Publication Date

Spring 2015


College of Arts and Sciences




umberto, eco, foucault's pendulum, semiotics, philosophy, intentio auctoris, intentio lectoris, intentio operis, intent of the work, literary theory, hermetic, interpretation, peirce, derrida, rorty, james, pragmatism, deconstruction, historicism, interpretive drift, diabolicals, kabbala, abulafia, casaubon, rossetti, nietzsche, fakes, realism


History of Philosophy | Italian Literature | Metaphysics | Modern Literature | Other Philosophy | Philosophy of Language | Reading and Language


Umberto Eco’s 1988 novel Foucault’s Pendulum weaves together a wide range of philosophical and literary threads. Many of these threads find their other ends in Eco’s nonfiction works, which focus primarily on the question of interpretation and the source of meaning. The novel, which follows three distinctly overinterpretive characters as they descend into ruin, has been read by some as a retraction or parody of Eco’s own position. However, if Foucault’s Pendulum is indeed polemical, it must be taken as an argument against the mindset which Eco has termed the “hermetic”. Through an examination of his larger theoretical body, including its themes and intellectual heritage, it will be seen that Eco preserves his philosophical consistency across his fictive and non-fictive work.