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Recommended Fiction: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

by Pamela Tarajcak on 2022-12-16T08:34:49-05:00 | 0 Comments

“Having reached the end of my poor sinner’s life, my hair now white, I grow old as the world does, waiting to be lost in the bottomless pit of silent and deserted divinity, sharing in the light of angelic intelligences; confined now with my heavy, ailing body in this cell in the dear monastery of Melk, I prepare to leave on this parchment my testimony as to the wonderous and terrible events that I happened to observe in my youth, now repeating all that I saw and heard, without venturing to seek a design, as if to leave to those who will come after (if the Antichrist has not come first) signs of signs, so that the prayer of deciphering may be exercised on them.” (1) 

Cover ArtThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco; William Weaver (Translator)
Call Number: FIC ECON (Steubenville)
ISBN: 0156001314
Publication Date: 1994-09-28

Name of the Rose is a heavy book. There is no doubt about it, and it most certainly won’t be for everyone.  The book seems like it has the most absurd anachronistic plot.  In the Thirteenth Century, Franciscan Friar William of Baskerville (a very thin allusion to Sherlock Holmes) takes his young apprentice Adso of Melk to a conference held in a Benedictine Monastery in the Italian Alps.  This conference is to debate the Poverty of Christ. When Brothers William and Adso arrive, the Abbot has something odd for them.  Apparently, several of the monks of his abbey have mysteriously turned up dead.  He knows that William, previously part of the Inquisition, is an expert investigator and uses the most logical of means to solve questions.  The Abbot trusts William, and asks him to figure out what happened to these monks.  What William discovers is that these monks were all connected to the Scriptorium in some way. The Scriptorium was the place where monks transcribed and illuminated books and manuscripts.  His investigation begins to hone in there.  Meanwhile, Adso, being very young, gets exposed to some of the harshness and strangeness of the world.   

Again, this book is not for everyone, but for a lack of a really perfect January read to recommend, I kind of cornered myself into this one.  It’s dense. With lots of nods to medieval and classical philosophy and Latin dialog. it may be a slog for many readers.  Eco was an academic, so most of this book is very academic in tone.  The reason I recommend this is because  it is perfect for the frigidness of January.  Reading the events that happen in that monastery feels really cold.  You feel like you want to be under a blanket for the whole day while you read this book.  The book is also considered a modern classic; so it is a very good way to get one introduced to classic reading.  For all of the denseness, the book is enjoyable (if you can slog through some of the more academic stuff) because William is an engrossing character.  So his brilliance makes the mystery interesting. 

Again, Name of the Rose isn’t for everyone.  But if you can slog through it, it’s a worthy read perfect for a cold January (and it will take you probably the month to get through it the first time).  Well, besides the beginning of the semester, and the rest of your life stuff, what else do you have to do in January? 

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