It was published by Bompiani, in 1980. Umberto Eco was already famous in Italy, not as a novelist but as a linguist, an ancient book collector, and a clever satirist. I believe that the publisher did not expect much from this first novel when he gave them the draft. Perhaps even Eco did not expect much, perhaps he just wanted to write a treatise on “how to write a successful light novel?”. Then he thought why not write one? It was a good idea: It sold millions of copies all over the world, but afterward Eco was unable to replicate the same formula. Later, he came up with some very long, convoluted, and boring novels. Perhaps it was because he was trying to elevate the general level of the story, thus making it more for intellectuals than for the Voghera’s Housewife, to use Alberto Arbasino great characterization.
To commemorate the 40 years anniversary a group of bibliophiles, with Simone Berni at their head, has come up with the eccentric idea to reprint this book, putting all the words in alphabetical order, chapter by chapter.
Who will read such a book? No one, no one with a sane mind will read the 172.425 composing the book. But the publishers are planning to print only 40 copies for bibliophiles, who, as we all know, are insane people, I am one of them.
This form of a book is called “aventeformadilibro” that is “havingformofabook”.
The bernesque idea of Berni is to create a rarity and make fun of commemorations, just like the futurists were doing before the last war. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti would approve it, Eco? Ehm…I am not sure.