Umberto Eco (1932 - 2016) was an Italian medieval historian, semiotician (semiotics: the study of signs and signification[[note]]If Creator/DanBrown's fictional discipline of "symbology" were real, it would fall within the field of semiotics.[[/note]]), and philosopher. Outside academia, he is best known as a novelist, particularly his debut novel, ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose'', which was made into a film starring Creator/SeanConnery.

Because of his background, his works tend to avoid SmallReferencePools and ViewersAreMorons--only to go right through to the other side, invoking ViewersAreGeniuses instead. His novels abound in [[BilingualBonus language games]], [[ShownTheirWork meticulously researched]] history and more than a little philosophizing. Basically, he's the polar opposite of Creator/DanBrown: a knowledgeable and skillful writer whose fiction is well researched, and full of genuine historical, narrative, and cultural intrigue, but who never [[DanBrowned pretends that his novels are anything more]] than stimulating intellectual entertainment. In fact, he once humorously mused, in [[ The Paris Review]], that Dan Brown might as well have stepped out the pages of his book ''Foucault's Pendulum''.

He listed {{Western}} tropes in a 1975 comic essay "How to Play Indians". He also wrote an essay in 1984 about tropes called "Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage", which ends with what might as well have been to a reference to Wiki/TVTropes, describing a possible future in which [[ViewersAreGeniuses viewers and artists]] are all equally aware of the universe of tropes and spend their time recognizing them and using them to communicate.[[note]]Après nous, le déluge.[[/note]]

He died in 2016 at the age of 84.
!!List of Novels
* ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose''
* ''Literature/FoucaultsPendulum''
* ''The Island of the Day Before''
* ''Literature/{{Baudolino}}''
* ''Literature/TheMysteriousFlameOfQueenLoana''
* ''Literature/ThePragueCemetery''
* ''Literature/NumeroZero''

!!List of non-fiction
* ''Turning Back the Clock'', a collection of essays, mostly dealing with current events of TheNoughties.

!!List of children's books
* ''The Bomb and the General''
* ''The Three Astronauts''
* ''The Gnomes of Gnu''

!!Tropes pertaining to his work in general

* BerserkButton: Apparently, a sure-fire way of getting thrown out of his lectures was to quote his own works to him.
* BilingualBonus: In some novels, it's almost necessary to understand three or four languages.
* {{Bookworm}}: Had a ''50,000'' volume library.
* CoolOldGuy
* DirectLineToTheAuthor: As a postmodernist, he had a thing for the thin, blurry line between historical documents and outright fiction. Hence, some of his works purport to be genuine, yet unrecorded history:
** ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose'' is presented as the recently uncovered manuscript of Adso of Melk, Eco's "Italian [translation] of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth-century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German monk". Needless to say, none of this is true.
** ''The Island of the Day Before'' is him commenting on a mysterious manuscript written by Roberto della Griva recovered from the InUniverse lost ship ''The Daphne''.
* EverythingsBetterWithPlatypi: His essay Kant and the Platypus, despite acknowledging that Kant has nothing to do with the platypus.
* UsefulNotes/InternationalDateLine: Plays a big role in ''The Island of the Day Before'', where the protagonist believes he is stuck near one side of it.
* {{Irony}}:
** He has a good explanation in his comment for ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose''. Nowadays, a man who loves a well-read woman can't simply tell her "I love you more than my life", because he knows (and she knows, and [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow he knows she knows, and she knows he knows she knows...]]) that these words have been overused by Liala (Italian author of Silly Love Novels). That's why he'll say instead: "As Liala would say, 'I love you more than my life'." It's ironic because we live in times where innocence has been lost, but it's still a way to talk about love.
** He spent his entire academic career studying the effect of 'fake news' and 'alternative facts' on the individual and society at large, only to pass away in February of 2016, less than a year before Donald Trump's presidency, during which concepts like those entered mainstream political discussion.
* LockedRoomMystery: Eco's fascinated with this trope, and it shows up as a major or minor plot point in pretty much [[OnceAnEpisode every novel he's written]].
* UsefulNotes/TheLongitudeProblem: In ''The Island of the Day Before''. It contains a number of different attempts to solve the longitude problem, including one that uses SympatheticMagic (the theory is that a wounded dog is taken on the ship; the sympathetic magic is performed on the dog every night at midnight in Paris; by watching the dog's reaction and noting the local time, you can figure out your longitude much as with the "clock" method).
* NeverHeardThatOneBefore: In one essay in ''How To Travel With A Salmon'', he writes how many times he was told puns based one the similarity of his name and the word "echo". He states that the reason for this is that people who have an idea don't realize that other people already must have thought of that.
* {{Omniglot}}: Eco himself.
* {{Postmodernism}}: In the critical, academic sense.
* PretenderDiss: When asked if he considers Creator/DanBrown his literary heir, he once responded that the difference is that while he himself writes ''about'' conspiracy theories, Dan Brown simply repeats them - "as such, he's probably not my heir, but maybe my bastard."
* RealityRetcon:
** ''Numero Zero'': Involves shady plots during the Years of Lead, including the Masonic "Black" Lodge Propaganda Due, right- and left-wing terrorists, the CIA, the papacy, and sensationalist journalism.
* ShownTheirWork: His ''novels'' come with footnotes, glossaries and bibliographies.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Occasional examples are found in his non-fiction works.
* WordSaladTitle: Prefers titles of this nature.
* YouAreWhatYouHate: Could be the case with Eco and occultism. While he savagely criticizes the occultists and conspiracy theorists, he himself shows interest and expert knowledge in such matters (most of his works feature this to some extent, especially Foucault's Pendulum).