First a semiotician at the University of Bologna, and a leading figure in contemporary Italian culture, Eco brought semiotics to fiction in his first novel, The Name of the Rose (1980). This unexpected international best-seller employs the techniques of a detective novel along with sophisticated postmodern narrative and verbal conundrums, to recount a series of murders in a medieval monastery. Eco's fascination with the Middle Ages began when he was a student at the University of Torino, where he wrote his doctoral thesis (1954) on St. Thomas Aquinas. The Name of the Rose (1980) won the Premio Strega and the Premio Anghiar awards in 1981, as well as numerous international awards.
Yuri Mikhailovich Lotman is the founder of the Moscow-Tartu School and the initiator of the discipline of cultural semiotics.