Umberto Eco: ‘Real literature is about losers’
In his only UK public appearance to mark publication of his new novel, Numero Zero, the Italian novelist explored the nature of conspiracies and why great characters are never successful
By Marcus Browne

“I am a philosopher; I write novels only on the weekends,” said Eco. “As a philosopher I am interested in truth. Since it is very difficult to decide what’s true or not I discovered that it’s easier to arrive at truth through the analysis of fakes.”

“I would say that 50% or more of public opinion is shaped by fakes. We are blackmailed by them,” he said. …

“I am not denying that conspiracies exist, but the real ones are discovered. The assassination of Julius Caesar was a conspiracy – it was a success, it was well known … the Gunpowder plot was a conspiracy. So the real conspiracies are always discovered. The powerful ones are the ones which do not exist; you cannot demonstrate that they are not there so they continue to flow in the public mind and they can nourish a lot of naïve people.”


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