘火焰》（The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana ）。
艾柯：這種立場我們稱之為解構主義。解構主義者們不僅假設所有的事物都是文本——甚至這張桌子也是文本——而且認為人們對每種文本都能加以無限的解釋，但是他們仍舊遵循著尼采開創的理念，尼采認為沒有事實，只有闡釋。相反，我繼承了查爾斯·桑德斯·皮爾士的思想，毫無疑問，他是美國最偉大的哲學家，也是符號學與闡釋學之父。他說過通過符號，我們可以闡釋事實。如果沒有事實而只餘闡釋，那還有什麼可闡釋的呢？這就是我在《闡釋的界限》（The Limits of Interpretation）一文中所論述的。
艾柯：我並不認為為了參與政治，一個知識分子必須加入某個政黨，或做更糟的事——只寫有關當代社會問題的作品。知識分子的政治參與度應與其他任何公民一樣。一名知識分子至多只能運用他的名望來支持某一事業。例如，如果有一份關於環境問題的聲明，那我的簽名可能對其有所幫助。所以我會用我的名望來支持公共契約的單一實例。問題是，知識分子只有在與未來相關的事情在上才能真正派上用場，而非解決當務之急。假設你身處一處著火的劇院，詩人肯定不應該爬上座椅來朗誦一篇詩篇，他應該和其他所有人一樣給消防員打電話。知識分子的作用在於事先告誡：“留意這個劇院因為它年久失修！”所以他的話語有著呼籲的預言功效。知識分子的作用在於告訴人們“我們應該那樣做”而非“我們必須現在行動！”——這是政治家的工作。如果托馬斯·摩爾（Thomas More ）烏托邦能夠成為現實，我敢肯定那會是一個斯大林主義的社會。