Numero Zero by Umberto Eco

Numero Zero, Umberto Eco

Numero Zero by Umberto Eco

Italian fiction

Original title – Numero Zero

Translator – Richard Dixon

Source – Library book

As I said the day after he died I had intend to review this as one of the man booker hopefuls, not knowing how the rules fully stand it still may be in the running. I enjoyed this and am sad that it will be his last novel as far as we know at the moment, as Eco always considered his novel-writing a hobby that he just did at the weekend as a diversion from his academic work.

Another topic was denial. We were still a newspaper without any readers, and so there was no challenge any of the news that we provided. But a newspaper is also judged by its capacity to handle denials, especially if it’s a newspaper they shows it doesn’t mind getting it’s hands dirty. Also, by training ourselves for the real denials when they came., we could invent letters from readers that we follow up with a denial. just to let the commendatore see what we are capable of.

this is so Borges a paper with out reader with readers letters hence the title Numero Zero.


Numero Zero is set in Italy at two times the first is a story of the end of the world war two the last few days of the tyrant IL Duce following his capture by the partizans, til he was executed and his body was buried in an unkown grave  or was it !.Now shoot forward too 1992 Collonna a hack is hired to write a ghost paper , a number of scandal written newspapers for a fake newspaper that is part of a great scheme b the owner of that paper , along the way he runs into a conspiracy freak. That tells him a whole tale of the 1945 Il duce story and that is they caught a double and that the real Duce was smuggled to Argentina by the Vatican. This is maybe to mad a story for the paper.There is many more twists and turns in this Classic eco tale.

“We’ll come back to Petaci. For now, let me just fill in my theory. A dictator must have a double, who knows how many times he had used him at official parades, seen always from a distance, to avoid assassination attempts. Now imagine that to enable the Duce to escape unhindered, from the moment he leaves for Como, Mussolini is no longer Mussolini but his double.”

“And where’s Mussolini ?”

THe double theory explained a very Borges Idea and also a classic piece of Eco.


This was classic Eco in a way. But also I said maybe it was Eco Lite, this was a short novel felt like a first draft of something that could have been more expansive in its scope. Although it had many echos to his earlier books in style and setting in Milan.  As ever he had many illusions to classic piece of Lit high and Low for me Collonna was very much in the hack crime writer of detective novels from the 1940’s . There is a large tip of the hat to Borges , that Alberto Manguel mentions in his guardian review ,where as Borges worked lit  gems in short stories I always felt Eco expand the style and sort of stories that  Borges used into a  longer novel form and this is now exception with two Motifs  the double and the detective story are both motifs you often find in Borges especially the double the mirror image! He had been called the thinking man Dan brown in recent years and I wonder if this was a clever nod to Mr brown as he has a vatican conspiracy in one of his books (I have seen the film but not read his books ). This would be a great Man booker book if still eligible from one of the most consistent writers of the last thirty years .A sad loss to World Lit, but at least I have his books to reread and add to the blog over next few years.

Have you a favourite book By Eco

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. seraillon
    Feb 25, 2016 @ 20:15:42

    Apparently Eco left another novel manuscript that will be published posthumously.

    I’m curious about the implicit attack on Silvio Berlusconi in this one – evident from the book’s conceit – and the degree to which this novel might be of special interest to readers immersed in Italian politics.


    • winstonsdad
      Feb 25, 2016 @ 20:17:47

      Has he did wonder struck me as someone who might have had something spare I know there is a but about the politics of the day my knowledge of Italian politics of the time isn’t enough to comment on it thou


  2. The Untranslated
    Feb 25, 2016 @ 21:38:52

    The reception of the book among the Italian readers was lukewarm. It was partly, I guess, because they knew very well all the political shenanigans described in the book. For me, as an outsider, the book was very informative and interesting, as I hadn’t heard before about all the corruption scandals and the NATO secret armies mentioned in the book. That being said, I fully agree that it is Eco lite. It looks like the beginning of a large novel that was hastily turned into a marketable novella. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.


  3. 1streading
    Feb 28, 2016 @ 19:06:42

    I enjoyed this, but more for what I learned – I can understand why in Italy, where much of the content was more widely known, it would have less impact.
    It would be great if there was another novel lying in wait!


  4. Max Cairnduff
    Mar 09, 2016 @ 17:00:10

    I have and plan to read this – I’m reasonably familiar with Italian politics of that period and frankly Eco lite sounds rather tempting to me. Island of the Day Before for me would have been better at half its length, perhaps even less.


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February 2016


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