"When it comes to the debt crisis," says Eco, "and I'm speaking as someone who doesn't understand anything about the economy, we must remember that it is culture, not war, that cements our [European] identity. The French, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish and the English have spent centuries killing each other. Today, we've been at peace for 70 years and no one realises how amazing that is any more. Indeed, the very idea of a war between Spain and France, or Italy and Germany, provokes hilarity. The United States needed a civil war to unite properly. I hope that culture and the [European] market will do the same for us."It is hard to believe that he is 80. In addition to The Name of the Rose, which is in one sense about a library, and Foucault's Pendulum, his delightful send-up of the occult undergound, (years before The Da Vinci Code), I remember him for his brilliant essays, Dreaming of the Middle Ages and Living in the New Middle Ages, in Travels in Hyper-Reality, (1986). It is time to read them again.
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