The Laboratorium (3d ser.)

A blog by James Grimmelmann

Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire afin
d'être violent et original dans vos oeuvres.

Umberto Eco, 1932 – 2016

2016 has not been a good year for the obituary page. Already we have lost Umberto Eco, Elizabeth Eisenstein, and Bob Elliott, each of whose works I encountered at just the right time in my life. I hope to write about Eisenstein and Elliott in due course, but I would like to remember Eco with a quotation from the end of The Island of the Day Before:

Finally, if from this story I wanted to produce a novel, I would demonstrate once again that it is impossible to write except by making a palimpsest of a rediscovered manuscript–without ever succeeding in eluding the Anxiety of Influence. Nor could I elude the childish curiosity of the reader, who would want to know if Roberto really wrote the pages on which I have dwelt for far too long. In all honesty, I would have to reply that it is not impossible that someone else wrote them, someone who wanted only to pretend to tell the truth. And thus I would lose all the effect of the novel: where, yes, you pretend to tell true things, but you must not admit seriously that you are pretending.