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Literature / Numero Zero

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Numero Zero is the seventh, and the final, novel by Umberto Eco, released in 2015. It tells the story of pseudo-investigative journalism in the late 1980s-early 1990s. The main character, a hack journalist named Colonna, is hired to write for a nonexistent newspaper that will be used to put pressure on high-level businessmen and politicians. One of his colleagues, Braggadocio, turns out to be a conspiracy theorist; he tells the main character a bizarre theory regarding Mussolini's death, CIA, the Propaganda Due lodge, and right- and left-wing terrorism during the Italian Years of Lead. Then some bizarre events start happening, and Colonna begins to wonder whether Braggadocio's story is actually true...


Provides Examples Of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Characters openly speculate about Maia Fresia being autistic, but it's never firmly established.
  • Author Tract: Against the overt public and private corruption of Italy's "Second Republic" period (1992-2018), which the novel is set immediately before.
  • Charm Point: Maia Fresia has many childlike mannerisms and a penchant for saying things that randomly pop into her head, out of context. One of her colleagues speculates that she has a mild form of autism; the protagonist says that he was "finding her autism, if that's what it was, more and more delightful".
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Maia is very much this (see Charm Point); interestingly, she combines this with a great sense of humor and a sharp wit.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Braggadocio.
  • Corrupt Church: Speculated on as part of the conspiracy theory involving Mussolini. Demonstrably true on a more mundane level (shady investments, etc.).
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  • Happy Ending: Unexpectedly for an Eco novel.
  • May–December Romance: Maia and Colonna; the latter is in his 50s, and the former is in her late 20s.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Foucault's Pendulum.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: Was there really a conspiracy regarding Mussolini? Was Braggadocio killed because of this, or did he just become the victim of some random mugger?


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