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Long before writer Dan Brown unleashed 'The Da Vinci Code' madness into the universe (the book that became a blockbuster hit and a Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks)... there was Umberto Eco - the legendary Italian philosopher, semiotician and writer.
You see, Umberto's best known novel, 'The Name of the Rose' became an international bestseller 20 years before 'The Da Vinci Code' - breaking new ground in 1980 by combining erudite ideas like metaphysics and theology with a page-turning murder mystery about poisoned monks. Set in an Italian monastery in the 14th century, the book was turned into popular movie starring Sean Connery and made Umberto one of the most famous intellectuals in the world.
Not bad considering it was the first novel he'd ever written! Since then he's written 5 more novels, including the bestsellers 'Foucault's Pendulum' and 'The Island of the Day Before'. Aside from being one of Italy's best known literary exports, Professor Eco is also the author of some 20 scholarly works, a major figure in the field of semiotics, and a well known leftwing voice in public debates about abortion, the mafia and corruption.
In fact, earlier this year at an anti-Berlusconi protest in Milan, he made some controversial remarks comparing Silvio Berlusconi to Adolph Hitler. Now, with his 6th novel 'The Prague Cemetery', Umberto Eco takes us back to the 19th century - another turbulent time in Italian (and French) history, blending outlandish facts with mesmerizing fiction in his exploration of the roots of anti-Semitism.