Numero Zero Background

Numero Zero Background

Numero Zero is Umberto Eco’s seventh novel and final novel published before his death in 2016. Unlike Eco’s most famous novels The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, Numero Zero is short and relatively fast-paced with its less than 200 pages stripped of long and intricate digressions and the dense historical background and language games which characterizes the author’s previous fiction.

Like Eco's more familiar novels, however, Numero Zero does contain a narrative that is driven by conspiracy theories and historical fact. Covering world events from just after World War II to the explosion of extreme domestic terrorism which rocked Italian society in the early 1970s, the book is pitches at a darkly ironic satirical tone with the focus of its barbs primarily directed toward the influence of the tabloid press which increased significantly over that same period.

Perhaps due to the curtailed length of this novel in compared to the far more expansive length of his previous works, one of the most prevalent criticisms of Numero Zero is it seems less complete than the typical Eco work. One reviewer put this critique into the context of writing a film with the suggestion that Eco’s first six novel are like watching a film whereas his seventh is more akin to reading the screenplay treatment for those films.

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