Eco, U., How to write a thesis, in the University Library at 029.6 ECO
|Sunrise at the Rifugio Giacoletti by Fulvio Spada.|
Used under a Creative Commons licence.
As a follower of Eco’s work, and embarking on the creation of a thesis myself, I thought this slim manual (now published in English for the first time) would be a valuable addition to our substantial collection of advice on how to write for academic purposes. Starting to write a thesis can feel like a mountainous task, and there is an immediate question of how a book originally written in 1977 might still have any relevance for a modern audience. In a world where many of the tools of research have been transformed, it is indeed odd to see even a picture of an index card these days. But the core of Eco’s advice on how to build a thesis as ‘an object that will serve others’ remains relevant, helpful and practical even today. I read the book straight off in one evening on the same day as I met my supervisor, and some of the messages about how to write were the same; there is much timeless sense in this work.
Eco writes with style and humour, and librarians are treated to some gentle stereotyping in this book, as he writes: “You must consider that the librarian (if not overworked or neurotic) is happy when he can demonstrate two things: the quality of his memory and erudition and the richness of his library, especially if it is small … A person who asks for help makes the librarian happy.”