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Umberto Eco catapulted to global literary fame three decades ago with "The Name of the Rose," a novel in which professorial erudition underpinned a medieval thriller that sold some 30 million copies in more than 40 languages.Eco's contribution to Italian literature was lauded by political and cultural figures alike.Author of books ranging from novels to scholarly tomes to essay collections, Eco was fascinated with the obscure and the mundane, and his books were both engaging narratives and philosophical and intellectual exercises.Ideas, Eco said, are the only imperishable things.Recent works include "From the Tree to the Labyrinth," an essay on semiology and language published in 2007, and "Turning Back the Clock," a collection of essays on various subjects, ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to anti-Semitism to staunch criticism of Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government in Italy.His last novel, "Numero Zero," came out last year. It recalled a political scandal from the 1990s that helped lead to Berlusconi's rise, focusing on the role of the media as what Eco called "instruments to delegitimize the enemy". His last book, a collection of essays, is set to be published next week by a new house he helped found with other authors last year.
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