Friday was a day of loss in the world of literature with the deaths of Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Lee was the famously reclusive author of one of the world’s most beloved novels, To Kill A Mockingbird, which skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller list and became an award-winning motion picture almost immediately. The celebrity that this brought to the author was most unwelcome, and likely contributed to her failure to produce anything else of consequence until last year’s release of Go Set A Watchman, likely an early draft of Mockingbird.
Eco, in contrast, produced numerous bestselling novels that were as quirky as they were popular, laced with expository writing about his academic interest in semiotics. Eco was a professor who bridged popular and academic cultures, and was anything but reclusive.
Two very different personalities, but both master storytellers, whose talent touched generations and will continue to do so. Such is the magic of literature, and we are thankful for the art that Harper Lee and Umberto Eco shared with us.