Go ahead, throw your tomatoes at me I know that in general this book is loved Many count it amongst their favorites I found it very dull and very boring I had an extremely hard time staying interested in the story, which is weird for me and mystery suspense stories Never have I fought so hard to finish a book in general, I do not DNF.So, if you couldn t stand it either, let me know that I am not alone.For those that loved it and are ready to launch rotten produce at me Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally The CCLaP 100 In which I read a hundred so called classics and then write reports on whether or not I think they deserve the labelBook 7 The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco The story in a nutshell In one of the fascinating stories of how a novelist was first drawn to his profession, scholar Umberto Eco was actually an Italian history professor and Medieval expert for years before ever turning to creative writing according to legend, it was his thrilling and exacting retelling of actual Dark Age stories that inspired his friends to keep urging him to write a novel based in those times, which he finally did in the late 1970s As such, then, The Name of the Rose is a bizarre amalgam that you scarcely ever find in contemporary literature a genre actioner murder mystery with a lot of melodramatic elements at its core, but at the same time a detailed historical look at actual 1300s Europe, with a big part of the reason to read this book being so that one can be exposed to the meticulous detail of Eco s prose on the subject, from the period s clothing and architecture to its religious structures and philosophies But on top of this, turns out that Eco is a postmodernist and accomplished semiotics expert as well, turning the book not just into a potboiler mystery and historical novel but indeed an entire thesis on the nature of language itself, on the meaning behind symbols, and on why human behavior repeats itself so often no matter which age you study, and no matter what the rationale behind such behavior during any given age.Plotwise it s the story of a Franciscan monk named William of Baskerville, which is just the start of the sly references to Sherlock Holmes Eco deliberately inserts turns out that William is also British, a champion of logic and deductive reasoning, and even has a clueless teenage assistant named Adso who stands in symbolically for the equally clueless audience William is in Italy, helping a fellow monk investigate a mysterious death in the fortified abbey where the man leads turns out, in fact, that this is one of the largest and most renowned of all the Christian Dark Age monastery libraries, attracting an international team of egghead monks and a scholarly atmosphere akin to modern universities Both the novel and the investigation take place over seven days at this fortress abbey, where William and Adso spend their time gathering clues, pontificating on all kinds of subjects that intellectuals in the 1300s pontificated on, and examining in detail such historical details as the church s then ongoing debate over whether it s better to be rich or poor, as well as why the Benedictine monks and the Franciscan ones hated each other so intensely back then in the first place This being a murder mystery, of course, the actual plot is something best left for the reader to discover on their own, although I ll warn you that the actual whodunit part isn t very suspenseful as mentioned above, the real point of this being a murder mystery is for Eco to show just how similarly humans behaved back then as we do now, even as the times themselves inspire completely different motivations and excuses So in other words, a lot less I love my baby s mamma in the 1300s, a lot The devil made me do it The argument for it being a classic Fans of this novel and there are a whole lot of them it s hard to dislike this book, frankly argue that this book deserves the classic label quickly than a lot of other contemporary novels do after all, the book s only 27 years old at this point , precisely because it deals with issues from an age of classics so in other words, because it s set in Medieval times, is written in Dark Age vernacular and includes historical details worthily accurate of the respected academe Eco is, fans claim that of course The Name of the Rose will eventually be a classic, such a foregone conclusion that we might as well declare it one now Ah, but there s also a much stronger argument for this being considered a classic right now as mentioned, many of those who study the esoteric academic field of semiotics claim that the novel is a perfect example of what they do, explained in layman s terms so that non academes can finally get it As such, then, these people claim that The Name of the Rose is not just an exciting DaVinci Code style historical thriller, but also a densely layered examination of stories about stories about stories, of symbols about symbols about symbols, of the meaning behind meaning behind meaning Yeah, see what they mean when they say that semiotics is a hard thing to explain to the general public The argument against The main argument against this being a classic seems to be one brought up a lot with well written yet contemporary books contemporary in this case being any less than half a century old that the book is simply too new to be able to reasonably judge whether it should rightly be called a timeless classic, one of those fabled books you should read before you die For just one example, when The Name of the Rose first came out in 1980, it was the first time anyone had ever tried setting a rational Holmesian style mystery story within a Medieval monastery in the years since, we ve had all kinds of projects on the subject, including a popular weekly BBC Masterpiece series It s a great book, even its critics are quick to point out, even if somewhat on the dry side at points ugh, all those debates about papal decrees but who s to say if anyone s going to even remember this novel a hundred years from now, or the notoriously spotty career Eco has since had as a novelist Don t forget, Eco is mostly a scholar and historian although considered a rockstar in the academic world, his reputation as a writer of fiction is much contentious My verdict So let s make it clear right off the bat that from a pure entertainment standpoint, The Name of the Rose is one of the most delightful novels I ve read in years, years It s funny, it s smart, it s insightful, it s thrilling, it s nerdy Cheese And Rice, it s everything a lover of books could possibly ever want from a well done one But is it a classic Well, unfortunately, I think I m going to have to agree with the critics on this one that although it could very well become a classic one day, one of those Catcher in the Rye style one hit wonders that populate so many lists, I think it s simply too early to make such a call either in a positive or negative way, especially considering Eco s otherwise spotty career as a novelist That s part of the point of classics lists existing, after all, and why those who care about such lists take them so seriously because ultimately such a designation should reflect not only how good a book itself is, but how well it s stood the test of time, of how relevant it s continued to be to generation after generation, of how timeless the author s style and word choice One always has to be careful when adding newish books to such lists, especially novels less than 30 years old, because we have no idea at this point how such books are going to stand the test of time load up your classics list with such titles, and your list suddenly becomes worthless fluff, as relevant and important as a whole evening of handing out freakin Quill Awards It s for this reason that I m excluding The Name of the Rose from my own personal Canon, although still highly encourage all of you to actually read it, just from the standpoint of pure enjoyment.Is it a classic Not yet A 84% Very Good Notes A medieval Sherlock Holmes manages sectarian politics and investigates serial murders in a dense but effective read. This is one of those rare near perfect books that crosses through many genres and could be universally acclaimed There are dozens of great reviews on here already, but this book struck me as so profound that I felt I needed to briefly put down my own thoughts I could not bring myself to put this down and it was always a battle to not skip work and continue reading in the parking lot after lunch break Eco crafts a novel that could be labeled as historical fiction, mystery, theology and philosophy, metafiction, a plot boiler, literature, and many others hell, there s even a bit of love and sex thrown in and of multiple sexual orientations He essentially takes Sherlock Holmes and Watson and recasts them as monks in a 1300 s Abbey where murder and theological debates appear around every corner The two main plots, the murder mystery and the religious debates, weave together effortlessly, each feeding off each other as the tensions rise and the plot thickens.This is no simple plot driven thriller however Eco brings a tome of medieval and christian history to the table, working it as a period piece and educates the reader as well as entertains This has drawn a lot of comparisons to works such as Dan Brown s Da Vince Code, yet Eco surpasses Brown in almost every category This book truly deserve to be considered literature , as there is much to it than a history and research tossed into a plot Eco can spit prose with the best of them and he will keep your dictionary close at hand His character s speech is all believable and what fascinated me the most was how expertly he wrote the theological arguments between the Abbey occupants Through these characters, many which were real people, he presents believable, and often fiery, multifaceted discussions on a range of topics such as heretics, vows of poverty, and gospel interpretations Eco has a vast knowledge of medieval studies and it shows He is also a professor of semiotics, which play a critical role in this novel William s method of deduction hinges on his ability to read the signs in the world around him He carefully crafts syllogisms, which brought me back to my logic and reasoning courses at MSU, to produce his theories Eco puts his best foot forward and gives the reader a good introduction to his own fields of study with Rose However, he also throws in the loophole that the world may not be comprised of any inherent meaning and that it is senseless to try to apply meaning to randomness This could present quiet a dilemma for a monk who s life draws meaning from the gospels.Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this novel was that it was a book about books The whole novel spins around several texts, such as Aristotle and Revelations, but is made up of other books He even draws the readers attention to this as William explains to Adso how the contents of one book can be discerned by reading other books He strings together hefty allusions to other medieval texts and also to one of Eco s, and one of my own, personal favorite authors Jorge Luis Borges This novel is saturated with allusions to Borges works, there is even a blind librarian much like the real Borges named Jorge of Burgos I would highly recommend picking up a copy of his collected fictions, simply because it is a phenomenal read, and to read selected stories such as The Library of Babel simultaneously with The Name of the Rose as Eco drew much of his inspiration for this book from Borges story The scenes in the labyrinthine library of the abbey are gold, I wanted to get lost with William and Adso as they flipped through great works together while trying to make sense of their obfuscating surroundings Eco s use of metafiction greatly adds to this novel, as an acute reading will show Eco is often talking about the book itself than the actual plot with his two leads He also leaves in plenty of untranslated Latin while having William conclude that true scholars must first master languages, and to key in on the idea that this book was a text found and translated by the character of Eco He leaves some detective work for the reader, and I thank him for that.You really need to read this book There are scant few people who would not find something of interest within it s pages It is a deep, dense ocean of a novel and not a little plot driven pool to be waded through just for enjoyment, but with just a little effort it will provide a fountain of enjoyment That was a weird, out of place and senseless string of water metaphors, but you get the idea Easily a 5 5 The year is 1327 Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where the most interesting things happen at night. The Name of the Rose is not a book to be picked up lightly with the expectation that you, the reader, are about to embark on a traditional work of historical fiction Umberto Eco expects much from the reader of this book Almost immediately the unsuspecting reader will find himself dropped into the midst of the High Middle Ages, a society completely foreign for the majority of modern readers.In historical context, the story occurs during the time the Papacy had moved from its traditional location in Italy to Avignon John XXII is a Pope brought to the head of the Holy Roman Church by the King of France John is not the first Pope to leave the Church s Italian home.However, it is 1327, and great dissatisfaction pervades Europe that a French King should have political influence over the Church Traditionally, following the division of the Roman Empire between West and East, the secular protection of the Church had fallen to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, a title held by members of the royal families of Germany In that year, Louis IV would declare himself the King of Italy and in 1328 he would crown himself the next Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.Louis entrance into Italy was inevitable, as King Phillip of France had encouraged an alliance with the French Pope through his connection with the King of Naples Louis sympathies, or perhaps his political acumen, led him to support the Franciscan Order, committed to the life of poverty This was in direct contradiction to the Papal Bulls issued by John XXII, who saw the Franciscan Orders as a disruptive force among the common people Off shoots of the Fransiscan s, particularly the Psuedo Apostles, led by Fra Dolcino, had led to absolute chaos in Italy Dolcino s common followers attacked the wealthy to bring about a universal state of poverty There should be no rich There should be no poor The ultimate goal of Dolcino was to abolish the need of the Church and place it under the authority of the people Under this theory, there was no need for Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, or ecclesiastical offices of any type.William of Baskerville s purpose in going to the Abbey of Melko is as an emissary of the Imperial Theologians to negotiate a meeting between legations appointed by the Pope and Louis to resolve the conflict between the Papacy, the Minorite or Franciscan orders, and Louis What is at stake is a reinterpretation between Church and State That the underlying issue concerns who will wield true power in Europe is obvious.However, William s true mission is delayed For, upon his arrival, he discovers that a young Illuminator in the Abbey s Scriptorium has met an untimely death Was it murder or suicide The death of a second monk, clearly indicates that someone in the closed society of the Abbey of Melk is a murderer.Accompanied by his scribe, Adso, William sets out to investigate the deaths of the two monks The mystery only deepens as deaths occur The circumstances seem to follow the sounding of the trumpets as revealed in the Revelation of John.Eco continues to complicate the facts of William s case by revealing that the Abbey contains one of the finest libraries known in the contemporary world Interestingly, no one but the Librarian, his assistant, or someone with the permission of the Abbot himself can gain entry to the library, which is protected by a labyrinth seemingly incapable of being navigated.William of Baskerville is the equivalent of a Medieval Sherlock Holmes Adso, whose French name happens to be Adson, conveniently rhyming with Watson William is a man committed to logic He is a student of Roger Bacon He is a contemporary of William of Occam It should come as no surprise that he is capable of the art of deduction through that logic, nor that he should be in possession of a pair of optical lenses, serving him as eyeglasses enabling him to read the tiny writing of a murdered monk, barely perceptible to the naked eye The monk s almost invisible writing lead William and Adso to discover the secrets of the labyrinth and to search for a book that seems to hold the motive for the accumulating bodies, day by day.The Abbot pointedly tells William that the matter of these deaths must be resolved prior to the arrival of the two legations The Papal legation is headed by Bernard of Gui, an infamous inquisitor who has burned many a heretic in his long history as a defender of the faith Surely Bernard will take over the question of the deaths at the Abbey and use them to strengthen the Pope s position that the Franciscan s philosophy of the poverty of Christ be eliminated by the Pope.William and Adso s exploration of the labyrinth to discover a missing book, the seeming motive for the murders, intensify And they succeed in discovering their way through the labyrinth However, they are unsuccessful in unraveling an endless thread of textual clues leading from one manuscript to the next prior to the arrival of the two opposed legations.As feared, the discovery of yet another body, the herbalist Severinus, leads Bernard Gui to take over the inquisition to root out the evil present in the abbey Bernard is ruthless Torture is an accepted practice to disclose the works of the devil As expected, Bernard announces he intends to inform the Pope that the Franciscan orders of Poverty should be prohibited.Nevertheless, William and Adso will solve the mystery of the labyrinth, the secret manuscript it contains, and the identity of the murderer In keeping with my practice not to reveal any spoilers of plot, I will not address the identity of the murderer, nor the motive for the crimes.But, I will say this The Name of the Rose is a labyrinth complete within itself While a labyrinth may contain a solution, and one may escape its twists and turns, it is not always possible to end up with an answer that leaves no ambiguity There is than one labyrinth present in Eco s wonderful work One question relates to the interpretation of knowledge itself Is knowledge finite Are there universal truths Or is it a matter of what appears to be the truth only subject to interpretation by individuals To the librarians of the Abbey Melko, knowledge was something to be protected from disclosure As I mentioned to one friend, the library took on the connotation of Eden s Tree of Life, from which man and woman were forbidden to eat It was knowledge gained from eating the forbidden fruit that led to the loss of innocence Considering that the library contained many works considered by the librarians to be the work of infidels, it would be their purpose to hide those works from the innocent Yet, the mere possession of that knowledge also led to its misinterpretation and the accusation of heresy.Clearly, during the heated debate between the Papal and Imperial Legations, knowledge did not exist independent of the thinker s perception One postulation of a particular theological theorem was subject to debate on the most minute detail out of political motivation.But, Adso may well have had the most significant statement to make regarding books and their contents It will be one of my favorite passages Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books it is as if they spoke among themselves In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the disturbing to me It was then the place of long, centuries old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors Even William was subject to hearing words so familiar, he knew he had read them before, but could not remember the name of the book It seemed to me, as I read this page, that I had read some of these words before, and some phrases that are almost the same, which I have seen elsewhere, return to my mind Books find themselves the creator of other books,when they become so deeply planted in our subconscious A famous contemporary example is found in Nabokov s Lolita Nabokov s character first appeared in a short story Lolita, written in 1916 by Heinz von Eschwege The story lines are quite similar Nabokov has been said to have created artistic improprieties, or been subject to a phenomenon known as cryptomnesia, a hidden memory of a story he had once read Michael Marr, author of The Two Lolitas, wrote, Literature has always been a huge crucible in which familiar themes are continually recast Perhaps James Baldwin said it best It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive As The Name of the Rose contains a multitude of Latin phrases, I think it fitting to add one , not included in the book itself That is sub rosa The concept first appears in Egyptian culture The rose was the symbol of the Egyptian God Horus, most often represented by a child holding his finger to his mouth as if he were saying, Shhhh It became symbolic of silence It reappears in Greek and Roman mythology Venus Aphrodite gave a rose to Cupid which served as a symbol of silence regarding her many indiscretions in love By the Middle Ages, the rose had a definite meaning In those times, when a party of individuals met in a council hall, a rose was hung over the table Whatever was discussed under the rose was secret and all parties meeting under the rose agreed that the subject of their discussions was confidential Much lies under the surface of this novel It was deemed by the characters to be secret And so, I believe Eco would have us treat this novel in modo sub rosa, leaving each reader to discover its secrets in their own manner The further one delves, the secrets remain to be discovered. If I had to spend a year on a desert island and was only allowed to take one book, this would be it At the time of its publication, one reviewer described The Name of the Rose as a book about everything At first glance, it may seem to be a book largely about obscure Fourteenth Century religious controversies, heresies and sects, with a murder mystery mixed in But this is a book that rewards repeat readings I ve just finished it for the seventh time , and the heart of the novel is in its exposition of semiotics the world as a blizzard of signs and life and thought as their constant interpretation Just as Brother William of Baskerville guides the na ve Adso through the world of the monastery and the wider world of knowledge and reason, so Eco guides the reader through a story where few things are what they seem and everything can be read several ways Even the obscure Fourteenth Century sects , which many readers find bewildering, dull or both, represent far than they seem at first glance The long controversy over the poverty of Christ and its application in the medieval Church forms the focus for a wide ranging analysis of how ideals can motivate and inspire different people in different ways In this novel we find skeptics like William , mystical non conformists like Umbertino de Casale , terrorists and revolutionaries like the Dolcinite heretics and rigid fundamentalists like Jorge and Bernard Gui At the time of its first publication, the parallels between the book s religious politics and modern manifestations of the same ways of thinking, including Cold War political expediency and terrorists like the Red Brigades, would have been obvious to Italian readers These days, in the wake of 9 11 and the Iraq War, Eco s analysis has not lost any of its resonance Some warnings for new readers if you think the truly appalling The Da Vinci Code was masterful writing , you probably want to save yourself time and effort and read something else It s not as daunting as many make out, but Rose is far from a light read Eco also deliberately made the first 100 pages a difficult read, but stick with it All those obscure politics and odd names do make some sense after a while Secondly, many reviewers have complained about the untranslated Latin passages Despite what some of them have said, these are rarely than a line or two and usually short lines at that Medievalists will recognise most of them anyway they are quotes from the Vulgate, Occam and Aquinas and so on, and usually famous ones , but non specialists will usually get the essence of them from their contexts In almost all cases they are roughly translated or paraphrased in the dialogue that precedes or follows them anyway, so they aren t actually untranslated at all they just look that way Thirdly, people who approach this novel merely as a medieval whodunit a la the Brother Caedfel mysteries are likely to find Rose a strain While the mystery story forms the basis of the plot, there is a lot to this novel than plot Some have said they found the mystery clich d and derivative of other mysteries Ummm yes Eco is a postmodernist It s meant to be derivative The real joy of this novel is its layers of meaning, which is why it s one that can be read and re read with new discoveries every time It s a delight to read and great exercise for the mind and spirit, as well as a counter to those who think the Middle Ages was simply a period of superstition and ignorance Far from being an anachronism or a prefigurement of enlightened times, William of Baskerville represents the medieval voices of reason, innovation and logic that are ignored by most popular representations of this badly misunderstood period A must read but with your brain well and truly in high gear. 293 Il nome della rosa The Name of the Rose, Umberto EcoThe Name of the Rose Italian Il nome della rosa is the 1980 debut novel by Italian author Umberto Eco It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery, in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory It was translated into English by William Weaver in 1983 2009 1391 880 9789643344344 1394 864 9786005452761 1365 1368 9645511275 1386 160 9789648897197 1980 1327 1986 Forget Christopher Hitchens Away with that Richard Doggins guy For a truly penetrating look at religion and atheism, Umberto Eco, he da man The Name of the Rose is a profoundly nihilistic book It is ostensibly a book about a murder mystery A man, a monk rather, Brother William, arrives with his assistant, Adso, at an abbey high in the Italian Alps A murder has been committed, and Brother William will apply reason and logic a Sherlock avant la lettre to deduce the murderer Or does he He does indeed find out the process by which the victims die And there is a villain The novel begins, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God And it then proceeds to systematically dismantle all words merely signifiers leading to other signifiers labyrinth without end Umberto Eco stares in the abyss, and the abyss laughs mockingly back I was profoundly moved, depressed, and discombobulated Five stars whatever the hell that means. The Name of the Rose is a horribly pretentious, pedantic, verbose novel And it stinks too Under the guise of a medieval mystery Umberto Eco has written a diatribe on philosophical ideas and not presented all of them accurately in order to impress upon the reader how very smart he is indeed Characterization, moments of human reality truth, and most importantly accessibility to the reader are clearly repulsive ideas to Mr Eco.I can sum up the book, which takes place at a monastery in northern Italy in 1327 thus Monks have crazy visions, lots of them and their visions don t advance the plot one iota Umberto Eco knew Latin, and he wants you to be damn sure to know it The narrator has a vison in which Eco shows off that he knows Bible stories, lots of them, and can throw them into a blender to create some post apocalyptic nonsense, again to no point in the story My mommy read Bible stories to me too I get the references Eco was making I imagine that would disappoint him He clearly hates novels that actually involve the reader Eco is actually a very bad version of Dan Brown Read that sentence again Yep I said it The text s great d nouement is straight out of one of Brown s novels with the same obvious villain religious fanatic that the reader can see coming a mile away Mr Brown can t write, but he is a good storyteller Eco can t write and editing is out of his frame of reference AND he is a horrid storyteller The arrogant and meandering Postscript written by the author he takes 40 pages to explain to you how great he and his book are is truly terrible It will make you detest the writer As if you will need help after finishing this torture Did no one ever tell this guy to shut up Throughout these 40 pages he contradicts himself, and talks down to the reader too many times to count.Really my biggest frustration with The Name of the Rose is that it infrequently presents an interesting idea which if followed up would have made for intriguing reading Among them, the idea of books speaking among themselves and some thoughts on the nature of learning that had much potential There are nuggets throughout the text that if taken out of context are quite insightful and worthy of thought But then Eco s ego gets the better of him and he pontificates and belabors each point he makes Every time he presents an idea philosophical, educational, religious or other he makes the point in 2 3 pages and then goes on to lecture the reader for another 10 20 pages on the same point redundantly If those redundancies alone had been cut the text would have been 300 pages and significantly less bad.A member of my book club picked this text, and the way the meeting for this book went clearly demonstrates its flaws It was not a discussion and an exchange of ideas, but a lecture When you have a group of educated people and 1 or 2 has to tell the rest of them how valuable a text is well I think that says it all right there Ironically Eco writes in the book Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts, therefore it is dumb Unless you are a book by Mr Eco of course, then if people don t read your work because it does not speak to them they are the fools There are quite a few fans of this text who may believe that whopper I for one am not biting.