Italy mourns Umberto Eco, literary genius and «immense humanist»

Rome, Jumada I 11, 1437, Feb 20, 2016, SPA — Italy was on Saturday mourning the death of Umberto Eco, renowned writer and public intellectual known globally for the medieval mystery novel, The Name of the Rose. He was 84, dpa reported.
Often listed as a contender for a Nobel Literature Prize, he was one of Europe’s leading intellectual lights.
Eco passed away late Friday at home in central Milan, Italian media reported Saturday, citing his family.
“His essays and novels brought great prestige to Italy and enriched culture everywhere,” President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement that was echoed in eulogies by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and other dignitaries.
French President Francois Hollande saluted the “immense humanist” who was “interested in everything because he thought that everything is meaningful in a society,” “at ease with medieval history as he was with comics.”
Gianni Coscia, a jazz accordionist who was a life-long friend, told the La Stampa newspaper that Eco had been suffering from cancer for two years.
“Nobody thought that his end would have come so soon,” Coscia said.
Eco’s condition deteriorated this week, and after refusing hospitalization, he met “a quick but not unexpected end, surrounded by his wife and two children,” his editor Mario Andreose told reporters.
Born on January 5, 1932, Eco was the son of a shopkeeper from Alessandria in northern Italy. He worked in television, publishing and academia before a remarkable mid-life career turn brought by the 1980 release of The Name of The Rose.
21:35 LOCAL TIME 18:35 GMT