The delightful art of reading

I have just got through a thin little volume, Umberto Eco´s "PS till Rosens namn" (Eng. "Postscript to The Name of the Rose"). Now, "The Name of the Rose" is one of my favourite books of all time and Eco has written some of my other favourites, like "Foucault´s Pendulum" and "Baudolino". I own (I just discovered) "The Island of the Day Before" but I haven´t read it! Gross negligence on my part!

Some parts of this book I only looked at. Eco is an academic (philosophy and literature) and he often refers to Italian classics that I have no idea what they are and honestly, no real interest in reading. My loss perhaps, but life is short and literature is plentiful. That said, he is not really difficult to understand, he writes with humour and ease and some of the things he has to say about his novel are fundamental to writing. And this is about how he wrote "The Name of the Rose", not about how it should be read.

Actually, he refers to a lot of his reader´s comments and delights in every new way the story is interpreted. For instance, a 17-year-old boy said he was completely lost in all the theological dispute (there is a lot of it!), but for him, it became a literary extension of the maze theme. It hightened his reading experience of being trapped in that labyrinth of a library. Probably it did for many other readers ("naive", Eco calls them, with no hint of contempt whatsoever), who would not have been able to put it into words though. And perhaps that is why Eco´s books are so very re-readable. You can read them at many levels and in many ways and get something new from them every time.

Eco is one of those authors who makes their readers feel smart, and smarter for having read him. He is hilariously funny, extremely learned, offers a good story with width and depth and when I try to describe him words like delightful and enchanting come to me. He claims to write only for the joy of it, for fun. I believe him. There is no angst here, no tortured artist. He seems to be a perfect match of wise and learned man and giggly child. At least as an author. And I recommend his books to anyone, really. I believe any reader (at least over fifteen) could have great fun with Umberto Eco. 

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