The Irish Review published by Cork University Press
NOOTEBOOM: … What kind of feeling do you have when you enter one of the great libraries of the world?
ECO: If you like, the same … religious fervor, but in the sense in which I also present my semiotic theories: that meaning is not exclusively an intangible or spiritual event. One of the great problems of my subject is that meaning exists in my head, your head, or nowhere, and how do you study that? One way is to try to get behind the meaning of a particular word by studying all the meanings and interpretations that have been given to that word throughout the history of civilization – and in that sense you can say that the meaning, the total accumulation of assembled meanings, is stored in libraries. Libraries are therefore our collective memory, the memory of the world. Whether or not this should be called God I leave to everyone’s own intelligence, but what is being preserved in a library is certainly more than a collection of physical objects.
‘In Eco’s Labyrinth: Umberto Eco interviewed by Cees Nooteboom’, The Irish Review, 10 (1991), 51-60 [51-2]
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