Panel Discussion: Mystery Surrounding Umberto Eco's Crime Novel

The Bremen State and University Library (SuUB) and "Freundeskreis" (Circle of Friends) are hosting a panel discussion on the topic of literary forgeries at 5 p.m. on December 7, 2023, at the SuUB main library. The mystery surrounding Umberto Eco's supposed crime novel "Carmen Nova" will be examined

The literary world primarily associates Umberto Eco with his world-famous novel "The Name of the Rose." However, at the beginning of this year, a discovery by Dr. Niels Penke, a literary scholar at the University of Siegen, shed new light on the writer's literary legacy. In a social media post, Penke pointed out that the crime novel Carmen Nova, which was published in 1983, was most likely not written by Eco. This surprising discovery not only raises questions about the authorship, but also reveals other inconsistencies surrounding the work: the epilogue by Roland Barthes was not written by him, the translator named in the imprint and the alleged publisher of the novel do not appear to exist.

What makes this revelation particularly special is not only the possible literary forgery itself, but also the fact that only two copies of the work have survived in libraries worldwide: in the SuUB in Bremen and in the City Library of Schaffhausen in Switzerland. For security reasons, the SuUB Bremen has placed the title under lock and key and at the same time digitized the small book to make it accessible to the public:

Under the title "Das Geheimnis um eine Kriminalnovelle von Umberto Eco – von literarischen Fälschungen, Raubdrucken und Büchern, die es nicht es gibt" (The Mystery of a Crime Novel by Umberto Eco - Literary Forgeries, Pirated Prints, and Books that Do Not Even Exist), the Circle of Friends, in collaboration with the SuUB, cordially invites you to a panel discussion with Dr. Niels Penke. The event will take place from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on December 7, 2023, in the Manuscript Reading Room on level 4 of the SuUB.

The panel discussion, moderated by Maria Elisabeth Müller (Director of the SuUB), will also feature

  • Prof. Dr. Axel Dunker (German Studies, University of Bremen), whose research interests include literary forgeries.
  • Dr. Jürgen Babendreier (retired librarian, SuUB), who acquired the pirated print for the SuUBin 1983.
  • Guenter G. Rodewald (literary agent, blogger, and co-owner of a left-wing collective bookshop in Bremen from 1978 to 1985), who talks about his experience as a pirate printer.
  • Hatice Ince (Radio Bremen), a social media expert who noticed Penke's discovery via Twitter (now X) and commented on the detective story with background information.


Further Information: (in German only)



Anke Winsmann

Press and Public Relations Officer

State and University Library Bremen

Phone: +49 421 218-59572

Email: oeffentlichkeitsarbeitprotect me ?!suub.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de



A picture of the little book Carmen Nova. It's a slim paperback with a yellow cover and a picture of a woman on the cover in black and white.
There are only two copies of the crime novel Carmen Nova in libraries worldwide, including the SuUB in Bremen.