If there is a worldwide competition to debate, discuss, analyse and ponder about the most wide-ranging topics—from whether the internet will kill the book to how much garlic should be there in pasta sauce—where the participants name names, quote quotes, give anecdotes from history, all of this without Googling, then This Is Not The End Of The Book, a conversation between Umberto Eco, who passed away last week, and French scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carriere should win hands down. It’s an encyclopaedic chat about “life, the universe and everything” and to all fans of Eco’s novels, it’s a revelation how much more he was—historian, mathematician, scientist, sociologist, psychologist, philosopher, epicure, musician, teacher—someone who is curious about everything. The Name of The Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Prague Cemetery, to name a few of the forty odd novels and essay collections he wrote on a wide-ranging topics, took him to international fame. Truly, Eco was far more talented than a mere writer of stories. And yes, he firmly believed that the internet can’t kill the book.
A Finch Sings On
The mockingbird too flew off last week. Harper Lee must be the most loved and adored two-book author, the books coming some 55 years apart. To Kill a Mockingbird, bristling with racial tension in Alabama, created a sensation when it came out in 1960 and is taught in American schools. Then, after all those years, Go Set A Watchman was published, with many characters from the earlier book, and was the top selling fiction of 2015. There is a quote of Lee which is especially relevant now: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”