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The Future of the Book From the July 1994 symposium "The Future of the Book," held at the

University of San Marino. This essay is also found in The Future of the Book (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1997). Edited by Geoffrey Nunberg, the volume collects twelve papers from the symposium. Since my arrival at the symposium on the future of the book I have been expecting somebody to quote "Ceci tuera cela." Both Duguid and Nunberg have obliged me. The quotation is not irrelevant to our topic. As you no doubt remember, in Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo, comparing a book with his old cathedral, says: "Ceci tuera cela" (The book will kill the cathedral, the alphabet will kill images). McLuhan, comparing a Manhattan discotheque to the Gutenberg Galaxy, said "Ceci tuera cela." One of the main concerns of this symposium has certainly been that ceci (the computer) tuera cela (the book). We know enough about cela (the book), but it is uncertain what is meant by ceci (computer). An instrument by which a lot of communication will be provided more and more by icons? An instrument on which you can write and read without needing a paperlike support? A medium through which it will be possible to have unheard-of hypertextual experiences? None of these definitions is aufficient to characterize the computer as such. First, visual communication is more overwhelming in TV, cinema, and advertising than in computers, which are also, and eminently, alphabetic tools. Second, as Nunberg has suggested, the computer "creates new modes of production and diffusion of printed documents." And third, as Simone has reminded us, some sort of hypertextual experience (at least in the sense of text that doesn't have to be read in a linear way and as a finished message) existed in other historical periods, and Joyce (the living one) is here to prove that Joyce (the dead and everlasting one) gave us with Finnegans Wake a good example of hypertextual experience. The idea that something will kill something else is a very ancient one, and came certainly before Hugo and before the late medieval fears of Frollo. According to Plato (in the Phaedrus) Theut, or Hermes, the alleged inventor of writing, presents his invention to the pharaoh Thamus, praising his new technique that will allow human beings to remember what they would otherwise forget. But the pharaoh is not so satisfied. My skillful Theut, he says, memory is a great gift that ought to be kept alive by training it continuously. With your invention people will not be obliged any longer to train memory. They will remember things not because of an internal effort, but by mere virtue of an external device. We can understand the pharaoh's worry. Writing, as any other new technological device, would have made torpid the human power that it replaced and reinforced -- just as cars made us less able to walk. Writing was dangerous because it decreased the powers of mind by offering human beings a petrified soul, a caricature of mind, a vegetal memory. Plato's text is ironical, naturally. Plato was writing down his argument against writing. But he was pretending that his discourse was related by Socrates, who did not write (it seems academically obvious that he perished because he did not publish). Therefore Plato was expressing a fear that still survived in his day. Thinking is an internal affair; the real thinker would not allow books to think instead of him. Nowadays, nobody shares these fears, for two very simple reasons. First of all, we know that books are not ways of making somebody else think in our place; on the contrary they are machines that provoke further thoughts. Only after the invention of writing was it possible to write such a masterpiece on spontaneous memory as Proust's Recherche du temps perdu. Second, if once upon a time people needed to train their memory in order to remember things, after the invention of writing they had also to train their memory in order to remember books. Books challenge and improve memory; they do not narcotize it. One is entitled to speculate about that old debate every time one meets a new communication tool which pretends or seems to substitute for books. In the course of this symposium, under the rubric of "the future of the book," the following different items have been discussed, and not all of them were concerned with books.

1. Images versus alphabetic culture Our contemporary culture is not specifically image oriented. Take for instance Greek or medieval culture: at those times literacy was reserved to a restricted elite and most people were educated, informed, persuaded (religiously, politically, ethically) though images. Even USA Today, cited by Bolter, represents a balanced mixture of icons and letters, if we compare it with a Biblia Pauperum. We can complain that a lot of people spend their day watching TV and never read a book or a newspaper, and this is certainly a social and educational problem, but frequently we forget that the same people, a few centuries ago, were watching at most a few standard images and were totally illiterate. We are frequently misled by a "mass media criticism of mass media" which is superficial and regularly belated. Mass media are still repeating that our historical period is and will be more and more dominated by images. That was the first McLuhan fallacy, and mass media people have read McLuhan too late. The present and the forthcoming young generation is and will be a computer-oriented generation. The main feature of a computer screen is that it hosts and displays more alphabetic letters than images. The new generation will be alphabetic and not image oriented. We are coming back to the Gutenberg Galaxy again, and I am sure that if McLuhan had survived until the Apple rush to the Silicon Valley, he would have acknowledged this portentous event. Moreover, the new generation is trained to read at an incredible speed. An old-fashioned university professor is today incapable of reading a computer screen at the same speed as a teenager. These same teenagers, if by chance they want to program their own home computer, must know, or learn, logical procedures and algorithms, and must type words and numbers on a keyboard, at a great speed. In the course of the eighties some worried and worrying reports have been published in the United States on the decline of literacy. One of the reasons for the last Wall Street crash (which sealed the end of the Reagan era) was, according to many observers, not only the exaggerated confidence in computers but also the fact that none of the yuppies who were controlling the stock market knew enough about the 1929 crisis. They were unable to deal with a crisis because of their lack of historical information. If they had read some books about Black Thursday they would have been able to make better decisions and avoid many wellknown pitfalls. But I wonder if books would have been the only reliable vehicle for acquiring information. Years ago the only way to learn a foreign language (outside of traveling abroad) was to study a language from a book. Now our children frequently learn other languages by listening to records, by watching movies in the original edition, or by deciphering the instructions printed on a beverage can. The same happens with geographical information. In my childhood I got the best of my information about exotic countries not from textbooks but by reading adventure novels (Jules Verne, for instance, or Emilio Salgari or Karl May). My kids very early knew more than I on the same subject from watching TV and movies. The illiteracy of Wall Street yuppies was not only due to an insufficient exposure to books but also to a form of visual illiteracy. Books about the 1929 crisis exist and are still regularly published (the yuppies must be blamed for not having been bookstore goers), while television and the cinema are practically unconcerned with any rigorous revisitation of historical events. One could learn very well the story of the Roman Empire through movies, provided that movies were historically correct. The fault of Hollywood is not to have opposed its movies to the books of Tacitus or of Gibbon, but rather to have imposed a pulp and romance-like version of both Tacitus and Gibbon. The problem with the yuppies is not only that they watch TV instead of reading books; it is that Public Broadcasting is the only place where somebody knows who Gibbon was. Today the concept of literacy comprises many media. An enlightened policy of literacy must take into account the possibilities of all of these media. Educational concern must be extended to the whole of media. Responsibilities and tasks must be carefully balanced. If for learning languages, tapes are better than books, take care of cassettes. If a presentation of Chopin with commentary on compact disks helps people to understand Chopin, don't worry if people do not buy five volumes of the history of music. Even if it were true that today visual communication overwhelms written communication the problem is not to oppose

written to visual communication. The problem is how to improve both. In the Middle Ages visual communication was, for the masses, more important than writing. But Chartres cathedral was not culturally inferior to the Imago Mundi of Honorius of Autun. Cathedrals were the TV of those times, and the difference from our TV was that the directors of the medieval TV read good books, had a lot of imagination, and worked for the public benefit (or, at least, for what they believed to be the public benefit). 2. Books versus other supports There is a confusion about two distinct questions: (a) will computers made books obsolete? and (b) will computers make written and printed material obsolete? Let us suppose that computers will make books disappear (I do not think this will happen and I shall elaborate later on this point, but let us suppose so for the sake of the argument). Still, this would not entail the disappearance of printed material. We have seen that it was wishful thinking to hope that computers, and particularly word processors, would have helped to save trees. Computers encourage the production of printed material. We can imagine a culture in which there will be no books, and yet where people go around with tons and tons of unbound sheets of paper. This will be quite unwieldy, and will pose a new problem for libraries. Debray has observed that the fact that Hebrew civilization was a civilization based upon a book is not independent of the fact that it was a nomadic civilization. I think that this remark is very important. Egyptians could carve their records on stone obelisks, Moses could not. If you want to cross the Red Sea, a book is a more practical instrument for recording wisdom. By the way, another nomadic civilization, the Arabic one, was based upon a book, and privileged writing upon images. But books also have an advantage with respect to computers. Even if printed on acid paper, which lasts only seventy years or so, they are more durable than magnetic supports. Moreover, they do not suffer power shortages and blackouts, and are more resistant to shocks. As Bolter remarked, "it is unwise to try to predict technological change more than few years in advance," but it is certain that, up to now at least, books still represent the most economical, flexible, wash-and-wear way to transport information at a very low cost. Electronic communication travels ahead of you, books travel with you and at your speed, but if you are shipwrecked on a desert island, a book can be useful, while a computer cannot -- as Landow remarks, electronic texts need a reading station and a decoding device. Books are still the best companions for a shipwreck, or for the Day After. I am pretty sure that new technologies will render obsolete many kinds of books, like encyclopedias and manuals. Take for example the Encyclomedia project developed by Horizons Unlimited. When finished it will probably contain more information than the Encyclopedia Britannica (or Treccani or Larousse), with the advantage that it permits cross-references and nonlinear retrieval of information. The whole of the compact disks, plus the computer, will occupy one-fifth of the space occupied by an encyclopedia. The encyclopedia cannot be transported as the CD-ROM can, and cannot be easily updated; it does not have the practical advantages of a normal book, therefore it can be replaced by a CD-ROM, just a phone book can. The shelves today occupied, at my home as well as in public libraries, by meters and meters of encyclopedia volumes could be eliminated in the next age, and there will be no reason to lament their disappearance. For the same reason today I no longer need a heavy portrait painted by an indifferent artist, for I can send my sweetheart a glossy and faithful photograph. Such a change in the social functions of painting has not made painting obsolete, not even the realistic paintings of Annigoni, which do not furfill the function of portraying a person, but of celebrating an important person, so that the commissioning, the purchasing, and the exhibition of such portraits acquire aristocratic connotations. Books will remain indispensable not only for literature, but for any circumstance in which one needs to read carefully, not only to receive information but also to speculate and to reflect about it. To read a computer screen is not the same as to read a book. Think of the process of learning how to use a piece of software. Usually the system is able to display on the screen all the instructions you need. But the

users who want to learn the program generally either print the instructions and read them as if they were in book form, or they buy a printed manual (let me skip over the fact that currently all the manuals that come with a computer, on-line or off-line, are obviously written by irresponsible and tautological idiots, while commercial handbooks are written by intelligent people). It is possible to conceive of a visual program that explains very well how to print and bind a book, but in order to get instructions on how to write such a computer program, we need a printed manual. After having spent no more than twelve hours at a computer console, my eyes are like two tennis balls, and I feel the need to sit comfortably down in an armchair and read a newspaper, or maybe a good poem. It seems to me that computers are/diffusing a new form of literacy but are incapable of satisfying all the intellectual needs they are stimulating. In my periods of optimism I dream of a computer generation which, compelled to read a computer screen, gets acquainted with reading from a screen, but at a certain moment feels unsatisfied and looks for a different, more relaxed, and differently-committing form of reading. 3. Publishing versus communicating People desire to communicate with one another. In ancient communities they did it orally; in a more complex society they tried to do it by printing. Most of the books which are displayed in a bookstore should be defined as products of vanity presses, even if they are published by an university press. As Landow suggests we are entering a new samizdat era. People can communicate directly without the intermediation of publishing houses. A great many people do not want to publish; they simply want to communicate with each other. The fact that in the future they will do it by E-mail or over the Internet will be a great boon for books and for the culture and the market of the book. Look at a bookstore. There are too many books. I receive too many books every week. If the computer network succeeds in reducing the quantity of published books, this would be a paramount cultural improvement. One of the most common objections to the pseudoliteracy of computers is that young people get more and more accustomed to speak through cryptic short formulas: dir, help, diskcopy. error 67, and so on. Is that still literacy? I am a rare-book collector, and I feel delighted when I read the seventeenth-century titles that took one page and sometimes more. They look like the titles of Lina Wertmuller's movies. The introductions were several pages long. They started with elaborate courtesy formulas praising the ideal addressee, usually an emperor or a pope, and lasted for pages and pages explaining in a very baroque style the purposes and the virtues of the text to follow. If baroque writers read our contemporary scholarly books they would be horrified. Introductions are one-page long, briefly outline the subject matter of the book, thank some national or international endowment for a generous grant, shortly explain that the book has been made possible by the love and understanding of a wife or husband and of some children, and credit a secretary for having patiently typed the manuscript. We understand perfectly the whole of human and academic ordeals revealed by those few lines, the hundreds of nights spent underlining photocopies, the innumerable frozen hamburgers eaten in a hurry.... But I imagine that in the near future we will have three lines saying "W/c, Smith, Rockefeller," which we will decode as "I thank my wife and my children; this book was patiently revised by Professor Smith, and was made possible by the Rockefeller Foundation." That would be as eloquent as a baroque introduction. It is a problem of rhetoric and of acquaintance with a given rhetoric. I think that in the coming years passionate love messages will be sent in the form of a short instruction in BASIC language, under the form "if... then," so to obtain, as an input, messages like "I love you, therefore I cannot live with you." (Besides, the best of English mannerist literature was listed, if memory serves, in some programming language as 2B OR/NOT 2B.) There is a curious idea according to which the more you say in verbal language, the more profound and perceptive you are. Mallarme told us that it is sufficient to spell out une fleur to evoke a universe of scents, shapes, and thoughts. It is frequently the case in poetry that fewer words say more things. Three lines of Pascal say more than three hundred pages of a long and tedious treatise on morals and metaphysics. The

quest for a new and surviving literacy ought not to be the quest for a preinformatic quantity. The enemies of literacy are hiding elsewhere. 4. Three kinds of hypertext It seems to me that at this time we are faced with three different conceptions of hypertext. Technically speaking, a hypertext document is more or less what Landow has explained to us. The problem is, what does a hypertext document stand for? Here we must make a careful distinction, first, between systems and texts. A system (for instance, a linguistic system) is the whole of the possibilities displayed by a given natural language. In this framework it holds the principle of unlimited semiosis, as defined by Peirce. Every linguistic item can be interpreted in terms of itiuistic or other semiotic items -- a word by a definition, an event by an example, a natural kind by an image, and so on and so forth. The system is perhaps finite but unlimited. You go in a spiral-like movement ad infinitum. In this sense certainly all the conceivable books are comprised by and within a good dictionary. If you are able to use Webster's Third you can write both Paradise Lost and Ulysses. Certainly, if conceived in such a way, hypertext can transform every reader into an author. Give the same hypertext system to Shakespeare and to Dan Quayle, and they have the same odds of producing Romeo and Juliet. It may prove rather difficult to produce systemlike hypertexts. However, if you take the Horizons Unlimited Encyclomedia, certainly the best of seventeenth-century interpretations are virtually comprised within it. It depends on your ability to work through its preexisting links. Given the hypertextual system it is really up to you to become Gibbon or Walt Disney. As a matter of fact, even before the invention of hypertext, with a good dictionary a writer could design every possible book or story or poem or novel. But a text is not a linguistic or an encyclopedic system. A given text reduces the infinite or indefinite possibilities of a system to make up a closed universe. Finnegans Wake is certainly open to many interpretations, but it is sure that it will never provide you with the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, or the complete bibliography of Woody Allen. This seems trivial, but the radical mistake of irresponsible deconstructionists or of critics like Stanley Fish was to believe that you can do everything you want with a text. This is blatantly false. Busa's hypertext on the Aquinas corpus is a marvelous instrument, but you cannot use it to find out a satisfactory definition of electricity. With a system like hypertext based upon Webster's Third and the Encyclopedia Britannica you can; with a hypertext bound to the universe of Aquinas, you cannot. A textual hypertext is finite and limited, even though open to innumerable and original inquiries. Then there is the third possibility, the one outlined by Michael Joyce. We may conceive of hypertexts which are unlimited and infinite. Every user can add something, and you can implement a sort of jazzlike unending story. At this point the classical notion of authorship certainly disappears, and we have a new way to implement free creativity. As the author of The Open Work I can only hail such a possibility. However there is a difference between implementing the activity of producing texts and the existence of produced texts. We shall have a new culture in which there will be a difference between producing infinitely many texts and interpreting precisely a finite number of texts. That is what happens in our present culture, in which we evaluate differently a recorded performance of Beethoven's Fifth and a new instance of a New Orleans jam session. We are marching toward a more liberated society, in which free creativity will coexist with textual interpretation. I like this. The problem is in saying that we have replaced an old thing with another one; we have both, thank God. TV zapping is an activity that has nothing to do with reading a movie. Italian TV watchers appreciate Blob as a masterpiece in recorded zapping, which invites everybody to freely use TV, but this has nothing to do with the possibility of everyone reading a Hitchcock or a Fellini movie as an independent work of art in itself. 5. Change versus merging

Debray has reminded us that the invention of the photograph has set painters free from the duty of imitation. I cannot but agree. Without the invention of Daguerre, Impressionism could not have been possible. But the idea that a new technology abolishes a previous role is much too simplistic. After the invention of Daguerre painters no longer felt obliged to serve as mere craftsmen charged with reproducing reality as we believe we see it. But this does not mean that Daguerre's invention only encouraged abstract painting. There is a whole tradition in modern painting that could not exist without the photographic model: I am not thinking only of hyperrealism, but also (let me say) of Hopper. Reality is seen by the painter's eye through the photographic eye. Certainly the advent of cinema or of comic strips has freed literature from certain narrative tasks it traditionally had to perform. But if there is something like postmodern literature, it exists because it has been largely influenced by comic strips or cinema. This means that in the history of culture it has never happened that something has simply killed something else. Something has profoundly changed something else. It seems to me that the real opposition is not between computers and books, or between electronic writing and printed or manual writing. I have mentioned the first McLuhan fallacy, according to which the Visual Galaxy has replaced the Gutenberg Galaxy. The second McLuhan fallacy is exemplified by the statement that we are living in a new electronic global village. We are certainly living in a new electronic community, which is global enough, but it is not a village, if by that one means a human settlement where people are directly interacting with each other. The real problem of an electronic community is solitude. The new citizen of this new community is free to invent new texts, to annul the traditional notion of authorship, to delete the traditional divisions between author and reader, to transubstantiate into bones and flesh the pallid ideals of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. (At least this is what I have heard said by enthusiasts of the technology. You will have to ask Derrida if the design of hypertexts really abolishes the ghost of a Transcendental Meaning -- I am not my brother's keeper -- and as far as Barthes is concerned, that was in another country and besides, the fellow is dead.) But we know that the reading of certain texts (let us say, Diderot's Encyclopdie) produced a change in the European state of affairs. What will happen with the Internet and the World Wide Web? I am optimistic. During the Gulf War, George Lakoff understood that his ideas on that war could not be published before the end of the conflict. Thus he relied on the Internet to spell out his alarm in time. Politically and militarily his initiative was completely useless, but that does not matter. He succeeded in reaching a community of persons all over the world who felt the same way that he did. Can computers implement not a network of one-to-one contacts between solitary souls, but a real community of interacting subjects? Think of what happened in 1968. By using traditional communication systems such as press, radio, and typewritten messages, an entire generation was involved, from America to France, from Germany to Italy, in a common struggle. I am not trying to evaluate politically or ethically what happened, I am simply remarking that it happened. Several years later, a new student revolutionary wave emerged in Italy, one not based upon Marxist tenets as the previous one had been. Its main feature was that it took place eminently through fax, between university and university. A new technology was implemented, but the results were rather poor. The uprising was tamed, by itself, in the course of two months. A new communications technology could not give a soul to a movement which was born only for reasons of fashion. Recently in Italy the government tried to impose a new law that offended the sentiments of the Italian people. The principal reaction was mediated by fax, and in the face so many faxes the government felt obliged to change that law. This is a good example of the revolutionary power of new communications technologies. But between the faxes and the abolition of the law, something more happened. At that time I was traveling abroad and I only saw a photograph in a foreign newspaper. It portrayed a group of young people, all physically together, rallying in front of the parliament and displaying provocative posters. I do not know if faxes alone would have been sufficient. Certainly the circulation of faxes produced a new kind of interpersonal contact, and through faxes people understood that it was time to meet again together.

At the origin of that story there was a mere icon, the smile of Berlusconi that visually persuaded so many Italians to vote for him. After that all the opponents felt frustrated and isolated. The Media Man had won. Then, in the face of an unbearable provocation, there was a new technology that gave people the sense of their discontent as well as of their force. Then came the moment when many of them got out of their faxing solitude and met together again. And won. It is rather difficult to make a theory out of a single episode, but let me use this example as an allegory: when an integrated multimedia sequence of events succeeds in bringing people back to a nonvirtual reality, something new can happen. I do not have a rule for occurrences of the same frame. I realize that I am proposing the Cassiodorus way, and that my allegory looks like a Rube Goldberg construction, as James O'Donnell puts it. A Rube Goldberg model seems to me the only metaphysical template for our electronic future. The Holy War: Mac vs. DOS The following excerpts are from an English translation of Umberto Eco's back-page column, La bustina di Minerva, in the Italian news weekly Espresso, September 30, 1994. Friends, Italians, countrymen, I ask that a Committee for Public Health be set up, whose task would be to censor (by violent means, if necessary) discussion of the following topics in the Italian press. Each censored topic is followed by an alternative in brackets which is just as futile, but rich with the potential for polemic. Whether Joyce is boring (whether reading Thomas Mann gives one erections). Whether Heidegger is responsible for the crisis of the Left (whether Ariosto provoked the revocation of the Edict of Nantes). Whether semiotics has blurred the difference between Walt Disney and Dante (whether De Agostini does the right thing in putting Vimercate and the Sahara in the same atlas). Whether Italy boycotted quantum physics (whether France plots against the subjunctive). Whether new technologies kill books and cinemas (whether zeppelins made bicycles redundant). Whether computers kill inspiration (whether fountain pens are Protestant). One can continue with: whether Moses was anti-semitic; whether Leon Bloy liked Calasso; whether Rousseau was responsible for the atomic bomb; whether Homer approved of investments in Treasury stocks; whether the Sacred Heart is monarchist or republican. I asked above whether fountain pens were Protestant. Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me. The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation. DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment. You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions: When it comes down to it, you can decide to ordain women and gays if you want to. Naturally, the Catholicism and Protestantism of the two systems have nothing to do with the cultural and

religious positions of their users. One may wonder whether, as time goes by, the use of one system rather than another leads to profound inner changes. Can you use DOS and be a Vande supporter? And more: Would Celine have written using Word, WordPerfect, or Wordstar? Would Descartes have programmed in Pascal? And machine code, which lies beneath and decides the destiny of both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that belongs to the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic. The Jewish lobby, as always.... Casablanca, or, The Clichs are Having a Ball From: Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon, eds. (Boston: Bedford Books, 1994) pp.260- 264. When people in their fifties sit down before their television sets for a rerun of Casablanca, it is an ordinary matter of nostalgia. However, when the film is shown in American universities, the boys and girls greet each scene and canonical line of dialogue ("Round up the usual suspects," "Was that cannon fire, or is it my heart pounding?" -- or even every time that Bogey says "kid") with ovations usually reserved for football games. And I have seen the youthful audience in an Italian art cinema react in the same way. What then is the fascination of Casablanca? The question is a legitimate one, for aesthetically speaking (or by any strict critical standards) Casablanca is a very mediocre film. It is a comic strip, a hotch-potch, low on psychological credibility, and with little continuity in its dramatic effects. And we know the reason for this: The film was made up as the shooting went along, and it was not until the last moment that the director and script writer knew whether Ilse would leave with Victor or with Rick. So all those moments of inspired direction that wring bursts of applause for their unexpected boldness actually represent decisions taken out of desperation. What then accounts for the success of this chain of accidents, a film that even today, seen for a second, third, or fourth time, draws forth the applause reserved for the operatic aria we love to hear repeated, or the enthusiasm we accord to an exciting discovery? There is a cast of formidable hams. But that is not enough. Here are the romantic lovers -- he bitter, she tender -- but both have been seen to better advantage. And Casablanca is not Stagecoach, another film periodically revived. Stagecoach is a masterpiece in every respect. Every element is in its proper place, the characters are consistent from one moment to the next, and the plot (this too is important) comes from Maupassant--at least the first part of it. And so? So one is tempted to read Casablanca the way T. S. Eliot reread Hamlet. He attributed its fascination not to its being a successful work (actually he considered it one of Shakespeare's less fortunate plays) but to something quite the opposite: Hamlet was the result of an unsuccessful fusion of several earlier Hamlets, one in which the theme was revenge (with madness as only a stratagem), and another whose theme was the crisis brought on by the mother's sin, with the consequent discrepancy between Hamlet's nervous excitation and the vagueness and implausibility of Gertrude's crime. So critics and public alike find Hamlet beautiful because it is interesting, and believe it to be interesting because it is beautiful. On a smaller scale, the same thing happened to Casablanca. Forced to improvise a plot, the authors mixed in a little of everything, and everything they chose came from a repertoire of the tried and true. When the choice of the tried and true is limited, the result is a trite or mass-produced film, or simply kitsch. But when the tried and true repertoire is used wholesale, the result is an architecture like Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There is a sense of dizziness, a stroke of brilliance. But now let us forget how the film was made and see what it has to show us. It opens in a place already magical in itself -- Morocco, the Exotic -- and begins with a hint of Arab music that fades into "La Marseillaise." Then as we enter Rick's Place we hear Gershwin. Africa France, America. At once a tangle of Eternal Archetypes comes into play. These are situations that have presided over stories throughout the ages. But usually to make a good story a single archetypal situation is enough. More than enough. Unhappy Love,

for example, or Flight. But Casablanca is not satisfied with that: It uses them all. The city is the setting for a Passage, the passage to the Promised Land (or a Northwest Passage if you like). But to make the passage one must submit to a test, the Wait ("they wait and wait and wait," says the off-screen voice at the beginning). The passage from the waiting room to the Promised Land requires a Magic Key, the visa. It is around the winning of this Key that passions are unleashed. Money (which appears at various points, usually in the form of the Fatal Game, roulette) would seem to be the means for obtaining the Key. But eventually we discover that the Key can be obtained only through a Gift -- the gift of the visa, but also the gift Rick makes of his Desire by sacrificing himself For this is also the story of a round of Desires, only two of which are satisfied: that of Victor Laszlo, the purest of heroes, and that of the Bulgarian couple. All those whose passions are impure fail. Thus, we have another archetype: the Triumph of Purity. The impure do not reach the Promised Land; we lose sight of them before that. But they do achieve purity through sacrifice -- and this means Redemption. Rick is redeemed and so is the French police captain. We come to realize that underneath it all there are two Promised Lands: One is America (though for many it is a false goal), and the other is the Resistance -- the Holy War. That is where Victor has come from, and that is where Rick and the captain are going, to join de Gaulle. And if the recurring symbol of the airplane seems every so often to emphasize the flight to America, the Cross of Lorraine, which appears only once, anticipates the other symbolic gesture of the captain, when at the end he throws away the bottle of Vichy water as the plane is leaving. On the other hand the myth of sacrifice runs through the whole film: Ilse's sacrifice in Paris when she abandons the man she loves to return to the wounded hero, the Bulgarian bride's sacrifice when she is ready to yield herself to help her husband, Victor's sacrifice when he is prepared to let Ilse go with Rick so long as she is saved. Into this orgy of sacrificial archetypes (accompanied by the Faithful Servant theme in the relationship of Bogey and the black man Dooley Wilson) is inserted the theme of Unhappy Love: unhappy for Rick, who loves Ilse and cannot have her; unhappy for Ilse, who loves Rick and cannot leave with him; unhappy for Victor, who understands that he has not really kept Ilse. The interplay of unhappy loves produces various twists and turns: In the beginning Rick is unhappy because he does not understand why Ilse leaves him; then Victor is unhappy because he does not understand why Ilse is attracted to Rick; finally Ilse is unhappy because she does not understand why Rick makes her leave with her husband. These three unhappy (or Impossible) loves take the form of a Triangle. But in the archetypal love-triangle there is a Betrayed Husband and a Victorious Lover. Here instead both men are betrayed and suffer a loss, but, in this defeat (and over and above it) an additional element plays a part, so subtly that one is hardly aware of it. It is that, quite subliminally, a hint of male or Socratic love is established. Rick admires Victor, Victor is ambiguously attracted to Rick, and it almost seems at a certain point as if each of the two were playing out the duel of sacrifice in order to please the other. In any case, as in Rousseau's Confessions, the woman places herself as Intermediary between the two men. She herself is not a bearer of positive values; only the men are. Against the background of these intertwined ambiguities, the characters are stock figures, either all good or all bad. Victor plays a double role, as an agent of ambiguity in the love story, and an agent of clarity in the political intrigue -- he is Beauty against the Nazi Beast. This theme of Civilization against Barbarism becomes entangled with the others, and to the melancholy of an Odyssean Return is added the warlike daring of an Iliad on open ground. Surrounding this dance of eternal myths, we see the historical myths, or rather the myths of the movies, duly served up again. Bogart himself embodies at least three: the Ambiguous Adventurer, compounded of cynicism and generosity; the Lovelorn Ascetic; and at the same time the Redeemed Drunkard (he has to be made a drunkard so that all of a sudden he can be redeemed, while he was already an ascetic, disappointed in love). Ingrid Bergman is the Enigmatic Woman, or Femme Fatale. Then such myths as: They're Playing Our Song; the Last Day in Paris; America, Africa, Lisbon as a Free Port; and the Border Station or Last Outpost on the Edge of the Desert. There is the Foreign Legion (each character has a different nationality and a different story to tell), and finally there is the Grand Hotel (people coming and going). Rick's Place is a

magic circle where everything can (and does) happen: love, death, pursuit, espionage, games of chance, seductions, music, patriotism. (The theatrical origin of the plot, and its poverty of means, led to an admirable condensation of events in a single setting.) This place is Hong Kong, Macao, I'Enfer duJeu, an anticipation of Lisbon, and even Showboat. But precisely because all the archetypes are here, precisely because Casablanca cites countless other films, and each actor repeats a part played on other occasions, the resonance of intertextuality plays upon the spectator. Casablanca brings with it, like a trail of perfume, other situations that the viewer brings to bear on it quite readily, taking them without realizing it from films that only appeared later, such as To Have and Have Not, where Bogart actually plays a Hemingway hero, while here in Casablanca he already attracts Hemingwayesque connotations by the simple fact that Rick, so we are told, fought in Spain (and, like Malraux, helped the Chinese Revolution). Peter Lorre drags in reminiscences of Fritz Lang; Conrad Veidt envelops his German officer in a faint aroma of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari -- he is not a ruthless, technological Nazi, but a nocturnal and diabolical Caesar. Thus Casablanca is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. Made haphazardly, it probably made itself, if not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control. And this is the reason it works, in spite of aesthetic theories and theories of film making. For in it there unfolds with almost telluric force the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it. And so we can accept it when characters change mood, morality, and psychology from one moment to the next, when conspirators cough to interrupt the conversation if a spy is approaching, when whores weep at the sound of "La Marseillaise." When all the archtypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us. For we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion. Just as the height of pain may encounter sensual pleasure, and the height of perversion border on mystical energy, so too the height of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the sublime. Something has spoken in place of the director. If nothing else, it is a phenomenon worthy of awe. For a Polyglot Federation New Perspectives Quarterly, Winter 1993 UMBERTO ECO Author Of THE NAME OF THE ROSE and FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, Umberto Eco is without doubt the world's most famous semiologist. His comment here is adapted from an interview with his translator and friend, the writer Jean-Noel Schifano. A longer version of this interview appeared in LE MONDE. The Quest for a Perfect Language in the History of European Culture is a subject containing a gargantuan utopia coupled with a search for the Grail. It is gargantuan and Rabelaisian -- a farfetched, extraordinary idea for a project. In order for all of it to be covered completely, 10 scholars should work for 20 years to produce 40 volumes. As it is, as I proceed into my third year of this project -- even I, who collect ancient books -- discover texts that are either completely unknown or were mentioned once by, let's say, Leibniz, another time by someone else. What does this mean for Europe, which has constantly torn itself apart while dreaming of coming into being? It means that the history of Europe, traversed by breaks, wars, divisions and attempts to reestablish a Government, is continually accompanied by this quest, which is punctuated with possible political upheaval. Take Postel, for example, a man who dreamed of rediscovering the perfect original Hebrew that would make universal religious and political harmony possible under the King of France. Or take the Rosicrucians, who sought a magical language -- one that would merge with the language of birds, the natural language of Jacob Bohme. Behind their quest, however, was also the search for universal peace, which was for them the peace between Catholics and Protestants. And under the Convention, there was the perfect republican language of Delormel for the laical harmony

of the Enlightenment. This theme has always traversed European history. It is utopian -- a search for Grail -- and, therefore, doomed to failure. But -- and this is the idea that interests me- though it is a search that fails in each of its attempts, it produces what the English call "collateral effects": the language of Lulle failed as a language of religious harmony but gave rise to all of the combinatives, up to the word "computer." The language of Wilkins failed as a universal language but produced all the new classifications of the natural sciences. The language of Leibniz failed but produced modern formal logic. So, in each failed effort to formulate the perfect language a small inheritance remains. Today, whether we are doing algebra or playing with the computer, we are, in effect, benefitting from some inheritance of the quest for a perfect language. It is even more fascinating for a linguist or semanticist, since, by studying the reasons why perfect languages did not work we discover why natural languages are what they are. THE SEARCH AND ITS TREASURES Every search for the perfect language started by describing the defects ofthe natural language. For an example, we need only look to Italy, where the language of Dante was born in response to the search for a perfect language. In the beginning, Dante discussed only the Language of Adam and its characteristics. He then made a truly marvelous decision: his own language would be the perfect language -- the language he invented for his poetic use -- which then became Italian, and artificially national. While English was born imperfect but evolved as people reasoned for their own account, the Italian language has suffered from having been born of the project of a perfect language. Today Italy endures its language, which was and has remained a laboratory language. Since Italy is not a unified nation, Italian has never become the language spoken by everyone, though it remains the language of writers-and of television. Indeed, the Italian language had its standard unification relatively recently, with television. Let us not forget that no more than 100 years ago Victor-Emmanuel, who unified Italy after the battle of San Martino, said to his officers: "Today we have given the Austrians a good thrashing." He said it in French, because he spoke French with his wife and his officers, in dialect with his soldiers, and perhaps in Italian with Garibaldi.

DEGENERATION OF LANGUAGE I share the feelings of those who think that a language, as a living organism, always manages to enrich itself and survive, to resist all "barbarization," to produce poems, etc. It is obvious that in New York, where there are Puerto Ricans, Indians, Pakistanis, etc., the mix of people imposes a simple language on the rest of the community: 2,000 or 3,000 words, with easy constructions. But I am not like those who become shocked when the new generations speak their standard jargon. Language is strong; it always has the upper hand. What is left, however, is what socio-linguists have called the social division of languages. Obviously, a university professor has a richer language than a taxi driver. Richelieu had a richer language than his peasants. The social division of language has always existed, but that statement of fact does not involve the notion of degeneration-enrichment. English is unquestionably the language with the richest lexicon, and- by virtue of the social division of languages, the taxi driver knows only a very small portion of this vocabulary. However, the richness of the English language is not in question: it survives through literature. Therefore, I do not think that a technological revolution can silence a language. Look at Europe: Just 20 years ago, people were inclined to think that four or five basic languages could suffice for the European people. What we have seen, after the crumbling of the Soviet Empire, is a multiplication of regional languages: in ex-Yugoslavia, in the ex-Soviet Union. And these trends give strength to other minority languages such as Basque, Catalan, Breton.

Europe does not "melt" like the U.S., and so must therefore find a political unity above the great linguistic divide. The challenge for Europe is that of going toward multilingualism; we must place our hope in a polyglot Europe. The challenge for Europe is finding political unity through polyglotism. Even if the decision is made to speak Esperanto at the European Parliament and in airports, polyglotism will be the true unity of Europe. Europe must take Switzerland and not Italy -- with its diversity of dialects and traditions, but a national language -- as its model. Europe must remain a multilinguistic community.

POLYGLOT OR MISHMASH? If one looks at what is happening in American universities, where studying Shakespeare is being advised against in order to study African or Indian culture, one sees a science fiction future in which Hemingway could be Menandre. But I am insistent about there being a quality, a force in Europe, which keeps us from falling into such naivete. In Paris, Western civilization can be studied, and an Institute of the Arab World is being constructed at which Oriental civilizations may also be studied. One can picture a high school in which the history of France is studied at the same time as the history of the African people. Europe is not ingenuous enough to say: let us throw Shakespeare out so we can dive into the Hindu religions. Because of this, the possibility that a Valery will become a Menandre in Europe is less than in America. In order for Menandre to have become Menandre, his language had to die at a precise moment. Therefore, before the living languages of Europe become dead languages, with the capacity they have of rejuvenating themselves, there would really have to be a tragedy on a planetary scale, which would cause the western countries to fall into total ruin. And this is unlikely. The worldwide circulation of information makes it much more difficult for there to be the danger that one day Notre Dame will be regarded like the statues on Easter Island. SEPARATE BUT UNITARY In 1943, Alberto Savinio wrote, "The concept of nation was originally an expansive concept and therefore active and fertile. As such, it inspired and formed the nations of Europe, in the middle of which we were born and have lived until now. This concept has since lost its expansive qualities and has now assumed restrictive qualities." I share this unitary and European vision with Savinio. It is very improbable that in France today someone like Richelieu would intend that all of Europe speak French or that a Kaiser, someone like Frederick II, would want all of Europe to speak German. Unfortunately, the French in the North, who fear that European unity will erase national identity, do not realize that Richelieu built the French nation but he did not keep someone from Marseille from feeling deeply Marseillais -- with all his meridional traditions, his culture and even his pronunciation and dialect. In Italy, it is possible for the idea of nation to coexist with tradition. For instance, I feel intimately Piedmontese and believe that someone else living in Sicily feels deeply Napolitan. One must not think that Europe can be conceived without the expansive concept of nation. The European Union exists precisely to keep us from thinking of a German Europe or a French Europe. Nonetheless, the nation remains a deep element of identity. The problem with this element of identity is that it must merge into the multilinguistic perspective, into a Europe of polyglots. Europe must become a land of translators -- people who have a deep respect for the original text and a deep love of their language of origin, but who also seek to build an equivalent. Such is the concept of Europe. Through translation, our language is enriched in order to understand itself better. A Europe in which the franc and the mark no longer exist but the Ecu does is alright with me. But it must also be a Europe in which, when you are in Paris, you are in Paris; and when you are in Berlin, you are in

Berlin! In these cities we must be able to feel two deeply different civilizations that make themselves understood and loved. A MODERN HOME FOR THE TOWER OF BABEL Between the 18th and I9th century, the myth of the Tower of Babel became a symbol of progress, of tomorrows that sing. There is no longer the fear of a tower reaching as high as God, out of defiance or pride. In the beginning Babel was a sin; it has become a virtue in the modern world. In fact, someone is planning to build a "never-ending tower" -- a Tower of Babel -- in the La Defense section of Paris. But the modern world has already made its decision to construct a Tower of Babel: the space shuttle. The modern world has constructed the Tower of Babel by going to the Moon and by seeking to understand what is happening at the furthermost bounds of the universe. Under these circumstances, Paris' current wish for a tower may be nothing but an archaic metaphor. A Rose by Any Other Name Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994 There are writers who do not bother about their translations, sometimes because they lack the linguistic competence; some sometimes because they have no faith in the literary value of their work and are anxious only to sell their product in as many countries as possible. Often the indifference conceals two prejudices, equally despicable: Either the author considers himself an inimitable genius and so suffers translation as a painful political process to be borne until the whole world has learned his language, or else the author harbours an "ethnic" bias and considers it a waste of time to care about how readers from other cultures might feel about his work. People think an author can check his translations only if he knows the language into I which he is to be translated. Obviously, if he does know that language, the work proceeds more easily. But it all depends on the translator's intelligence. For example, I do not know Swedish, Russian, or Hungarian, and yet I have worked well with my translators into those languages. They were able to explain to me the kind of difficulties they faced, and make me understand why what I had written created problems in their language. In many cases I was able to offer suggestions. The problem frequently arises from the fact that translations are either "source-oriented" or "target oriented," as today's books on Translation Theory put it. A source-oriented translation must do everything possible to make the B-language reader understand what the writer has thought or said in language A. Classical Greek affords a typical example: in order to comprehend it at all, the modern reader must understand what the poets of that age were like and how they might express themselves. If Homer seems to repeat "rosy-fingered dawn" too frequently, the translator must not try to vary the epithet just because today's manuals of style insist we should be careful about repeating the same adjective. The reader has to understand that in those days dawn had rosy fingers whenever it was mentioned. In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite an example from the translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief characters constantly speak in literary quotations. The purpose is to show that it is impossible for these characters to see the world except through literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in the hills, the translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little villages: we glimpsed endless vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di la della siepe, come osservava Diotallevi." If these words had been translated, literally "beyond the hedge, as Diotallevi remarked," the English-language reader would have lost something, for "al di la della siepe" is a reference to the most beautiful poem of Giacomo Leopardi, "L'infinito," which every Italian reader knows by heart. The quotation appears at that point not because I wanted to tell the reader there was a hedge anywhere nearby, but because I wanted to show how Diotallevi could experience the landscape only by linking it to his experience of the poem. I told my translators that the

hedge was not important, nor the reference to Leopardi, but it was important to have a literary reference at any cost. In fact, William Weaver's translation reads: "We glimpsed endless vistas. Like Darien," Diotallevi remarked..." This brief allusion to the Keats sonnet is a good example of target-oriented translation. A source-oriented translator in a language I do not know may ask me why I have used a certain expression, or (if he understood it from the start) he may explain to me why, in his language, such a thing cannot be said. Even then I try to take part (if only from outside) in a translation that is at once source and target-oriented. These are not easy problems. Consider Tolstoy's War And Peace. As many know, this novel -- written in Russian, of course -- begins with a long dialogue in French. I have no idea how many Russian readers in Tolstoy's day understood French; the aristocrats surely did because this French dialogue is meant, in fact, to depict the customs of aristocratic Russian society. Perhaps Tolstoy took it for granted that, in his day, those who did not know French were not even able to read Russian. Or else he wanted the non-French-speaking reader to understand that the aristocrats of the Napoleonic period were, in fact, so remote from Russian national life that they spoke in an incomprehensible fashion. Today if you re-read those pages, you will realize that it is not important to understand what those characters are saying, because they speak of trivial things. What is important is to understand that they are saying those things in French. A problem that has always fascinated me is this: How would you translate the first chapter of War And Peace into French? The reader reads a book in French and in it some of the characters are speaking French; nothing strange about that. If the translator adds a note to the dialogue saying en francais dans le text, it is of scant help: the effect is still lost. Perhaps, to achieve that effect, the aristocrats (in the French translation) should speak English. I am glad I did not write War And Peace and am not obliged to argue with my French translator. As an author, I have learned a great deal from sharing the work of my translators. I am talking about my "academic" works as well as my novels. In the case of philosophical and linguistic works, when the translator cannot understand (and clearly translate) a certain page, it means that my thinking was murky. Many times, after having faced the job of translation, I have revised the second Italian edition of my book; not only from the point of view of its style but also from the point of view of ideas. Sometimes you write something in your own language A, and the translator says: "If I translate that into my language B, it will not make sense." He could be mistaken. But if, after long discussion, you realize that the passage would not make sense in language B, it will follow that it never made sense in language A to begin with. This doesn't mean that, above a text written in language A there hovers a mysterious entity that is its Sense, which would be the same in any language, something like an ideal text written in what Walter Benjamin called Reine Sprache (The Pure language). Too good to be true. In that case it would only be a matter of isolating this Pure language and the work of translation (even of a page of Shakespeare) could be done by computer. The job of translation is a trial and error process, very similar to what happens in an Oriental bazaar when you are buying a carpet. The merchant asks 100, you offer 10 and after an hour of bargaining you agree on 50. Naturally, in order to believe that the negotiation has been a success you must have fairly precise ideas about this basically imprecise phenomenon called translation. In theory, different languages are impossible to hold to one standard; it cannot be said that the English "house" is truly and completely the synonym of the French "maison." But in theory no form of perfect communication exists. And yet, for better or worse, ever since the advent of Homo sapiens, we have managed to communicate. Ninety percent (I believe) of War And Peace's readers have read the book in translation and yet if you set a Chinese, an Englishman, and an Italian to discussing War And Peace, not only will all agree that Prince Andrej dies, but, despite many interesting and differing nuances of meaning, all will be prepared to agree on the recognition of certain moral principles expressed by Tolstoy. I am sure the various interpretations would not exactly coincide, but neither would the interpretations that three English-speaking readers might provide of the same Wordsworth poem. In the course of working with translators, you reread your original text, you discover its possible

interpretations, and it sometimes happens -- as I have said -- that you want to rewrite it. I have not rewritten my two novels, but there is one place which, after its translation, I would have gladly rewritten. It is the dialogue in Foucault's Pendulum in which Diotallevi says: "God created the world by speaking. He didn't send a telegram." And Belbo replies:"Fiat lux. Stop." But in the original Belbo said: "Fiat lux. Stop. Segue lettera" ("Fiat lux. Stop. Letter follows.") "Letter follows" is a standard expression used in telegrams (or at least it used to be standard, before the fax machine came into existence). At that point in the Italian text, Casaubon said: "Ai Tessalonicesi, immagino." (To the Thessalonians, I suppose.) It was a sequence of witty remarks, somewhat sophomoric, and the joke lay in the fact that Casaubon was suggesting that, after having created the world by telegram, God would send one of Saint Paul's epistles. But the play on words works only in Italian, in which both the posted letter and the Saint's epistle are called lettera. In English the text had to be changed. Belbo says only "Fiat lux. Stop." and Casaubon comments "Epistle follows." Perhaps the joke becomes a bit more ultraviolet and the reader has to work a little harder to understand what's going on in the minds of the characters, but the short circuit between Old and New Testament is more effective. Here, if I were rewriting the original novel, I would alter that dialogue. Sometimes the author can only trust in Divine Providence. I will never be able to I collaborate fully on a Japanese translation of my work (though I have tried). It is hard for me to understand the thought processes of my "target." For that matter I always wonder what I am really reading, when I look at the translation of a Japanese poem, and I presume Japanese readers have the same experience when reading me. And yet I know that, when I read the translation of Japanese poem, I grasp something of that thought process that is different from mine. If I read a haiku after having read some Zen Buddhist koans, I can perhaps understand why the simple mention of the moon high over the lake should give me emotions analogous to and yet different from those that an English romantic poet conveys to me. Even in these cases a minimum of collaboration between translator and author can work. I no longer remember into which Slavic language someone was translating The Name of the Rose, but we were wondering what the reader would get from the many passages in Latin. Even an American reader who has not studied Latin still knows it was the language of the medieval ecclesiastical world and so catches a whiff of the Middle Ages. And further, if he reads De Pentagono Salomonis he can recognize pentagon and Solomon. But for a Slavic reader these Latin phrases and names, transliterated into the Cyrillic alphabet, suggest nothing. If, at the beginning of War And Peace, the American reader finds "Eh bien, mon prince... " he can guess that the person being addressed is a prince. But if the same dialogue appears at the beginning of a Chinese translation (in an incomprehensible Latin alphabet or worse expressed in Chinese ideograms) what will the reader in Peking understand? The Slavic translator and I decided to use, instead of Latin, the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic of the medieval Orthodox church. In that way the reader would feel the same sense of distance, the same religious atmosphere, though understanding only vaguely what was being said. Thank God I am not a poet, because the problem becomes more dramatic in translating poetry, an art where thought is determined by words, and if you change the language, you change the thought. And yet there are excellent examples of translated poetry produced by a collaboration between author and translator. Often the result is a new creation. One text very close to poetry because of its linguistic complexity is Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Now, the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter - when it was still in the form of an early draft -- was translated into Italian with Joyce himself collaborating. The translation is markedly different from the original English. It is not a translation. It is as if Joyce had rewritten his text in Italian. And yet one French critic has said that to understand that chapter properly (in English) it would be advisable to first read that Italian draft. Perhaps the Pure Language does not exist, but pitting one language against another is a splendid adventure, and it is not necessarily true, as the Italian saying goes, that the translator is always a traitor. Provided that the author takes part in this admirable treason. Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

Writing in New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15. Excerpted in Utne Reader, NovemberDecember 1995, pp. 57-59. In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it. *** 1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition. Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia. This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, "the combination of different forms of belief or practice;" such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth. As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message. If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge -that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism. 2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism. Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism. 3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values. 4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.

In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For UrFascism, disagreement is treason. 5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition. 6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority. 7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson's The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others. 8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies. When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy. 9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament. 10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak. Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte ("Long Live Death!"). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death. 12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise. 13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People. Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism. 14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show. *** Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task. The Author and his Interpreters 1996 lecture at The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America.

I think that a narrator, as well as a poet, should never provide interpretations of his own work. A text is a machine conceived for eliciting interpretations. When one has a text to question, it is irrelevant to ask the author. In 1962 I wrote my The Open Work (Cambridge, Harvard U.P., 1989). In that book I was advocating the active role of the interpreter in the reading of texts endowed with aesthetic value. When those pages were written, my readers mainly focused the 'open' side of the whole business, underestimating the fact that the open-ended reading I was supporting was an activity elicited by (and aiming at interpreting) a work. In other words, I was studying the dialectics between the rights of texts and the rights of their interpreters. I have the impression that, in the course of the last decades, the rights of the interpreters have been overstressed. In various of my writings I elaborated upon the Peircean idea of unlimited semiosis. But the notion of unlimited semiosis does not lead to the conclusion that interpretation has no criteria. First of all unlimited interpretation concerns systems not processes. A linguistic system is a device from which and by using which infinite linguistic strings can be produced. If we look in a dictionary for the meaning of a term we find definitions and synonyms, that is, other words, and we can go to see what these words mean, so that from their definition we can switch to other words -- and so on potentially ad infinitum. A dictionary is, as Joyce said of Finnegans Wake, a book written for an ideal reader affected by an ideal insomnia. But a text, in so far as it is the result of the manipulation of the possibilities of a system, it is not open in the same way. In the process of producing a text one reduces the range of possible linguistic items. If one writes "John is eating a..." there are strong possibilities that the following word will be a noun, and that this noun cannot be staircase (even though, in certain contexts, it could be sword). By reducing the possibility of producing infinite strings, a text also reduces the possibility of trying certain interpretations. To say that the interpretations of a text are potentially unlimited does not mean that interpretation has no object. To say that a text has potentially no end, does not mean that every act of interpretation can have a happy end. I have proposed a sort of Popper-like criterion of falsification by which, if it is difficult to decide if a given interpretation is a good one, and which one is better between two different interpretations of the same text, it is always possible to recognize when a given interpretation is blatantly wrong, crazy, farfetched. Some contemporary theories of criticism assert that the only reliable reading of a text is a misreading, that the only existence of a text is given by the chains of the responses it elicits and that a text is only a picnic where the authors brings the words and the readers the sense. Even if that was true, the words brought by the author are a rather embarrassing bunch of material evidences that the reader cannot pass over in silence, or in noise. In my book The Limits of Interpretation I distinguish between the intention of the author, the intention of the reader and the intention of the text. A text is a device conceived in order to produce its Model Reader. This Reader is not the one who makes the 'only/ right' conjecture. A text can foresee a Model Reader entitled to try infinite conjectures. How to prove a conjecture about the intention of a text? The only way is to check it upon the text as a coherent whole. This idea, too, is an old one and comes from Augustine (De doctrina christiana): any interpretation given of a certain portion of a text can be accepted if it is confirmed and must be rejected if it is challenged by another portion of the same text. In this sense the internal textual coherence controls the otherwise uncontrollable drives of the reader. When a text is put in the bottle -- and this happens not only with poetry or narrative but also with the Critique of the Pure Reason -- that is, when a text is produced not for a single addressee but for a community of readers, the author knows that he/she will be interpreted not according to his/her intentions but according to a complex strategy of interactions which also involves the readers, along with their competence of language as a social treasury. I mean by social treasury not only a given language as a set of grammatical rules, but also the whole encyclopedia that the performances of that language have implemented, namely, the cultural conventions that that language has produced and the very history of the

previous interpretations of many texts, comprehending the text that the reader is in the course of reading. Thus every act of reading is a difficult transaction between the competence of the reader (the reader's world knowledge) and the kind of competence that a given texts postulates in order to be read in an economic way. The Model Reader of a story is not the Empirical Reader. The empirical reader is you, me, anyone, when we read a text. Empirical readers can read in many ways, and there is no law which tells them how to read, because they often use the text as a container for their own passions, which may come from outside the text, or which the text may arouse by chance. Let me quote some funny situations in which one of my readers has acted as an empirical and not as a Model reader. In Chapter 115 of my Foucault's Pendulum the character called Casaubon, on the night of the 23rd to the 24th of June 1984, having been at a occultist ceremony in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, walks, as if possessed, along the entire length of rue Saint-Martin, crosses Rue aux Ours, arrives at Centre Beaubourg and then at Saint-Merry Church. Afterwards carries on along various streets, all of them named, until he gets to Place des Vosges. I have to tell you that in order to write this chapter I had followed the same route for several nights, carrying a tape recorder, taking notes on what I could see and the impressions I had. Indeed, since I have a computer program which can show me what the sky looks like at any time in any year, at whatever longitude or latitude, I had even gone so far as to find out if there had been a moon that night, and in what position it could have been seen at various times. I hadn't done this because I wanted to emulate Emile Zola's realism, but I like to have the scene I'm writing about in front of me while I narrate: it makes me more familiar with what's happening and helps me to get inside the characters. After publishing the novel I received a letter from a man who had evidently gone to the Biblioteque Nationale to read all the newspapers of June 24, 1984. And he had discovered that on the corner of Rue Raumur, that I hadn't actually named but which does cross Rue Saint-Martin at a certain point, after midnight, more or less at the time when Casaubon passed by there, there had been a fire, and a big fire at that, if the papers had talked about it. The reader asked me how Casaubon had managed not to see it. I answered that Casaubon had probably seen the fire, but he hadn't mentioned it for some mysterious reason, unknown to me, pretty likely in a story so thick with mysteries both true and false. I think that my reader is still trying to find out why Casaubon kept quiet about the fire, probably suspecting of another conspiracy by the Knights Templars. There are certain rules of the game, and the Model Reader is someone eager to play such a game. That reader forgot the rule of the game and superimposed his own expectations as empirical reader on the expectations that the author wanted from a model reader. Now let me tell you another story concerning the same night. Two students from the Parisian Ecole des Beaux Arts recently came to show me a photograph album in which they had reconstructed the entire route taken by my character, having gone and photographed the places I had mentioned, one by one, at the same time of night. Given that at the end of the chapter Casaubon comes up out of the city drains and enters through the cellar an oriental bar full of sweating customers, beer-jugs and greasy spits, they succeeded in finding that bar and took a photo of it. It goes without saying that that bar was an invention of mine, even though I have designed it thinking of the many bars of that kind in the area, but those two boys had undoubtedly discovered the bar described in my book. It's not that those students had superimposed on their duty as model readers the concerns of the empirical reader who wants to check if my novel describes the real Paris. On the contrary, they wanted to transform the "real" Paris into a place in my book, and in fact, of all that they could have found in Paris, they chose only those aspects that corresponded to my descriptions -- or, better, to the descriptions provided by my text. In this dialectics between the intention of the reader and the intention of the text, the intention of the empirical author becomes rather irrelevant. We have to respect the text, not the author as a person so and so. Frequently authors say something of which they were not aware and discover to have said that only after the

reactions of their readers. There is however a case in which it can be interesting to resort to the intention of the empirical author. There are cases in which the author is still living, the critics have given their interpretations of his text, and it can be nice to ask the author how much and to what an extent he, as an empirical person, was aware of the manifold interpretations his text supported. At this point the response of the author must not be used in order to validate the interpretations of his text, but to show the discrepancies between the author's intention and the intention of the text. The aim of the experiment is not a critical one, but rather a theoretical one. There can be, finally, a case in which the author is also a text theorist. In this case it would be possible to get from him two different sorts of reaction. I certain cases he can say "No, I did not mean this, but I must agree that the text says it, and I thank the reader that made me aware of it." Or: "Independently of the fact that I did not mean this, I think that a reasonable reader should not accept such an interpretation, because it sounds uneconomic". A typical case where the author must surrender in face of the reader is the one I told about in my Reflections on The Name of the Rose. As I read the reviews of the novel, I felt a thrill of satisfaction when I found a critic who quoted a remark of William's made at the end of the trial: (page 385 in the Englishlanguage edition). "What terrifies you most in purity?" Adso asks. And William answers: "Haste." I loved, and still love, these two lines very much. But then one of my readers pointed out to me that on the same page, Bernard Gui, threatening the cellarer with torture, says: "Justice is not inspired by haste, as the Pseudo Apostles believe, and the justice of God has centuries at its disposal." And the reader rightly asked me what connection I had meant to establish between the haste feared by William and the absence of haste extolled by Bernard. I was unable to answer. As a matter of fact the exchange between Adso and William does not exist in the manuscript, I added this brief dialogue in the galleys, for reasons of concinnity: I needed to insert another scansion before giving Bernard the floor again. And I completely forgot that, a little later, Bernard speaks of haste. Bernard's speech uses a stereotyped expression, the sort of thing we would expect from a judge, a commonplace on the order of "All are equal before the law." Alas, when juxtaposed with the haste mentioned by William, the haste mentioned by Bernard literally creates an effect of sense; and the reader is justified in wondering if the two men are saying the same thing, or if the loathing of haste expressed by William is not imperceptibly different from the loathing of haste expressed by Bernard. The text is there, and produces its own effects. Whether I wanted it this way or not, we are now faced with a question, an ambiguous provocation; and I myself feel embarrassment in interpreting this conflict, though I realize a meaning lurks there (perhaps many meanings do). Now, let me tell of an opposite case. [Helena Costiucovich before translating into Russian (masterfully) The Name of the Rose, wrote a long essay on it.] At a given point she remarks that there exists a book by Emile Henriot (La rose de Bratislava, 1946) where it can be found the hunting of a mysterious manuscript and a final fire of a library. The story takes place in Prague, and at the beginning of my novel I mention Prague. Moreover one of my librarians is named Berengar and one of the librarians of Henriot was named Berngard Marre. It is perfectly useless to say that, as an empirical author, I had never read Henriot's novel and that I ignored that it existed. I have read interpretations in which my critics found out sources of which I was fully aware, and I was very happy that they so cunningly discovered what I so cunningly concealed in order to lead them to find it (for instance the model of the couple Serenus Zeitblom Adrian in Mann's Doktor Faustus for the narrative relationship Adso-William). I have read of sources totally unknown to me, and I was delighted that somebody believed that I was eruditely quoting them (recently a young medievalist told me that a blind librarian was mentioned by Cassiodorus). I have read critical analyses in which the interpreter discovered influences of which I was unaware when writing but I certainly had read those books in my youth and I understood that I was unconsciously influenced by them (my friend Giorgio Celli said that among my remote readings there should have been the novels of Dmitri Mereskovskij, and I recognized that

he was true). As an uncommitted reader of The Name of the Rose I think that the argument of Helena Costiucovich is not proving anything interesting. The research of a mysterious manuscript and the fire of a library are very common literary topoi and I could quote many other books which use them. Prague was mentioned at the beginning of the story, but if instead of Prague I mentioned Budapest it would have been the same. Prague does not play a crucial role in my story. By the way, when the novel was translated in some eastern country (long before the perestrojka) some translators called me and said that it was difficult to mention, just at the opening of the book, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. I answered that that I did not approve any change of my text and that if there was some censure the responsibility was of the publisher. Then, as a joke, I added: "I put Prague at the beginning because it is one among my magic cities. But I also like Dublin. Put Dublin instead of Prague. It does not make any difference." They reacted: "But Dublin was not invaded by Russians!" I answered: "It is not my fault." Finally, Berengar and Berngard can be a coincidence. In any case the Model Reader can agree that four coincidences (manuscript, fire, Prague and Berengar) are interesting and as an empirical author I have no right to react. O.K.: to put a good face upon this accident , I formally acknowledge that my text had the intention to pay homage to Emily Henries. However, Helena Costiucovich wrote something more to prove the analogy between me and Henriot. She said that that in Henriot's novel the coveted manuscript was the original copy of the Memorie of Casanova. It happens that in my novel there is a minor character called Hugh of Newcastle (and in the Italian version, Ugo di Novocastro). The conclusion of Costiucovich is that "only by passing from a name to another it is possible to conceive of the name of the rose". As an empirical author I could say that Hugh of Newcastle is not an invention of mine but a historical figure, mentioned in the medieval sources I used; the episode of the meeting between the Franciscan legation and the Papal representatives literally quotes a medieval chronicle of the XIV century. But the reader has not the duty to know that, and my reaction cannot be taken into account. However I think to have the right to state my opinion as an uncommitted reader. First of all Newcastle is not a translation of Casanova, which should be translated as New House, and a castle is not a house (besides, in Italian, or in Latin, Novocastro means New City or New Encampment). Thus Newcastle suggests Casanova in the same way it could suggest Newton. But there are other elements that can textually prove that the hypothesis of Costiucovich is uneconomic. First of all, Hugh of Newcastle shows up in the novel, playing a very marginal role, and has nothing to do with the library. If the text wanted to suggest a pertinent relationship between Hugh and the library (as well as between him and the manuscript) it should have said something more. But the text does not say a word about that. Secondly, Casanova was -- at least on the light of a common shared encyclopedic knowledge -- a professional lover and a rake, and there is nothing in the novel which casts in doubt the virtue of Hugh. Third, there is no evident connection between a manuscript of Casanova and a manuscript of Aristotle and there is nothing in the novel which alludes to sexual incontinence as a value to be pursued. To look for the Casanova connection does not lead anywhere. (Obviously, I am ready to change my mind if some other interpreter demonstrates that the Casanova connection can lead to some interesting interpretive path, but for the moment being -- as a Model Reader of my own novel -- I feel entitle to say that such a hypotheses is scarcely rewarding.) Once during a debate a reader asked me what I meant by the sentence "the supreme happiness lies in having what you have". I felt disconcerted and I sweared that I had never written that sentence. I was sure of it, and for many reasons: first, I do not think that happiness lies in having what one has, and not even Snoopy would subscribe such a triviality. Secondly it is improbable that a medieval character would suppose that happiness lied in having what he actually had, since happiness for the medieval mind was a future state to be reached through present suffering. Thus I repeated that I had never written that line, and my interlocutor looked at me as at an author unable to recognize what he had written. Later I came across that quotation. It appears during the description of the erotic ecstasy of Adso in the

kitchen. This episode, as the dullest of my readers can easily guess, is entirely made up with quotations from the Song of Songs and from medieval mystics. In any case, even though the reader does not find out the sources, he/she can guess that these pages depict the feelings of a young man after his first (and probably last) sexual experience. If one goes to re-read the line in its context (I mean the context of my text, not necessarily the context of its medieval sources), one finds that the line reads: "O lord, when the soul is transported, the only virtue lies in having what you see, the supreme happiness is having what you have." Thus happiness lies in having what you have, but not in general and in every moment of your life, but only in the moment of the ecstatic vision. This is the case in which is unnecessary to know the intention of the empirical author: the intention of the text is blatant and, if English words have a conventional meaning, the text does not say what that reader -- obeying to some idiosyncratic drives -- believed to have read. Between the unattainable intention of the author and the arguable intention of the reader there is the transparent intention of the text which disproves an untenable interpretation. An author who has entitled his book The Name of the Rose must be ready to face manifold interpretations of his title. As an empirical author (Reflections, p.3 ) I wrote that I chose that title just in order to set the reader free: "the rose is a figure so rich in meanings that by now it has any meaning left: Dante's mystic rose, and go lovely rose, the Wars of the Roses, rose thou art sick, too many rings around Rosie, a rose by any other name, a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, the Rosicrucians..." Moreover someone has discovered that some early manuscripts of De Contemptu Mundi of Bernard de Morlay, from which I borrowed the exameter "stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus", read "stat Roma pristina nomine" -- which after all is more coherent with the rest of the poem, which speaks of the lost Babylon. Thus the title of my novel, had I come across another version of Morlay's poem, could have been The Name of Rome (thus acquiring fascist overtones). But the text reads The Name of the Rose and I understand now how difficult it was to stop the infinite series of connotations that word elicits. Probably I wanted to open the possible readings so much as to make each of them irrelevant, and a result I have produced an inexorable series of interpretations. But the text is there, and the empirical author has to remain silent. There are however (once again) cases in which the empirical author has the right to react as a Model Reader. I have enjoyed the beautiful book by Robert F. Fleissner, A Rose by Any Other Name - A survey of literary flora from Shakespeare to Eco (West Cornwall, Locust Hill Press, 1989) and I hope that Shakespeare would have been proud to find his name associated with mine. Among the various connections that Fleissner finds between my rose and all the other roses of world literature there an interesting passage: Fleissner wants to show "how Eco's rose derived from Doyle's "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty," which, in turn, owed much to Cuff's admiration of this flower in The Moonstone" (p.139). I am positively a Wilkie Collins' addict but I do not remember (and certainly I did not when writing my novel) of Cuff's floral passion. I believed to have read the opera omnia of Doyle but I must confess that I do not remember to have read "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty." It does not matter: in my novel there are so many explicit references to Holmes that my text can support also this connection. But in spite of my open mindedness, I find an instance of overinterpretation when Fleissner, trying to demonstrate how much my William 'echoes' Holmes' admiration for roses, quotes this passage from my book: "Frangula," William said suddenly, bending over to observe a plant that, on that winter day, he recognized from the bare bush. "A good infusion is made from the bark..." It is curious that Fleissner stops his quotation exactly after bark. My text continues, and after a comma reads: "for hemorrhoids." Honestly, I think that the Model Reader is not invited to take frangula as an allusion to the rose -- otherwise every plant could stand for a rose. Let me come now to the Foucault's Pendulum. I called Casaubon one the main character of my Foucault's Pendulum, and I was thinking of Isaac Casaubon, who demonstrated that the Corpus Hermeticum

was a forgery, and if one reads Foucault's Pendulum one can find some analogy between what the great philologist understood and what my character finally understands. I was aware that few readers would have been able to catch the allusion but I was equally aware that, in term of textual strategy, this was not indispensable (I mean that one can read my novel and understand my Causaubon even though disregarding the historical Casaubon -- many author like to put in their texts certain shibboleths for few smart readers). Before finishing my novel I discovered by chance that Casaubon was also a character of Middlemarch, a book that I read decades ago and which does not rank among my livres de chevet. That was a case in which, as a Model Author, I made an effort in order to eliminate a possible reference to George Eliot. At p. 63 of the English translation can be read the following exchange between Belbo and Casaubon: "By the way, what's your name?" "Casaubon." "Casaubon. Wasn't he a character in Middlemarch?" "I don't know. There was also a Renaissance philologist by that name, but we are not related." I did my best to avoid what I thought to be a useless reference to Mary Ann Evans. But then came a smart reader, David Robey, who remarked that, evidently not by chance, Eliot's Casaubon was writing a Key to all mythologies. As a Model Reader I feel obliged to accept that innuendo. Text plus encyclopedic knowledge entitle any cultivated reader to find that connection. It makes sense. Too bad for the empirical author who was not as smart as his readers. In the same vein my last novel is entitled Foucault's Pendulum because the pendulum I am speaking of was invented by Lon Foucault. If it were invented by Franklin the title would have been Franklin's Pendulum. This time I was aware from the very beginning that somebody could have smelled an allusion to Michel Foucault: my characters are obsessed by analogies and Foucault wrote on the paradigm of similarity. As an empirical author I was not so happy of such a possible connection. It sounds as a joke and not a clever one, indeed. But the pendulum invented by Lon was the hero of my story and could not change the title: thus I hoped that my Model Reader would not have tried a superficial connection with Michel. I was wrong, many smart readers did it. The text is there, maybe they are right, maybe I am responsible for a superficial joke, maybe the joke is not that superficial. I do not know. The whole affair is by now out of my control. Giosue Musca wrote a critical analysis of my last novel that I consider among the best I read. From the beginning he confesses however to have been corrupted by the habit of my characters and goes fishing for analogies. He masterfully isolates many ultraviolet quotations and stylistic analogies I wanted to be discovered, he finds other connections I did not think of but that look very persuasive, and he plays the role of a paranoiac reader by finding out connections that amaze me but that I am unable to disprove -- even though I know that they can mislead the reader. For instance it seems that the name of the computer, Abulafia, plus the name of the three main characters, Belbo, Casaubon and Diotallevi, produces the series ABCD. Useless to say that until the end of my work I gave the computer a different name: my readers can object that I unconsciously changed it just in order to obtain an alphabetic series. It seems that Jacopo Belbo is fond of whisky and his initials make JB. Useless to say that until the end of my work his first name was Stefano and that I changed it into Jacopo at the last moment. The only objection I can make as a Model Reader of my book is that (i) the alphabetical series ABCD is textually irrelevant if the names of the other characters do not bring it until X,Y and Z, that (ii) Belbo also drinks Martini and furthermore his mild alcoholic addiction is not the most relevant of his features. On the contrary I cannot disprove my reader when he also remarks that Pavese was born in a village called Santo Stefano Belbo and that my Belbo, a melancholic piedmontese, can recall Pavese. It is true that I spent my youth on the banks of the river Belbo (where I underwent some of the ordeals that I attributed to Jacopo Belbo, and a long time before I was informed of the existence of Cesare Pavese). But I knew that by choosing the name Belbo my text would have in some way evoked Pavese. And it is true that by designing my piedmontese character I also thought of Pavese. Thus my Model Reader is entitled to find such a

connection. I can only confess (as an empirical author, and as I said before) that in a first version the name of my character was Stefano Belbo. Then I changed it into Jacopo, because -- as a Model Author -- I did not want that my text made such a connection so blatantly perceptible. Evidently this was not enough, but my readers are right. Probably they would be right even though I called Belbo by any other name. I could keep going with examples of this sort, and I have chose only those that were more immediately comprehensible. I skipped other more complex cases because I risked to engage too much myself upon matters of philosophical or aesthetical interpretation. I hope my listeners will agree that I have introduced the empirical author in this game only in order to stress his irrelevance and to re-assert the rights of the text. Let me now to mention some cases in which the reader can help the author to write another book, or in any case to understand better the way he/she writes. The first movie director who asked me to make a film out of The Name of the Rose was my friend Marco Ferreri. Among other nice things he said: "Moreover, I don't even need to rewrite the dialogues, because they look as if they were designed for a movie". I felt astonished, and a little upset, because certainly I didn't write thinking for a movie script. But suddenly I realized tyhat while writing I had under my eyes the map of the abbey (as a matter of fact before writing I carefully design the world where my story has to take place) and obviously, if two characters were crossing the abbey's court I made them to speak more or less the time needed to walk from one point to another. It was not as much a problem of realism as a question of rhythm control. After Foucault's Pendulum a French journalist asked me how did I succeed in describing spaces so well. I felt flattered, and I repeated that perhaps that happened because I usually write by looking to a sort of visual setting that I have previously designed. But it was not enough: as a matter of fact, what does it mean to look to a spatial setting and to render it through words? It was after that interview that I stated being concerned with the theoretical problem of hypotiposis. As you probably know hypotipoisis is the rhetorical effect by which words succeed in rendering a visual scene; unfortunately all the rhetoricians that wrote about hypothiposis, from the eniquity up to our times, provided only circular definitions -- that is, in order to answer the question they restated the question as if it was the answer. They said more or less that hypotiposis is the figure by which one creates a visual effect through words. Requested to say how does it happen, they simply repeated that this happens. In the last years I have analyzed many literary texts in order to isolate different techniques by which a writer, using sounds, brings so to speak images under the reader's eyes, and I particularly focused my attention on the description of spaces. But at the same time I felt the blind compulsion to write a novel in which the main characters were space and light. The very reason why in my last novel, The Island of the Day Before, I put a shipwreck on a boat, in face of an island that he was unable to reach, is exactly that: I wanted to tell a story of spaces (and light) and in order to keep my space untouched I wanted to write a story of an insuperable distance. That is the reason why I decided that my main character was unable to swim. There are many authors that, in order to give the reader the impression of a sort of unending space, look at it, so to speak, from the point of view of an ant. I can walk from here to there in few steps, but the same space, from the point of view of an ant, is a long and tiring way (Eliot used such a technique in Prufrock, by describing the streets from the point of view of the fog). Let me call this technique fractalisation of space. Thus my character, trying to swim, and making few feets at any attempt, always remained far from the island which, in some way, never approached but rather shrank back at every effort of the swimmer. If in the course of this process you keep describing the sea and the image of the coast, you provide your readers with the experience of a continuously broadening space. At the end of my speech I feel however the impression to have been scarcely generous with the empirical author. There is at least a case in which the witness of the empirical author acquires an important function. Not so much in order to better understand his texts, but certainly in order to understand the creative process. To understand the creative process also means to understand how certain textual solutions come to being by

serendipity, or as the result of unconscious mechanisms. This helps to understand the difference between the textual strategy, as a linguistic object that the Model Readers have under their eyes (so that they can go on independently of the empirical author's intentions), and the story of the growth of that textual strategy. Some of the examples I have made can work in this direction. Let me add now two other curious examples which have a privilege: they really concern only my personal life and do not have any detectable textual counterpart. They have nothing to do with the business of interpretation. They can only tell how a text, which is a machine conceived in order to elicit interpretations, sometimes grows out of a magmatic territory which has nothing -- or not yet -- to do with literature. First story. In Foucault's Pendulum the young Casaubon is in love with a Brazilian girl called Amparo. Giosue Musca found, tongue-in-cheek, a connection with Ampre who studied the magnetic force between two currents. Too smart. I did not know why I chose that name: I realized that it was not a Brazilian name, so that I was pulled to write (p. 161) "I never did understand how it was that Amparo, a descendant of Dutch settlers in Recife who intermarried with Indians and Sudanese blacks -- with her Jamaican face and Parisian culture -- had wound up with a Spanish name." This means that I took the name Amparo as if it came from outside my novel. Months after the publication of the novel a friend asked me: "Why Amparo? Is it not the name of a mountain, or of a girl who looks at a mountain?" And then he explained: "There is that song, Guajira Guantanamera, which mentions something like Amparo." Oh my God. I knew very well that song, even though I did not remember a single word of it. It was sung, in the mid fifties, by a girl with which I was in love at that time. She was Latin American, and very beautiful. She was not Brazilian, not Marxist, not black, not hysterical, as Amparo is, but it is clear that, when inventing a Latin American charming girl, I unconsciously thought of that other image of my youth, when I had the same age of Casaubon. I thought of that song, and in some way the name Amparo (that I had completely forgot) transmigrated from my unconscious to the page. This story is fully irrelevant for the interpretation of my text. As far as the text is concerned Amparo is Amparo is Amparo is Amparo. Second story. In my last novel, my character Robereto has a double, Ferrante, and during his childhood he suspects that his parents did not tell him about his existence. I decided to put in my story a secret and unknown brother because the double was a sort of must, of mandatory presence in the framework of the Baroque novel. I adopted this sort of narrative standard before knowing what I could have done with such an intruding and embarassing brother, and only at the middle of the story his quasi-necessary presence encouraged me to make Roberto to invent a story within the story. Later my sister, reading the novel, told me that I had used Rosetta. Who was Rosetta? I had forgotten her, but when my sister mentioned her I recalled the whole story. It happened that when we were children, and playing together, we invented a secret sister, Rosetta, whom our parents concealed to us for some mysterious reasons -- and we had a lot of fun tormenting our mother by asking her to tell us about Rosetta, and the poor woman was absolutely flabbergasted and did not understand what we were talking about. True. I believed to have found Ferrante in some old books while in fact I was disguising under male clothes the ghost of that girl who obsessed my early years. Third story. Those who have read my Name of the Rose know that there is a mysterious manuscript, that it contains the lost second book of Aristotle Poetics, that its pages are annointed with poison and that (at p. 570 of the paperback edition) it is described like this: "He read the first page aloud, then stopped, as if he were not interested in knowing more, and rapidly leafed through the following pages. But after a few pages he encountered resistance, because near the upper corner of the side edge, and along the top, some pages had stuck together, as happens when the damp and deteriorating papery substance forms a kind of sticky paste..." I wrote these lines at the end of 1979. In the following years, perhaps also because after The Name of the Rose I started to be more frequently in touch with librarians and book collectors (and certainly because I had

a little more money at my disposal) I became a regular rare books collector. It had happened before, in the course of my life, that I bought some old book, but by chance, and only when they were very cheap. Only in the last decade I have become a serious book collector, and 'serious' means that one has to consult specialized catalogues and must write, for every book, a technical file, with the collation, historical information on the previous or following editions, and a precise description of the physical state of the copy. This last job requires a technical jargon, in order to precisely name foxed, browned, waterstained, soiled, washed or crisp leaves, cropped margins, erasures, re-baked bindings, rubbed joints and so on. One day, rummaging through the upper shelves of my home library I discovered an edition of the Poetics of Aristotle, commented by Antonio Riccoboni, Padova 1587. I had forgot to have it, I found on the endpaper a 1000 written in pencil, and this means that I bought it somewhere for 1000 liras, more or less 80 cents, probably twenty or more years before. My catalogues said that it was the second edition, not exceedingly rare, that there is a copy of it at the British Museum, but I was happy to have it because it seems difficult to find and in any case the commentary of Riccoboni is less known and less quoted than those, let say, of Robortello or Castelvetro. Then I started writing my description. I copied the title page and I discovered that the edition had an Appendix "Ejusdem Ars Comica ex Aristotele". This means that Riccoboni tried to re-construct the lost second book of the Poetics. It was not however an unusual endeavor, and I went on to set up the physical description of the copy. Then it happened to me what happened to a certain Zatesky described by Lurja, who, having lost part of his brain during the war, and with part of the brain the whole of his memory and of his speaking ability, was nevertheless still able to write: thus automatically his hand wrote down all the information he was unable to think of, and step by step he reconstructed his own identity by reading what he was writing. Likewise, I was looking coldly and technically at the book, writing my description, and suddenly I realized that I was re-writing The Name of the Rose. The only difference was that from page 120, when the Ars Comica begins, the lower and not the upper margins were severely damaged; but all the rest was the same, the pages progressively browned and dampstained at the end stuck together, and looked as if they were ointed with a disgusting fat substance. I had in my hands, in printed form, the manuscript I described in my novel. I had had it for years and years at my reach, at home. At a first moment I thought of an extraordinary coincidence; then I was tempted to believe in a miracle; at the end I decided that who Es war, soll Ich werden. I bought that book in my youth, I skimmed through it, I realized that it was exaggeratedly soiled, I put it somewhere and I forgot it. But by a sort of internal camera I photographed those pages, and for decades the image of those poisonous leaves lied in the most remote part of my soul, as in a grave, until the moment it emerged again (I do not know for which reasons) and I believed to have invented it. These three stories have nothing to do with a possible interpretation of my novels. If they have a moral it is that the private life of the empirical authors is under a certain respect more unfathomable than their texts. At least as much unfathomable as the soul of the readers. However, between the mysterious process of textual production and the uncontrollable drift of its future readings, the text qua text still represents a confortable presence, the point to which we can stick. It Was the Bean that Set the Pulses Racing This edited article was translated by William Weaver from the Italian -- New York Times Syndicate THE BEST INVENTION: Umberto Eco shows how after 1000 AD the cultivation of beans, peas and lentils had a profound effect on European civilisation A thousand years ago we were squarely in the middle ages. Of course, "Middle Ages" is a scholastic convention. For example, in certain countries -- including Italy -- the term "Middle Ages" is employed even when the writer is referring to the time of Dante and Petrarch; in other countries, scholars already speak of

these years as the Renaissance. To make things a bit clearer, let us say that there are at least two "Middle Ages": one lasting from the fall of the Roman Empire (fifth century A.D.) to the year 999, and the other, beginning in the year 1000 and continuing at least until the 15th century. Now the Middle Ages before the year 1000 can deservedly be called the Dark Ages, a term carelessly used to cover all the centuries between the 5th and the 14th. I say "deservedly" not because those Ages were full of burnings at the stake, for there were flames and pyres also in the highly civil 17th and 18th centuries, or because superstitious beliefs were widespread, for when it comes to superstitions -- though for different reasons -- our own New Age is second to none. No, they can deservedly be called the Dark Ages because the barbarian invasions that took place during this time beset Europe for centuries and gradually destroyed Roman civilization. Cities were deserted, in ruins; the great highways, neglected, disappeared under a tangle of weeds; and fundamental techniques were forgotten, including the processes of mining and quarrying. The land was no longer cultivated and, at least until the feudal reform of Charlemagne, entire agricultural areas reverted to forest. In this sense, the Middle Ages before 1000 AD were a period of indigence, hunger, insecurity. In his splendid La civilisation de l'Occident mediaevale, rich in observations of everyday life in the Middle Ages, Jacques Le Goff illustrated how impoverished this time was by recounting popular tales. In one such story, a saint appears magically to retrieve a sickle that a peasant had accidentally dropped down a well. In an era when iron had become rare, the loss of a sickle would have been a terrible thing, making it impossible for the peasant to continue harvesting: the sickle's blade was irreplaceable. As the population became smaller and less strong physically, people were mowed down by endemic diseases (tuberculosis, leprosy, ulcers, eczema, tumours) and by dread epidemics like the plague. It is always risky to venture demographic calculations for past millennia, but according to some scholars, Europe in the seventh century had shrunk to roughly 14 million inhabitants; others posit 17 million for the eighth century. Underpopulation combined with undercultivated land left nearly everyone undernourished. As the second millennium approached, however, the figures changed -- the population grew. Some experts calculate a total of 22 million Europeans in 950; others speak of 42 million in 1000. In the 14th century, Europe's population hovered between 60 million and 70 million. Though the figures differ, on one point there is agreement: in the five centuries after the year 1000, Europe's population doubled, maybe even tripled. The reasons for Europe's boom are hard to pinpoint; between the 11th and 13th centuries, radical transformations occurred in political life, in art, in the economy and, as we shall see, in technology. This new surge of physical energy and of ideas was evident to those living at the time. The monk Radulphus Glaber, born in the very last years of the first millennium, began writing his famous Historiarum (known in English as "Five Books of the Histories") about 30 years later. The monk did not have a particularly merry view of life, and he tells of a famine in 1033, describing atrocious instances of cannibalism among the poorest peasants. But somehow he sensed that, with the year 1000, a new spirit was stirring in the world, and things -- which until then had gone very badly -- were taking a positive turn. Thus he burst forth in an almost lyrical passage, which still stands out in the annals of the Middle Ages. In it, he told how, at the end of the millennium, the earth suddenly blossomed, like a meadow in spring: "It was already the third year after 1000, when, in the whole world, but especially in Italy and the regions of Gaul, there was a renewal of the basilical churches . . . each Christian nation strove to achieve the most beautiful. It seemed that the very earth, stirring itself and shaking off old age, was newly clad with a white mantle of churches." Now the flowering of Romanesque art (for that is what Radulphus was talking about) did not suddenly take place in 1003; Radulphus was writing more as a poet than as an historian. But he was talking about a rivalry of power and prestige among various city-states; he was talking about new architectural techniques and of an economic resurgence, for you cannot build such churches without wealth behind you; he was talking about churches conceived in dimensions larger than their predecessors -churches capable of accommodating a growing population.

Naturally it can be said that, with the reforms of Charlemagne, with the construction of the Germanic empire, with the rejuvenation of cities and the birth of the communes, the economic situation also improved. But would it not also be possible to say the opposite, namely that the political situation evolved, the cities flourished anew, because daily life and working conditions were improved by something? In the centuries before 1000, a new triennial system of crop rotation was slowly adopted, allowing the land to be more fruitful. But cultivation requires tools and working animals, and on this front there were breakthroughs too. Just before the year 1000, horses began to be fitted with iron horseshoes (up until then, the hooves were bound with cloth) and with stirrups. The latter, of course, were more for the benefit of knights than for peasants. For the peasants, it was the invention of a new kind of collar for horses, oxen and other beasts of burden that proved revolutionary. The old collars put all the strain on the animal's neck muscles, compromising its windpipe. The new collar involved the chest muscles, increasing the animal's efficiency by at least two-thirds, and permitting, for certain tasks, horses to replace oxen (oxen were better suited to the old type of collars, but they also worked at a slower pace than horses). Moreover, whereas in the past horses had been yoked in a horizontal line, now they could be yoked in single file, significantly increasing their capacity for pulling. Around this time, ploughing methods changed. Now the plough had two wheels and two blades, one for cutting the earth and the other -- the ploughshare -- for turning it over. Though this "machine" was already known to Nordic people as early as the second century BC, it was not until the 12th century that it spread throughout Europe. But what I really want to talk about is beans, and not just beans but also peas and lentils. All these fruits of the earth are rich in vegetable proteins, as anyone who goes on a low-meat diet knows, for the nutritionist will be sure to insist that a nice dish of lentils or split peas has the nutritional value of a thick, juicy steak. Now the poor, in those remote Middle Ages, did not eat meat, unless they managed to raise a few chickens or engaged in poaching (the game of the forest was the property of the lords). And as I mentioned earlier, this poor diet begat a population that was ill nourished, thin, sickly, short and incapable of tending the fields. So when, in the 10th century, the cultivation of legumes began to spread, it had a profound effect on Europe. Working people were able to eat more protein; as a result, they became more robust, lived longer, created more children and repopulated a continent. We believe that the inventions and the discoveries that have changed our lives depend on complex machines. But the fact is, we are still here -- I mean we Europeans, but also those descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers and the Spanish conquistadors -- because of beans. Without beans, the European population would not have doubled within a few centuries, today we would not number in the hundreds of millions and some of us, including even readers of this article, would not exist. Some philosophers say that this would be better, but I am not sure everyone agrees. And what about the non-Europeans? I am unfamiliar with the history of beans on other continents, but surely even without European beans, the history of those continents would have been different, just as the commercial history of Europe would have been different without Chinese silk and Indian spices. Above all, it seems to me that this story of beans is of some significance for us today. In the first place, it tells us that ecological problems must be taken seriously. Secondly, we have all known for a long time that if the West ate unmilled brown rice, husks and all (delicious, by the way), we would consume less food, and better food. But who thinks of such things? Everyone will say that the greatest invention of the millennium is television or the microchip. But it would be a good thing if we learned to learn something from the Dark Ages too. Literary Game of Drafts Umberto Eco on... technology and ghosts in the machine The Guardian, Saturday 30 March 2002

Philologists are often interested in seeing how an author goes from the first to the last draft of a text, and they love to look at its various versions. This activity is often called "notebook criticism". To be a good critic of notebook scribbles, or of versions of texts, it's crucial that an author has left behind various handwritten phases of his work. For example, we have the various phases through which Alessandro Manzoni's La Pentecoste passed, and it's very interesting to follow the changes of heart, the substantial upheavals and the minimal variations that the author made to his text. Similarly, it is moving to see at the National library of Naples, the phases through which some of Giacomo Leopardi's most beautiful poems became those that we know today. And we come to understand how a minor correction radically changed the magic of a verse. To make sense of the changes to a text, it is necessary, of course, for an author to have left behind indications of what was changed from the original manuscript. If we are dealing, for example, with an author such as Dante Alighieri - not even the manuscript of The Divine Comedy remains - then the game is over before it begins. The question of manuscript changes is very important for literary criticism, the psychology of creation and other aspects of the study of literature. So it makes sense that the Institute of Texts and Modern Manuscripts at the National Centre of Scientific Research in Paris dedicates many conventions and seminars to the subject. A recent seminar focused on a question that's often looked at the wrong way: isn't it the case that the common practice today of writing texts directly on a computer - so that there is only one definitive printed version - kills the study of changes? Now, let's assume that an author drafts the first version of his text, and let's call this version A. To simplify things, let's assume that the author wrote it directly on a computer, or that if he had made any handwritten notes, they have disappeared. This version A is printed, and at that point, the author begins correcting it by hand. In this way, we get version B, which in turn is transferred to computer, where again it is cleaned up and printed anew and becomes version C. In turn, this version is altered by hand and again recopied as version D on the computer, from which a new version will be created: version E. Since computers encourage corrections and reconstructions, this is how the process can give rise to - if the author does not throw the intermediate steps in the wastepaper basket - a series of versions, let's say from A to Z. So that's good news for the philologists, who in theory should have more to work with, not less. But the matter does not end here. Let's go back to version B, which was version A, printed and corrected by hand, and let's imagine it was quite tortured. In transferring it to the computer, does the author reproduce it word for word? Almost never. Just think about the common practice of composing a simple letter, when we are liable to do a draft, erase or rewrite. In transcribing, new versions are introduced, and perhaps we write down something that we had changed but then regret it, erase it and take another crack at it. And here - when we print out the version again - we do not have that version C, which was supposed to faithfully reproduce version B. Instead, out comes a version that we will call X, but between B and X there are "ghost" versions, each one different from the other. It could be the case, though rare, that the author - narcissistic and fanatical about his own changes, and using some kind of special computer program - has kept somewhere, inside the memory of the machine, all these intermediate changes. But usually this does not happen. Those "ghost" copies have vanished; they are erased as soon as the work is finished.

And so the work of the philologists of the future will be based on conjecture, on what those "ghost" copies might have contained - and who knows how many great texts and other erudite publications will be born from that conjecture? To outsiders, they might seem like problems suited only for college exams. But the discussion shows that the use of mechanical systems for writing doesn't necessarily simplify and thereby mechanise the creative activity, but rather can make it that much more shaded and complex. For example, who says that the possibility of endlessly correcting a text ad infinitum necessarily improves the work? Well, we all know that the best is the enemy of the good. Or, it is true that with a writing program, one can determine (even with a text of hundreds of pages) how many times the same word is repeated and decide to substitute it with synonyms or paraphrasing? But we know, that, for example, Manzoni's vocabulary was very poor, and the word "good" in his novel I Promessi Sposi appears, to some at least, to have been used excessively. Would Manzoni have benefited from having a computer, eliminating all these repetitions, or would he have made his prose more baroque and less limpid? An Elementary Guide to Afghanistan and Baker St A well-known British medical officer was wounded in in a distant war. Umberto Eco draws deductions from a surprising tale of valour The Guardian, Saturday 19 January 2002 13.33 GMT We all know that the British and American military authorities do not allow much news to leak out about what is happening in Afghanistan, but it is enough to read closely. For example, the case I will now tell you about occurred long before the war moved to the vicinity of Kandahar. The person whose story I'm going to relate enrolled as a medical officer in the English deployment in Afghanistan. He registered in that very selective group known as the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers, but, as it happens, he was transferred to the Royal Berkshires. As part of that outfit, he found himself facing Afghan fighters to the north-west of Kandahar, more or less near Mundabad. That's where an error in "intelligence" occurred. The English were told that there were fewer Afghans than was the case and that they were more poorly armed. The English went on the attack and they were massacred - at least 40% died - at the mountain pass called Khusk-i-Nakhud. The country's mountain passes are terrible and, as journalists have reported, the Afghans are not accustomed to taking prisoners. Our friend was hit in the shoulder by a bullet from one of those deadly - if antiquated - Jezail muskets. The bullet cracked the bone and cut off the subclavian artery, and our hero was barely saved by a brave orderly. He returned to London to recuperate, and a little episode lets him know how much the memory of that tragic battle was in everyone's mind. When he meets the person with whom he is going to share an apartment, the roommate says to him, "From what I can tell, you were in Afghanistan." Asked later to explain how he knew that, the person says he thought to himself: "This man has something medical and something military about him. He's been in a tropical climate, because he has a very dark face, but that is not his natural colouring, because his wrists are pale. He has suffered hardships and illnesses, as his emaciated face demonstrates. In addition, he was wounded in his left arm. He keeps the arm in a rigid and not very natural position. "In which tropical country could a doctor in the British army have been forced to put up with difficult exertion and hardships? In Afghanistan, of course."

This conversation took place in Baker Street. The medic was Dr Watson. His interlocutor was Sherlock Holmes. Watson was wounded in what at the time was known as the battle of Maiwand, on July 27, 1880. In London, the newspaper The Graphic reported it on August 7 (news reports were delayed back then). We know about it from the early chapters of A Study In Scarlet. The experience marked Watson for ever. In the story The Boscombe Valley Mystery, he says his experience in Afghanistan made him forever a prepared and inexhaustible traveller. But when, in The Sign Of Four, Holmes offers him some cocaine, Watson says that after his duty in Afghanistan, his body cannot handle new experiences. Shortly afterwards, he says he likes to stay seated and take care of his wounded arm, which suffers with each change in temperature. In The Musgrave Ritual, Watson reflects on the ways in which the Afghan campaign left deep marks on him. In fact, Watson always loved to talk about his time in Afghanistan, but people usually wouldn't listen. With much effort (in The Reigate Squires), he persuades Holmes to visit a fellow soldier, Colonel Hayter. In The Naval Treaty, he tries in vain to interest a certain Phelps - a peevish and nervous person - in his Afghan adventures. In The Sign of Four, he busies himself trying to tell war stories to Miss Morstan, and manages to pique her interest only once. Veterans, especially if wounded, are boring. But the memory of Afghanistan is always present. In The Adventure Of The Empty House, while talking about Holmes's arch enemy, Moriarty, he comes upon the file of a Colonel Moran, "the second-most dangerous man in London", who served in Kabul. Echoes of the Afghan war return in The Crooked Man. Finally, in both The Adventure Of The Cardboard Box and in The Resident Patient, Holmes pulls off a masterstroke of what he erroneously calls "deduction". While they are seated, relaxing in their apartment, Holmes suddenly comments on war without prompting: "You are right Watson. It does seem to me to be the most ridiculous way to resolve a dispute." Watson agrees, but then he asks how Holmes knew what he was thinking. The explanation: by following the simple movement of Watson's eyes to the various parts of the room, Holmes was able to reconstruct precisely Watson's train of thought. And then, realising that his friend was thinking about various and terrible wartime episodes, and seeing that his friend touched the old wound, Holmes inferred that he was dejectedly thinking about how war is the most absurd way to settle international disputes. Elementary, my dear Watson. The Art of Creating a Legend What distinguishes 'literature' from 'light fiction'? Umberto Eco looks to the past for an answer The Guardian, Saturday 20 July 2002 I've read that there have been animated discussions in France over the protests of the town of VillersCotteret - the birthplace of Alexandre Dumas - at having the ashes of their author moved to the Panthon in Paris. I fear that in Italy, many would also protest if this great popular narrator (it's a bit of a stretch to ascribe to him this kind of canonisation) were to be buried next to those who are already canonised by way of scholastic decree. But in truth, we are not the only ones who have a difficult time discriminating between literature and the so-called "light fiction". Certainly, light fiction exists and encompasses mysteries or second-class romance novels, books that are read on the beach, whose only aim is to entertain. These books are not concerned with style or creativity instead they are successful because they are repetitive and follow a template that readers enjoy.

If this is the case, then did Dumas aim to write light fiction, or did he not even worry about such things - as some of his critical and controversial writings would suggest? He had "slaves" who helped write numerous books and he wrote lengthily to earn more money. But with some works, he was able to create characters we can define as "legendary," who populated the collective imagination, and who are copied and retold as happens with such characters of legend and fairy tales. Sometimes he succeeded in creating a legend by pure literary ability: The Three Musketeers is quick; it reads like a sheet of jazz music and even when he produces those dialogues, which I have defined as "piecemeal dialogues": two or three pages of short and unnecessary quips (which he does merely for length), Dumas does it with "boulevardier" grace. And what about The Count of Monte Cristo? I have written previously about how once I decided to translate it. I would find phrases such as: "He rose from the chair upon which he was sitting." Well, which other chair should he have risen from, if not from that upon which he was sitting? All I had to say in my translation was, "He rose from the chair", or even "He rose", as it is already clear he was sitting at a table. I calculated that I had saved the reader at least 25% reading time by shortening Dumas's language. But then I realised that it was exactly those extra words and repetition that had a fundamental strategic function - they created anticipation and tension - they delayed the final event and were fundamental for the excellent vendetta to work so effectively. That this was Dumas's great narrative capacity is clear today in rereading his contemporary, Eugene Sue, who at the time was more famous than Dumas. If we reread The Mysteries of Paris - which produced collective hysteria through character identification and also offered political and social solutions - we realise that the added words and phrases make the book heavier than lead to read, and we can read it only as a document, not as the novel it was intended to be. Therefore, are there virtues in writing which are not necessarily identified with linguistic creation, but are part of rhythm and shrewd dosage, and cross the boundary, albeit infinitesimally, between literature and light fiction? The novel, like a legend, begins in the language, in the sense that Oedipus or Medea are typical characters and are exemplary simply because of their actions even before they become the great Greek tragedies. Similarly even Red Riding Hood or the characters in African or Native-American mythology function as models of life beyond the poetry which overtakes them and creates another layer to them. Does the novel have to deepen the psychology of its heroes? Certainly the modern novel does, but the ancient legends did not do the same. Oedipus' psychology was deduced by Aeschylus or Freud, but the character is simply there, fixed in a pure and terribly disquieting state. Particularly in Italy, we are led to identify the novel with prose as art and by a short circuit with poetry, a kind of "proetry". And yet Stendhal used the prose of the civil code; Italo Svevo, it is said, wrote badly, and if we want something "poetic", there is more poetry in Liala than in Alberto Moravia. The problem is that the novel must "tell a story" and enliven exemplary characters even if it only describes their external behaviour. The psychology of D'Artagnan is amusing, but the character becomes legendary. The psychology of Julien Sorel is complex and therefore I agree that there is a distinction between the historical novel, which makes us understand an entire era through its heroes, and a cloak-and-dagger novel, which takes place in a certain time period but could have easily taken place in another era and would have remained equally appealing. But here we are not talking about works of art whose greatness and density of layers no one disputes. We are talking about mythical writings, which are another thing. Fundamentally, Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allais

also lengthened their works to make more money. Their stories of Fantomas are not an example of exalted writings, and yet the man became an urban legend who obsessed the Surrealists and others. The Rocambole of Pierre-Alexis Ponson du Terrail still entertains us, but he has not become a legend. Why? There are dazzling original models and narrative strategies that still need to be studied and compared in depth. Vegetal and Mineral Memory: The Future of Books The city of Alexandria played host on 1 November to the renowned Italian novelist and scholar Umberto Eco, who gave a lecture in English, on varieties of literary and geographic memory, at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Al-Ahram Weekly publishes the complete text of the lecture WE HAVE THREE TYPES OF MEMORY. The first one is organic, which is the memory made of flesh and blood and the one administrated by our brain. The second is mineral, and in this sense mankind has known two kinds of mineral memory: millennia ago, this was the memory represented by clay tablets and obelisks, pretty well known in this country, on which people carved their texts. However, this second type is also the electronic memory of today's computers, based upon silicon. We have also known another kind of memory, the vegetal one, the one represented by the first papyruses, again well known in this country, and then on books, made of paper. Let me disregard the fact that at a certain moment the vellum of the first codices were of an organic origin, and the fact that the first paper was made with rugs and not with wood. Let me speak for the sake of simplicity of vegetal memory in order to designate books. This place has been in the past and will be in the future devoted to the conservation of books; thus, it is and will be a temple of vegetal memory. Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not know. If you will allow me to use such a metaphor, a library is the best possible imitation, by human beings, of a divine mind, where the whole universe is viewed and understood at the same time. A person able to store in his or her mind the information provided by a great library would emulate in some way the mind of God. In other words, we have invented libraries because we know that we do not have divine powers, but we try to do our best to imitate them. To build, or better to rebuild, today one of the greatest libraries of the world might sound like a challenge, or a provocation. It happens frequently that in newspaper articles or academic papers some authors, facing the new computer and internet era, speak of the possible "death of books". However, if books are to disappear, as did the obelisks or the clay tablets of ancient civilisations, this would not be a good reason to abolish libraries. On the contrary, they should survive as museums conserving the finds of the past, in the same way as we conserve the Rosetta Stone in a museum because we are no longer accustomed to carving our documents on mineral surfaces. Yet, my praise for libraries will be a little more optimistic. I belong to the people who still believe that printed books have a future and that all fears propos of their disappearance are only the last example of other fears, or of milleniaristic terrors about the end of something, the world included. In the course of many interviews I have been obliged to answer questions of this sort: "Will the new electronic media make books obsolete? Will the Web make literature obsolete? Will the new hypertextual civilisation eliminate the very idea of authorship?" As you can see, if you have a well-balanced normal mind, these are different questions and, considering the apprehensive mode in which they are asked, one might think that the interviewer would feel reassured when your answer is, "No, keep cool, everything is OK". Mistake. If you tell such people that books, literature, authorship will not disappear, they look

desperate. Where, then, is the scoop? To publish the news that a given Nobel Prize winner has died is a piece of news; to say that he is alive and well does not interest anybody -- except him, I presume. WHAT I WANT TO DO TODAY is to try to unravel a skein of intertwined apprehensions about different problems. To clarify our ideas about these different problems can also help us to understand better what we usually mean by book, text, literature, interpretation, and so on. Thus you will see how from a silly question many wise answers can be produced, and such is probably the cultural function of naive interviews. Let us start with an Egyptian story, even though one told by a Greek. According to Plato in Phaedrus when Hermes, or Theut, the alleged inventor of writing, presented his invention to the Pharaoh Thamus, the Pharaoh praised such an unheard of technique supposed to allow human beings to remember what they would otherwise forget. But Thamus was not completely happy. "My skillful Theut," he said, "memory is a great gift that ought to be kept alive by continuous training. With your invention people will no longer be obliged to train their memory. They will remember things not because of an internal effort, but by mere virtue of an external device." We can understand the preoccupation of Thamus. Writing, like any other new technological invention, would have made torpid the human power which it pretended to substitute and reinforce. Writing was dangerous because it decreased the powers of mind by offering human beings a petrified soul, a caricature of mind, a mineral memory. Plato's text is ironical, naturally. Plato was writing down his argument against writing. But he was also pretending that his discourse was told by Socrates, who did not write (since he did not publish, he perished in the course of the academic fight.) Nowadays, nobody shares Thamus's preoccupations for two very simple reasons. First of all, we know that books are not ways of making somebody else think in our place; on the contrary, they are machines that provoke further thoughts. Only after the invention of writing was it possible to write such a masterpiece of spontaneous memory as Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Secondly, if once upon a time people needed to train their memories in order to remember things, after the invention of writing they had also to train their memories in order to remember books. Books challenge and improve memory; they do not narcotise it. However, the Pharaoh was instantiating an eternal fear: the fear that a new technological achievement could kill something that we consider precious and fruitful. I used the verb to kill on purpose because more or less 14 centuries later Victor Hugo, in his Notre Dame de Paris, narrated the story of a priest, Claude Frollo, looking in sadness at the towers of his cathedral. The story of Notre Dame de Paris takes places in the XVth century after the invention of printing. Before that, manuscripts were reserved to a restricted elite of literate persons, and the only thing to teach the masses about the stories of the Bible, the life of Christ and of the Saints, the moral principles, even the deeds of national history or the most elementary notions of geography and natural sciences (the nature of unknown peoples and the virtues of herbs or stones), was provided by the images of a cathedral. A mediaeval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV programme that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation. Now, however, Frollo has on his table a printed book, and he whispers "ceci tuera cela": this will kill that, or, in other words, the book will kill the cathedral, the alphabet will kill images. The book will distract people from their most important values, encouraging unnecessary information, free interpretation of the Scriptures, insane curiosity. During the sixties, Marshall McLuhan wrote his book The Gutenberg Galaxy, where he announced that the linear way of thinking supported by the invention of printing was on the verge of being substituted by a more global way of perceiving and understanding through TV images or other kinds of electronic devices. If not McLuhan, then certainly many of his readers pointed their finger first at a TV screen and then to a

printed book, saying "this will kill that". Were McLuhan still among us, today he would have been the first to write something like "Gutenberg strikes back". Certainly, a computer is an instrument by means of which one can produce and edit images, certainly instructions are provided by means of icons; but it is equally certainly that the computer has become first of all an alphabetic instrument. On its screen there run words and lines, and in order to use a computer you must be able to write and to read. Are there differences between the first Gutenberg Galaxy and the second one? Many. First of all, only the archaeological word processors of the early eighties provided a sort of linear written communication. Today, computers are no longer linear in so far as they display a hypertextual structure. Curiously enough, the computer was born as a Turing machine, able to make a single step at a time, and in fact, in the depths of the machine, language still works in this way, by a binary logic, of zero-one, zero-one. However, the machine's output is no longer linear: it is an explosion of semiotic fireworks. Its model is not so much a straight line as a real galaxy where everybody can draw unexpected connections between different stars to form new celestial images at any new navigation point. YET IT IS EXACTLY AT THIS POINT that our unravelling activity must start because by hypertextual structure we usually mean two very different phenomena. First, there is the textual hypertext. In a traditional book one must read from left to right (or right to left, or up to down, according to different cultures) in a linear way. One can obviously skip through the pages, one -- once arrived at page 300 -- can go back to check or re- read something at page 10 -- but this implies physical labour. In contrast to this, a hypertextual text is a multidimensional network or a maze in which every point or node can be potentially connected with any other node. Second, there is the systemic hypertext. The WWW is the Great Mother of All Hypertexts, a world-wide library where you can, or you will in short time, pick up all the books you wish. The Web is the general system of all existing hypertexts. Such a difference between text and system is enormously important, and we shall come back to it. For the moment, let me liquidate the most naive among the frequently asked questions, in which this difference is not yet so clear. But it will be in answering this first question that we will be able to clarify our further point. The naive question is: "Will hypertextual diskettes, the internet, or multimedia systems make books obsolete?" With this question we have arrived at the final chapter in our this-will-kill-that story. But even this question is a confused one, since it can be formulated in two different ways: (a) will books disappear as physical objects, and (b) will books disappear as virtual objects? Let me first answer the first question. Even after the invention of printing, books were never the only instrument for acquiring information. There were also paintings, popular printed images, oral teaching, and so on. Simply, books have proved to be the most suitable instrument for transmitting information. There are two sorts of book: those to be read and those to be consulted. As far as books-to-be-read are concerned, the normal way of reading them is the one that I would call the "detective story way". You start from page one, where the author tells you that a crime has been committed, you follow every path of the detection process until the end, and finally you discover that the guilty one was the butler. End of the book and end of your reading experience. Notice that the same thing happens even if you read, let us say, a philosophical treatise. The author wants you to open the book at its first page, to follow the series of questions he proposes, and to see how he reaches certain final conclusions. Certainly, scholars can re-read such a book by jumping from one page to another, trying to isolate a possible link between a statement in the first chapter and one in the last. They can also decide to isolate, let us say, every occurrence of the word "idea" in a given work, thus skipping hundreds of pages in order to focus their attention only on passages dealing with that notion. However, these are ways of reading that the layman would consider as unnatural. Then they are books to be consulted, like handbooks and encyclopaedias. Encyclopaedias are conceived in order to be consulted and never read from the first to the last page. A person reading the Encyclopaedia

Britannica every night before sleeping, from the first to the last page, would be a comic character. Usually, one picks up a given volume of an encyclopaedia in order to know or to remember when Napoleon died, or what is the chemical formula for sulphuric acid. Scholars use encyclopaedias in a more sophisticated way. For instance, if I want to know whether it was possible or not that Napoleon met Kant, I have to pick up the volume K and the volume N of my encyclopaedia: I discover that Napoleon was born in 1769 and died in 1821, Kant was born in 1724 and died in 1804, when Napoleon was already emperor. It is therefore not impossible that the two met. In order to confirm this I would probably need to consult a biography of Kant, or of Napoleon, but in a short biography of Napoleon, who met so many persons in his life, a possible meeting with Kant can be disregarded, while in a biography of Kant a meeting with Napoleon would be recorded. In brief, I must leaf through many books on many shelves of my library; I must take notes in order to compare later all the data I have collected. All this will cost me painful physical labour. Yet, with hypertext instead I can navigate through the whole net-cyclopaedia. I can connect an event registered at the beginning with a series of similar events disseminated throughout the text; I can compare the beginning with the end; I can ask for a list of all words beginning by A; I can ask for all the cases in which the name of Napoleon is linked with the one of Kant; I can compare the dates of their births and deaths -- in short, I can do my job in a few seconds or a few minutes. Hypertexts will certainly render encyclopaedias and handbooks obsolete. Yesterday, it was possible to have a whole encyclopaedia on a CD-ROM; today, it is possible to have it on line with the advantage that this permits cross references and the non-linear retrieval of information. All the compact disks, plus the computer, will occupy one fifth of the space occupied by a printed encyclopaedia. A printed encyclopaedia cannot be easily transported as a CD-ROM can, and a printed encyclopaedia cannot be easily updated. The shelves today occupied at my home as well as in public libraries by metres and metres of encyclopaedias could be eliminated in the near future, and there will be no reason to complain at their disappearance. Let us remember that for a lot of people a multivolume encyclopaedia is an impossible dream, not, or not only, because of the cost of the volumes, but because of the cost of the wall where the volumes are shelved. Personally, having started my scholarly activity as a medievalist I would like to have at home the 221 volumes of Migne's Patrologia Latina. This is very expensive, but I could afford it. What I cannot afford is a new apartment in which to store 221 huge books without being obliged to eliminate at least 500 other normal tomes. Yet, can a hypertextual disk or the WWW replace books to be read? Once again we have to decide whether the question concerns books as physical or as virtual objects. Once again let us consider the physical problem first. Good news: books will remain indispensable, not only for literature but for any circumstances in which one needs to read carefully, not only in order to receive information but also to speculate and to reflect about it. To read a computer screen is not the same as to read a book. Think about the process of learning a new computer programme. Usually, the programme is able to display on the screen all the instructions you need. But usually users who want to learn the programme either print the instructions and read them as if they were in book form, or they buy a printed manual. It is possible to conceive of a visual programme that explains very well how to print and bind a book, but in order to get instructions on how to write, or how to use, a computer programme, we need a printed handbook. After having spent 12 hours at a computer console, my eyes are like two tennis balls, and I feel the need of sitting down comfortably in an armchair and reading a newspaper, or maybe a good poem. Therefore, I think that computers are diffusing a new form of literacy, but they are incapable of satisfying all the intellectual needs they are stimulating. Please remember that both the Hebrew and the early Arab civilisations were based upon a book and this is not independent of the fact that they were both nomadic civilisations. The

Ancient Egyptians could carve their records on stone obelisks: Moses and Muhammad could not. If you want to cross the Red Sea, or to go from the Arabian peninsula to Spain, a scroll is a more practical instrument for recording and transporting the Bible or the Koran than is an obelisk. This is why these two civilisations based upon a book privileged writing over images. But books also have another advantage in respect to computers. Even if printed on modern acid paper, which lasts only 70 years or so, they are more durable than magnetic supports. Moreover, they do not suffer from power shortages and black-outs, and they are more resistant to shocks. Up to now, books still represent the most economical, flexible, wash-and-wear way to transport information at a very low cost. Computer communication travels ahead of you; books travel with you and at your speed. If you are shipwrecked on a desert island, where you don't have the option of plugging in a computer, a book is still a valuable instrument. Even if your computer has solar batteries, you cannot easily read it while lying in a hammock. Books are still the best companions for a shipwreck, or for the day after the night before. Books belong to those kinds of instruments that, once invented, have not been further improved because they are already alright, such as the hammer, the knife, spoon or scissors. TWO NEW INVENTIONS, however, are on the verge of being industrially exploited. One is printing on demand: after scanning the catalogues of many libraries or publishing houses a reader can select the book he needs, and the operator will push a button, and the machine will print and bind a single copy using the font the reader likes. This will certainly change the whole publishing market. It will probably eliminate bookstores, but it will not eliminate books, and it will not eliminate libraries, the only places where books can be found in order to scan and reprint them. Simply put: every book will be tailored according to the desires of the buyer, as happened with old manuscripts. The second invention is the e-book where by inserting a micro- cassette in the book's spine or by connecting it to the internet one can have a book printed out in front of us. Even in this case, however, we shall still have a book, though as different from our current ones as ours are different from old manuscripts on parchment, and as the first Shakespeare folio of 1623 is different from the last Penguin edition. Yet, up to now e-books have not proved to be commercially successful as their inventors hoped. I have been told that some hackers, grown up on computers and unused to browsing books, have finally read great literary masterpieces on e-books, but I think that the phenomenon remains very limited. In general, people seem to prefer the traditional way of reading a poem or a novel on printed paper. E-books will probably prove to be useful for consulting information, as happens with dictionaries or special documents. They will probably help students obliged to bring with them ten or more books when they go to school, but they will not substitute for other kinds of books that we love to read in bed before sleep, for example. Indeed, there are a lot of new technological devices that have not made previous ones obsolete. Cars run faster than bicycles, but they have not rendered bicycles obsolete, and no new technological improvements can make a bicycle better than it was before. The idea that a new technology abolishes a previous one is frequently too simplistic. Though after the invention of photography painters did not feel obliged to serve any longer as craftsmen reproducing reality, this did not mean that Daguerre's invention only encouraged abstract painting. There is a whole tradition in modern painting that could not have existed without photographic models: think, for instance, of hyper-realism. Here, reality is seen by the painter's eye through the photographic eye. This means that in the history of culture it has never been the case that something has simply killed something else. Rather, a new invention has always profoundly changed an older one. To conclude on this theme of the inconsistency of the idea of the physical disappearance of books, let us say that sometimes this fear does not only concern books but also printed material in general. Alas, if by chance one hoped that computers, and especially word processors, would contribute to saving trees, then that was wishful thinking. Instead, computers encourage the production of printed material. The computer creates

new modes of production and diffusion of printed documents. In order to re- read a text, and to correct it properly, if it is not simply a short letter, one needs to print it, then to re-read it, then to correct it at the computer and to reprint it again. I do not think that one would be able to write a text of hundreds of pages and to correct it properly without reprinting it many times. Today there are new hypertextual poetics according to which even a book-to-read, even a poem, can be transformed to hypertext. At this point we are shifting to question two, since the problem is no longer, or not only, a physical one, but rather one that concerns the very nature of creative activity, of the reading process, and in order to unravel this skein of questions we have first of all to decide what we mean by a hypertextual link. Notice that if the question concerned the possibility of infinite, or indefinite, interpretations on the part of the reader, it would have very little to do with the problem under discussion. Rather, that would have to do with the poetics of a Joyce, for example, who thought of his book Finnegans Wake as a text that could be read by an ideal reader affected by an ideal insomnia. This question concerns the limits of interpretation, of deconstructive reading and of over-interpretation, to which I have devoted other writings. No: what are presently under consideration are cases in which the infinity, or at least the indefinite abundance of interpretations, are due not only to the initiative of the reader, but also to the physical mobility of the text itself, which is produced just in order to be re-written. In order to understand how texts of this genre can work we should decide whether the textual universe we are discussing is limited and finite, limited but virtually infinite, infinite but limited, or unlimited and infinite. First of all, we should make a distinction between systems and texts. A system, for instance a linguistic system, is the whole of the possibilities displayed by a given natural language. A finite set of grammatical rules allows the speaker to produce an infinite number of sentences, and every linguistic item can be interpreted in terms of other linguistic or other semiotic items -- a word by a definition, an event by an example, an animal or a flower by an image, and so on and so forth. Take an encyclopaedic dictionary, for example. This might define a dog as a mammal, and then you have to go to the entry mammal, and if there mammals are defined as animals you must look for the entry animal, and so on. At the same time, the properties of dogs can be exemplified by images of dogs of different kinds; if it is said that a certain kind of dog lives in Lapland you must then go to the entry on Lapland to know where it is, and so on. The system is finite, an encyclopaedia being physically limited, but virtually unlimited in the sense you can circumnavigate it in a spiral-like movement, ad infinitum. In this sense, certainly all conceivable books are comprised by and within a good dictionary and a good grammar. If you are able to use an English dictionary well you could write Hamlet, and it is by mere chance that somebody did it before you. Give the same textual system to Shakespeare and to a schoolboy, and they have the same odds of producing Romeo and Juliet. Grammars, dictionaries and encyclopaedias are systems: by using them you can produce all the texts you like. But a text itself is not a linguistic or an encyclopaedic system. A given text reduces the infinite or indefinite possibilities of a system to make up a closed universe. If I utter the sentence, "This morning I had for breakfast...", for example, the dictionary allows me to list many possible items, provided they are all organic. But if I definitely produce my text and utter, "This morning I had for breakfast bread and butter", then I have excluded cheese, caviar, pastrami and apples. A text castrates the infinite possibilities of a system. The Arabian Nights can be interpreted in many, many ways, but the story takes place in the Middle East and not in Italy, and it tells, let us say, of the deeds of Ali Baba or of Scheherazade and does not concern a captain determined to capture a white whale or a Tuscan poet visiting Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.

Take a fairy tale, like Little Red Riding Hood. The text starts from a given set of characters and situations -a little girl, a mother, a grandmother, a wolf, a wood -- and through a series of finite steps arrives at a solution. Certainly, you can read the fairy tale as an allegory and attribute different moral meanings to the events and to the actions of the characters, but you cannot transform Little Red Riding Hood into Cinderella. Finnegans Wake is certainly open to many interpretations, but it is certain that it will never provide you with a demonstration of Fermat's last theorem, or with the complete bibliography of Woody Allen. This seems trivial, but the radical mistake of many deconstructionists was to believe that you can do anything you want with a text. This is blatantly false. Now suppose that a finite and limited text is organised hypertextually by many links connecting given words with other words. In a dictionary or an encyclopaedia the word wolf is potentially connected to every other word that makes up part of its possible definition or description (wolf is connected to animal, to mammal to ferocious, to legs, to fur, to eyes, to woods, to the names of the countries in which wolves exist, etc.). In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf can be connected only with the textual sections in which it shows up or in which it is explicitly evoked. The series of possible links is finite and limited. How can hypertextual strategies be used to "open" up a finite and limited text? The first possibility is to make the text physically unlimited, in the sense that a story can be enriched by the successive contributions of different authors and in a double sense, let us say either two-dimensionally or three-dimensionally. By this I mean that given, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood, the first author proposes a starting situation (the girl enters the wood) and different contributors can then develop the story one after the other, for example, by having the girl meet not the wolf but Ali Baba, by having both enter an enchanted castle, having a confrontation with a magic crocodile, and so on, so that the story can continue for years. But the text can also be infinite in the sense that at every narrative disjunction, for instance, when the girl enters the wood, many authors can make many different choices. For one author, the girl may meet Pinocchio, for another she may be transformed into a swan, or enter the Pyramids and discover the treasury of the son of Tutankhamen. This is today possible, and you can find on the Net some interesting examples of such literary games. AT THIS POINT one can raise a question about the survival of the very notion of authorship and of the work of art, as an organic whole. And I want simply to inform my audience that this has already happened in the past without disturbing either authorship or organic wholes. The first example is that of the Italian Commedia dell'arte, in which upon a canovaccio, that is, a summary of the basic story, every performance, depending on the mood and fantasy of the actors, was different from every other so that we cannot identify any single work by a single author called Arlecchino servo di due padroni and can only record an uninterrupted series of performances, most of them definitely lost and all certainly different one from another. Another example would be a jazz jam session. We may believe that there was once a privileged performance of Basin Street Blues while only a later recorded session has survived, but we know that this is untrue. There were as many Basin Street Blues as there were performances of it, and there will be in future a lot of them that we do not know as yet, as soon as two or more performers meet again and try out their personal and inventive version of the original theme. What I want to say is that we are already accustomed to the idea of the absence of authorship in popular collective art in which every participant adds something, with experiences of jazz-like unending stories. Such ways of implementing free creativity are welcome and make up part of the cultural tissue of society. Yet, there is a difference between implementing the activity of producing infinite and unlimited texts and the existence of already produced texts, which can perhaps be interpreted in infinite ways but are physically

limited. In our same contemporary culture we accept and evaluate, according to different standards, both a new performance of Beethoven's Fifth and a new Jam Session on the Basin Street theme. In this sense, I do not see how the fascinating game of producing collective, infinite stories through the Net can deprive us of authorial literature and art in general. Rather, we are marching towards a more liberated society in which free creativity will coexist with the interpretation of already written texts. I like this. But we cannot say that we have substituted an old thing with a new one. We have both. TV zapping is another kind of activity that has nothing to do with watching a movie in the traditional sense. A hypertextual device, it allows us to invent new texts that have nothing to do with our ability to interpret pre-existing texts. I have tried desperately to find an instance of unlimited and finite textual situations, but I have been unable to do so. In fact, if you have an infinite number of elements to play with why limit yourself to the production of a finite universe? It's a theological matter, a sort of cosmic sport, in which one, or The One, could implement every possible performance but prescribes itself a rule, that is, limits, and generates a very small and simple universe. Let me, however, consider another possibility that at first glance promises an infinite number of possibilities with a finite number of elements, like a semiotic system, but in reality only offers an illusion of freedom and creativity. A hypertext can give the illusion of opening up even a closed text: a detective story can be structured in such a way that its readers can select their own solution, deciding at the end if the guilty one should be the butler, the bishop, the detective, the narrator, the author or the reader. They can thus build up their own personal story. Such an idea is not a new one. Before the invention of computers, poets and narrators dreamt of a totally open text that readers could infinitely re-compose in different ways. Such was the idea of Le Livre, as extolled by Mallarm. Raymond Queneau also invented a combinatorial algorithm by virtue of which it was possible to compose, from a finite set of lines, millions of poems. In the early sixties, Max Saporta wrote and published a novel whose pages could be displaced to compose different stories, and Nanni Balestrini gave a computer a disconnected list of verses that the machine combined in different ways to compose different poems. Many contemporary musicians have produced musical scores by manipulating which one can compose different musical performances. All these physically moveable texts give an impression of absolute freedom on the part of the reader, but this is only an impression, an illusion of freedom. The machinery that allows one to produce an infinite text with a finite number of elements has existed for millennia, and this is the alphabet. Using an alphabet with a limited number of letters one can produce billions of texts, and this is exactly what has been done from Homer to the present days. In contrast, a stimulus-text that provides us not with letters, or words, but with pre-established sequences of words, or of pages, does not set us free to invent anything we want. We are only free to move pre-established textual chunks in a reasonably high number of ways. A Calder mobile is fascinating not because it produces an infinite number of possible movements but because we admire in it the iron-like rule imposed by the artist because the mobile moves only in the ways Calder wanted it to move. At the last borderline of free textuality there can be a text that starts as a closed one, let us say, Little Red Riding Hood or The Arabian Nights, and that I, the reader, can modify according to my inclinations, thus elaborating a second text, which is no longer the same as the original one, whose author is myself, even though the affirmation of my authorship is a weapon against the concept of definite authorship. The Net is open to such experiments, and most of them can be beautiful and rewarding. Nothing forbids one writing a story where Little Red Riding Hood devours the wolf. Nothing forbids us from putting together different stories in a sort of narrative patchwork. But this has nothing to do with the real function and with the profound charms of books. A BOOK OFFERS US A TEXT which, while being open to multiple interpretations, tells us something that cannot be modified. Suppose you are reading Tolstoy's War and Peace: you desperately wish that Natasha

will not accept the courtship of that miserable scoundrel Anatolij; you desperately wish that the marvellous person who is Prince Andrej will not die, and that he and Natasha will live together forever. If you had War and Peace on a hypertextual and interactive CD-ROM, you could rewrite your own story according to your desires; you could invent innumerable "War and Peaces", where Pierre Besuchov succeeds in killing Napoleon, or, according to your penchants, Napoleon definitely defeats General Kutusov. What freedom, what excitement! Every Bouvard or Pcuchet could become a Flaubert! Alas, with an already written book, whose fate is determined by repressive, authorial decision, we cannot do this. We are obliged to accept fate and to realise that we are unable to change destiny. A hypertextual and interactive novel allows us to practice freedom and creativity, and I hope that such inventive activity will be implemented in the schools of the future. But the already and definitely written novel War and Peace does not confront us with the unlimited possibilities of our imagination, but with the severe laws governing life and death. Similarly, in Les Misrables Victor Hugo provides us with a beautiful description of the battle of Waterloo. Hugo's Waterloo is the opposite of Stendhal's. Stendhal, in La Charteuse de Parme, sees the battle through the eyes of his hero, who looks from inside the event and does not understand its complexity. On the contrary, Hugo describes the battle from the point of view of God, and follows it in every detail, dominating with his narrative perspective the whole scene. Hugo not only knows what happened but also what could have happened and did not in fact happen. He knows that if Napoleon had known that beyond the top of mount Saint Jean there was a cliff the cuirassiers of General Milhaud would not have collapsed at the feet of the English army, but his information in the event was vague or missing. Hugo knows that if the shepherd who had guided General von Bulow had suggested a different itinerary, then the Prussian army would have not arrived on time to cause the French defeat. Indeed, in a role-play game one could rewrite Waterloo such that Grouchy arrived with his men to rescue Napoleon. But the tragic beauty of Hugo's Waterloo is that the readers feel that things happen independently of their wishes. The charm of tragic literature is that we feel that its heroes could have escaped their fate but they do not succeed because of their weakness, their pride, or their blindness. Besides, Hugo tells us, "Such a vertigo, such an error, such a ruin, such a fall that astonished the whole of history, is it something without a cause? No... the disappearance of that great man was necessary for the coming of the new century. Someone, to whom none can object, took care of the event... God passed over there, Dieu a pass." That is what every great book tells us, that God passed there, and He passed for the believer as well as for the sceptic. There are books that we cannot re-write because their function is to teach us about necessity, and only if they are respected such as they are can they provide us with such wisdom. Their repressive lesson is indispensable for reaching a higher state of intellectual and moral freedom. I hope and I wish that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina will continue to store this kind of books, in order to provide new readers with the irreplaceable experience of reading them. Long life to this temple of vegetal memory.