2014 Umberto Eco
The author and media scholar Umberto Eco, born in Alessandria in 1932 and deceased in Milan in 2016, was probably the best-known contemporary semiotician. Not only did he express himself groundbreaking in the theory of signs, he also dealt with the role and significance of the book in history, present and future, for example in his declaration of love for the bibliophily "The Art of Book Loving" (München 2009). In 1948, he began studying philosophy and literary history at the University of Turin, which he completed in 1954 with a dissertation on the aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas. After a short time with Italian television he became an editor for nonfiction in the Milanese publishing house Bompiani. Since 1975 he was Professor of Semiotics at the University of Bologna and his (German 1973) book "Introduction to Semiotics", published in 1968, is still internationally accepted as a standard work.
He has become world famous for his novels, most notably "The Name of the Rose" (Milan 1980) and "Foucault's Pendulum" (Milan 1988), which are an outstanding testimony to the written tradition, to the cultural history of libraries and to the wisdom implied in the books. Umberto Eco was voted the second most important intellectual in the world in 2005. In 2014, the Gutenberg Prize of the City of Mainz and the International Gutenberg Society was awarded to Eco for his brilliant cultural-theoretical reflections and his novels, which have introduced millions of international readers to book culture and book history.