Stephen Moss “Umberto Eco: 'People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged'” http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/27/umberto-eco-people-tired-simple-things
Il cimitero di Pragaには「形式への回帰」だという評があったらしい。最初の”Whether or not it is a return to form”はそのことを指している。ところで、最後のパラグラフで言及されているカール･ポパーのエッセイって何？
Whether or not it is a return to form, it is certainly a return to Eco's favourite subject – conspiracies. Simonini is presented as the originator of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the early 20th-century fake text that purported to detail a Jewish conspiracy aimed at world domination. Following its publication in Russia in 1903, it was widely read and believed, despite being shown to have been plagiarised from fictional sources. Hitler quoted it extensively, and even now its poison circulates. Eco pieces together what little is known of the origins of the text, and offers Simonini, an amoral Italian living in Paris, as the originator of the most toxic of all forgeries.
Conspiracies in general, and the Protocols in particular, have been recurrent themes in Eco's work, notably in his second novel, Foucault's Pendulum, where as a joke three nondescript book editors concoct a grand conspiracy that comes to take over their lives. Why do the Protocols preoccupy him? "As a scholar I am interested in the philosophy of language, semiotics, call it what you want, and one of the main features of the human language is the possibility of lying. A dog doesn't lie. When it barks, it means there is somebody outside." Animals do not lie; human beings do. "From lies to forgeries the step is not so long, and I have written technical essays on the logic of forgeries and on the influence of forgeries on history. The most famous and terrible of those forgeries is the Protocols."
Eco says it is not conspiracies that attract him, but the paranoia that allows them to flourish. "There are many small conspiracies, and most of them are exposed," he says. "But the paranoia of the universal conspiracy is more powerful because it is everlasting. You can never discover it because you don't know who is there. It is a psychological temptation of our species. Karl Popper wrote a beautiful essay on that, in which he said it started with Homer. Everything that happens in Troy was plotted the day before on the top of Olympus by the gods. It's a way not to feel responsible for something. That's why dictatorships use the notion of universal conspiracy as a weapon. For the first 10 years of my life I was educated by fascists at school, and they used a universal conspiracy – that you, the Englishman, the Jews and the capitalists were plotting against the poor Italian people. For Hitler it was the same. And Berlusconi has spent all his electoral campaigns speaking of the double conspiracy of the judges and the communists. There are no more communists around, even if you look for them with a lamp, but for Berlusconi they were there trying to take over."
"Berlusconi is a genius in communication," says Eco. "Otherwise he would never have become so rich. From the beginning he identified his target – middle-aged people who watch television. Young people do not watch television; they are on the internet. The people who support Berlusconi are 50- and 60-year-old ladies and retired people, who, in a country with an ageing population, make a powerful electoral force. So even some of his famous blunders may be blunders for me and you, but probably for the provincial 60-year-old lady or gentlemen they are not. His appeal was 'pay less taxes'. When the premier says you are right not to pay taxes, you are pleased."
How could a culture as intellectual and artistic as Italy's have elected such a buffoon? "Berlusconi was strongly anti-intellectual," he says, "and boasted that he hadn't read a novel for 20 years. There was a fear of the intellectual as a critical power, and in this sense there was a clash between Berlusconi and the intellectual world. But Italy is not an intellectual country. On the subway in Tokyo everybody reads. In Italy, they don't. Don't evaluate Italy from the fact that it produced Raphael and Michelangelo."
(…) "I think a book should be judged 10 years later, after reading and re-reading it. I was always defined as too erudite and philosophical, too difficult. Then I wrote a novel that is not erudite at all, that is written in plain language, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and among my novels it is the one that has sold the least. So probably I am writing for masochists. It's only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things. People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged."
Eco had a distinguished 30-year career in the academic world, with sidelines making cultural TV programmes and working as an editor in Milan, before The Name of the Rose. Why did he feel the need to add fiction to an already overloaded CV? In part, he says, it was accident. A friend asked him to write a short detective novel for a new series she was preparing. He told her that if he did, it would be set in the middle ages and would have to be 500 pages. That was too big for the proposed series, but the idea had been planted in his mind (or, as he prefers, his belly), and a publishing phenomenon was born. Even without her intervention, however, he implies that he would eventually have written novels. The notion of poisoning a monk appealed to him, and he already had a list of monkish names filed away in his drawer for possible use.
"I have always had a narrative impulse," he says. "I wrote stories and beginnings of novels at the age of 10 or 12. I then satisfied my taste for narrative by writing essays. All my researches have the structure of a whodunit." One of his professors pointed out that even his doctoral thesis on Thomas Aquinas had that structure, with the conclusion teasingly arrived at after a long process of divination. "I recognised he was right, and that I was right, and that research must be done this way. I satisfied my narrative impulse when my kids were small by telling them stories, and then when they were grown up I felt the need to write fiction. It happened to me as it happens to people when they fall in love. 'Why did you fall in love that day, that month, with that person? Are you crazy? Why?' You don't know. It happens."
It is claimed that he called the film of The Name of the Rose a travesty, but that seems unlikely. He says only that a film cannot do everything a book can. "A book like this is a club sandwich, with turkey, salami, tomato, cheese, lettuce. And the movie is obliged to choose only the lettuce or the cheese, eliminating everything else – the theological side, the political side. It's a nice movie. I was told that a girl entered a bookstore and seeing the books said: 'Oh, they have already made a book out of it.'" More laughter.
It is often said that he constructs his novels out of other books. The Prague Cemetery both explores the 19th-century novels that were plagiarised in the Protocols, and is structured like one. Alexandre Dumas is the presiding spirit, in particular his novel Joseph Balsamo, and intertextuality the name of Eco's fictional game. He has adored books since he was a child, growing up in the town of Alessandria in northern Italy with not very bookish "petit bourgeois" parents but a grandmother who loved reading. He read voraciously and still does. His two libraries, at the homes he shares with his German-born wife Renate Ramge in Milan and Rimini, contain 50,000 books, including 1,200 rare titles.
He has called books "the corridors of the mind" and recently co-wrote an extended love letter to the printed text called This is Not the End of the Book. But that does not make him a digital counter-revolutionary. Indeed, to save having to carry a bag full of books, on this trip he has instead brought along an iPad with 30 titles downloaded. He nevertheless stands by his contention that this is not the end of the book. Reading devices are fine for long journeys and have advantages for reference books, but committed readers will always crave physicality – "not just Peter Pan but my Peter Pan", as he puts it.
*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060813/1155440006 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070305/1173067919 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070307/1173234120 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070315/1173952265 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091001/1254374520 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20101030/1288370909 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20101223/1293085550 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110715/1310706171