83 Umberto Eco Quotes from the Italian Philosopher & Novelist

Umberto Eco (1932-2016) was a celebrated Italian literary critic, semiotician and novelist best known for “The Name of the Rose”.

With a Ph.D. from the University of Turin, he became a professor at the University of Bologna.

His early work “The Open Work” highlighted modern literature’s ambiguity, inviting deeper audience engagement.

He delved into semiotics with influential works like “A Theory of Semiotics”.


Among his diverse achievements, he wrote “How to Write a Thesis”, curated an exhibition at the Louvre and authored novels blending history and philosophy, such as “Foucault’s Pendulum”.

Eco’s legacy continued posthumously with a 2016 column collection publication.

Below are some of the most famous quotes by Umberto Eco.

Umberto Eco Quotes

What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. ~ Umberto Eco.


I write what I write. ~ Umberto Eco.

The good of a book lies in its being read. ~ Umberto Eco.


Love is wiser than wisdom. ~ Umberto Eco.

Every great thinker is someone else’s moron. ~ Umberto Eco.


A novel is a machine for generating interpretations. ~ Umberto Eco.

But laughter is weakness, corruption, the foolishness of our flesh. ~ Umberto Eco.

Not that the incredulous person doesn’t believe in anything. It’s just that he doesn’t believe in everything. ~ Umberto Eco.


I felt like poisoning a monk. ~ Umberto Eco.

If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teach them how to use television. ~ Umberto Eco.

A library’s ideal function is to be a little bit like a bouquiniste’s stall, a place for trouvailles. ~ Umberto Eco.


What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream? ~ Umberto Eco.

When you are on the dancefloor, there is nothing to do but dance. ~ Umberto Eco.

Best Quotes By Umberto Eco

A great problem of the internet is how to filter information, how to discard what is not relevant or what is silly and to keep only the important information. ~ Umberto Eco.

When men stop believing in God, it isn’t that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything. ~ Umberto Eco.

You can be obsessed by remorse all your life, not because you chose the wrong thing- you can always repent, atone : but because you never had the chance to prove to yourself that you would have chosen the right thing. ~ Umberto Eco.


A secret is powerful when it is empty. ~ Umberto Eco.

The problem with the Internet is that it gives you everything – reliable material and crazy material. So the problem becomes, how do you discriminate? ~ Umberto Eco.

Umberto Eco Quotes to Inspire You

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

I always assume that a good book is more intelligent than its author. It can say things that the writer is not aware of. ~ Umberto Eco.


All poets write bad poetry. Bad poets publish them, good poets burn them. ~ Umberto Eco.

If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you’re an idiot. ~ Umberto Eco.

It is sometimes hard to grasp the difference between identifying with one’s own roots, understanding people with other roots, and judging what is good or bad. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.

The Internet gives us everything and forces us to filter it not by the workings of culture, but with our own brains. This risks creating six billion separate encyclopedias, which would prevent any common understanding whatsoever. ~ Umberto Eco.


I write stories about conspiracies and paranoid characters while I am, in fact, a very skeptical person. ~ Umberto Eco.

Ugliness is more inventive than beauty. Beauty always follows certain camps. I think it’s more amusing – ugliness – than beauty. ~ Umberto Eco.

It is necessary to meditate early, and often, on the art of dying to succeed later in doing it properly just once. ~ Umberto Eco.

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… ~ Umberto Eco.

Quotes by Umberto Eco

When your true enemies are too strong, you have to choose weaker enemies. ~ Umberto Eco.


Translation is the art of failure. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.

National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same. ~ Umberto Eco.

The truth is an anagram of an anagram. ~ Umberto Eco.


We live for books. ~ Umberto Eco.

We like lists because we don’t want to die. ~ Umberto Eco.

True learning must not be content with ideas, which are, in fact, signs, but must discover things in their individual truth. ~ Umberto Eco.

The only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth. ~ Umberto Eco.

The wise man does not discriminate; he gathers all the shreds of light, from wherever they may come… ~ Umberto Eco.

Inspirational Umberto Eco Quotes

Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community… but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots. ~ Umberto Eco.


There is only one thing that you write for yourself, and that is a shopping list. ~ Umberto Eco.

A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection – not an invitation for hypnosis. ~ Umberto Eco.

I felt no passion, no jealousy, no nostalgia. I was hollow, clear-headed, clean, and as emotionless as an aluminum pot. ~ Umberto Eco.

Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.


We live for books. A sweet mission in this world dominated by disorder and decay. ~ Umberto Eco.

I was in a maze. No matter which way I turned, it was the wrong way. ~ Umberto Eco.

Beautiful Umberto Eco Quotes

The person who doesn’t read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. Reading is immortality backwards. ~ Umberto Eco.

I don’t know, maybe we’re always looking for the right place, maybe it’s within reach, but we don’t recognize it. Maybe to recognize it, we have to believe in it. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.


Beauty is boring because it is predictable. ~ Umberto Eco.

The more things you know, or pretend to know, the more powerful you are. It doesn’t matter if the things are true. What counts, remember, is to possess a secret. ~ Umberto Eco.

Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big. ~ Umberto Eco.

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. ~ Umberto Eco.

For the enemy to be recognized and feared, he has to be in your home or on your doorstep. ~ Umberto Eco.

Famous Umberto Eco Quotes

As the man said, for every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong. ~ Umberto Eco.


It is a myth of publishers that people want to read easy things. ~ Umberto Eco.

Listening doesn’t mean trying to understand. Anything, however trifling, may be of use one day. What matters is to know something that others don’t know you know. ~ Umberto Eco.

The beauty of the universe consists not only of unity in variety, but also of variety in unity. ~ Umberto Eco.

Books always speak of other books. ~ Umberto Eco.

There are four types: the cretin, the imbecile, the stupid and the mad. Normality is a balanced mixture of all four. ~ Umberto Eco.


A mystic is a hysteric who has met her confessor before her doctor. ~ Umberto Eco.

The light in her eyes was beyond description, yet it did not instill improper thoughts: it inspired a love tempered by awe, purifying the hearts it inflamed. ~ Umberto Eco.

Powerful Umberto Eco Quotes

You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day. ~ Umberto Eco.

I love the smell of book ink in the morning. ~ Umberto Eco.

I wrote a novel because I had a yen to do it. I believe this is sufficient reason to set out to tell a story. ~ Umberto Eco.

There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics. ~ Umberto Eco.


A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams. ~ Umberto Eco.

Never affirm, always allude: allusions are made to test the spirit and probe the heart. ~ Umberto Eco.

How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man! ~ Umberto Eco.

People are never so completely and enthusiastically evil as when they act out of religious conviction. ~ Umberto Eco.


To survive, you must tell stories. ~ Umberto Eco.

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

Great Umberto Eco Quotes

Being a professional philosopher is, I would say, feeling natural to think about small and great problems. It is the only pleasure. ~ Umberto Eco.

Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear. ~ Umberto Eco.

Hypotyposis is the rhetorical effect by which words succeed in rendering a visual scene. ~ Umberto Eco.

We were clever enough to turn a laundry list into poetry. ~ Umberto Eco.


I am a philosopher; I write novels only on the weekends. ~ Umberto Eco.

The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it. ~ Umberto Eco.

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. ~ Umberto Eco.

A transposable aphorism is a malaise of the urge to be witty, or in other words, a maxim that is untroubled by the fact that the opposite of what it says is equally true so long as it appears to be funny. ~ Umberto Eco.

So these were the 83 quotes from Umberto Eco.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Nina Simone quotes and Patrick Henry quotes and Ron Paul quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar