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“How to Write a Thesis” is sparked by the wish to give any student with the desire and a respect for the process the tools for producing a rigorous and meaningful piece of writing.
It’s also a great parting reminder to parents that your senior learned and achieved something.
But “How to Write a Thesis” is ultimately about much more than the leisurely pursuits of college students.
Up until 1999, a thesis of original research was required of every student pursuing the Italian equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.
Collecting his thoughts on the thesis process would save him the trouble of reciting the same advice to students each year.
Since its publication, “How to Write a Thesis” has gone through twenty-three editions in Italy and has been translated into at least seventeen languages.
Its first English edition is only now available, in a translation by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina.
We in the English-speaking world have survived thirty-seven years without “How to Write a Thesis.” Why bother with it now?
After all, Eco wrote his thesis-writing manual before the advent of widespread word processing and the Internet.
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.