Can books teach their authors?

2017_january_eco“A good book is more intelligent than its author. It can say things that the writer is not aware of.”

-Umberto Eco

Yet more wisdom from the recently deceased Italian author Umberto Eco (1932-2016).

I’d never thought of this before, but once I read it I knew it to be true.

How many of us who write feel ourselves drawn away from the story we thought we were writing to tell a very different story, with ideas and themes that emerge as we are writing them?

The book – and the creative process undertaken to create the book – is what allows us to express those issues or ideas that seem to emerge of their own free will. All writers have stories about the characters who ‘talk to them’ and start nudging their novel in a different direction. Or the sub-plots and themes that jump up out of no where, but become an integral part of the story.

And then, of course, there is the reaction a novel has on its reader and the unique experiences, perspectives and interpretations that a reader may bring to the work. Those readers are also interpreting themes the author may not be aware of, and a good book allows this to happen.

What do you think, readers and writers? Can a good book be more intelligent than its author?


  1. ledrakenoir on January 20, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Hope they can… 😀

  2. kimberlysullivan on January 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Moi aussi! : )

  3. Giovannoni Claudine on February 13, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Umberto Eco was a great magister… absolutely right Kimberly, somehow when you write, there is a kind of “presence” dictating and giving you ideas of the plots. Most of the time, I get it from the dreams, in which, actually, I’m not bounded at the past-present-future chain… but this is a long story! See you around :-)claudine

    • kimberlysullivan on February 13, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Interesting that you receive writing inspiration from dreams, Claudine. Of course, it goes along with the idea of creating characters, story line and plots in your subconscious. Happy writing (and dreaming)!

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