The novelist and cultural theorist Umberto Eco has died at his home, according to a statement his family gave to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. He was 84.

Eco was best known in the U.S. for his literary debut, the historical novel The Name of the Rose. The book dealt with a murder investigation — and a literary conspiracy with far-reaching implications — at a 14th century Italian monastery

First published in English in 1983, it sold millions of copies around the world and was made into a successful 1986 movie starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

Eco followed that up with Foucault’s Pendulum (1988), which also dealt with a literary conspiracy that turned deadly — this time one invented by modern-day editors about the medieval Knights Templar. Eco later joked that he had “invented Dan Brown” — author of the Da Vinci Code — in that book. Read more…

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Umberto Eco, literary giant, dead at 84