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Umberto Eco is an Italian semiotician, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist. He is the author of The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, and The Prague Cemetery, all bestsellers in many languages, as well as a number of influential scholarly works.
Well beyond the completion of the thesis, Eco's manual makes for pleasant reading and is deserving of a place on the desks of scholars and professional writers. Even sections such as that recommending the combinatory system of handwritten index cards, while outdated in the digital age, can propose a helpful exercise in critical thinking, and add a certain vintage appeal to the book. * Times Literary Supplement * The book's enduring appeal -- the reason it might interest someone whose life no longer demands the writing of anything longer than an e-mail -- has little to do with the rigors of undergraduate honors requirements. Instead, it's about what, in Eco's rhapsodic and often funny book, the thesis represents: a magical process of self-realization, a kind of careful, curious engagement with the world that need not end in one's early twenties. 'Your thesis,' Eco foretells, 'is like your first love: it will be difficult to forget.' By mastering the demands and protocols of the fusty old thesis, Eco passionately demonstrates, we become equipped for a world outside ourselves -- a world of ideas, philosophies, and debates. -- Hua Hsu * The New Yorker * Eco is a first-rate storyteller and unpretentious instructor who thrives on describing the twists and turns of research projects as well as how to avoid accusations of plagiarism. -- Jan Gardner * Boston Globe * How to Write a Thesis remains valuable after all this time largely thanks to the spirit of Eco's advice. It is witty but sober, genial but demanding -- and remarkably uncynical about the rewards of the thesis, both for the person writing it and for the enterprise of scholarship itself.... Some of Eco's advice is, if anything, even more valuable now, given the ubiquity and seeming omniscience of our digital tools.... Eco's humor never detracts from his serious intent. And anyway, even the sardonic pointers on cheating are instructive in their way. -- Scott McLemee * Inside Higher Education * How to Write a Thesis is full of friendly, no-bullshit, entry-level advice on what to do and how to do it, illustrated with lucid examples and -- significantly -- explanations of why, by one of the great researchers and writers in the post-war humanities ... Best of all, the absolutely superb chapter on how to write is worth triple the price of admission on its own. -- Robert Eaglestone * Times Higher Education * Although first published in Italian in 1977, before Eco ( The Name of the Rose) became an internationally renowned novelist, this guide to writing a thesis -- originally aimed at Italian humanities undergraduates -- brims with practical advice useful for writing research papers.... His advocacy of index card files to organize data seems quaintly nostalgic in the age of laptops and online databases, but it only underscores the importance of applying these more sophisticated tools to achieve the thoroughness of the results that he advocates. * Publishers Weekly *