“For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying 'lepers' we would understand 'outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.' But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign.”
- Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco (1932 - ) is an Italian semiotician (the study of signs and sign systems, akin to linguistics), essayist, philosopher, literary critic and novelist, best known for his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose. This was subsequently filmed with Sean Connery in the role of the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville, a 14th century detective and forensic analyst. The film retains the plot but drops many of the philosophical and historical themes but is still well worth watching.