Tullio Pericoli was born in Colli del Tronto, near Ascoli Piceno, in 1936. He moved to Milan in 1961 and soon became an established artist, publishing and exhibiting his work around the world. He is a regular contributor to the Review. (December 2019)

NYR DAILY

Portraits: Umberto Eco, Saul Steinberg, and Aldo Buzzi

Tullio Pericoli: Umberto Eco, 1990

Umberto Eco was one of the people I spent the most time with but knew the least. He deserves a lifetime record for never talking about himself, not even in his novels. Not until the very end. Essentially, I think he deprived himself of a pleasure. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves, and sometimes even whine a little? By not confiding in others, others were not inclined to confide in him. I would never have talked to him about something that saddened me or about a love story that was causing me heartache. He would’ve tried to cheer me up, of course, but probably by telling me a joke. It was easier to understand his mind than his soul. Eco was interested in the mind; he lived for his mind. For him, souls were stupid.