Sunday, February 21, 2016

R.I.P Umberto Eco and Harper Lee

The lit world lost two of its finest this week. Novelist and critic Umberto Eco, and novelist Harper Lee who made waves last year with her follow up to To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman:
Last year, after some 55 years of waiting, Lee decided it was time to publish a second novel, Go Set a Watchman. The book was initially billed by many as a sequel to Mockingbird, for it shared principal characters, reviving Atticus and Scout in a setting several years later than Mockingbird's main action. Yet, in many ways, it was less a sequel than a glimpse at what would have been, had Lee gone with her first impulses a writer rather than following her editor's advice and reworking her first drafts. For years, Hohoff had worked with Lee on radical revisions to the text, from 1957 to the book's eventual publication in 1960, according to The New York Times. "I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told," Lee said in a 2015 statement. -- NPR
While his first novel was not published until 1980, Eco said he had always had a “narrative impulse” and began writing stories at the age of 10 or 12. Born on 5 January 1932 in Alessandria, north-west Italy, Eco rejected his father’s wish that he study law and instead read philosophy and literature and the University of Turin. After finished his doctoral thesis, Eco lectured at his alma mater and during the same period worked at Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, as a cultural editor. He went on to develop his interest in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, and became a professor of the subject at the University of Bologna. His significant academic writings include On Beauty and the later On Ugliness, exploring how people’s perceptions are shaped through history. -- The Guardian