The Name of the Rose

By Umberto Eco

Guess what? It snowed again. No, this post isn’t about snow, but is does match the setting of the book I’ve just finished, in which footsteps left in the snow are clues in a murder mystery. This was one of the few books I’ve read which several people had advised me to read beforehand, and everyone who saw me reading it said ‘That’s such a great book!’. Turns out they were right. I was up until much later than intended last night, trying to get to the end.

I have watched the film. Many years ago, as teenagers, a group of us used to have occasional video nights. We would hire four or five videos and literally watch them all night. The Name of the Rose was the last video shown on one of these occasions and, whilst I know I was awake and watched it all, I can’t remember a single thing about it. Not a thing.

The book was completely engrossing. A picture of religious life in 14th century Europe, combined with a complex murder mystery and characters so well defined you would know them if you met them, makes this one of the best. The language used is amazing as well. I had to resist the temptation to grab a dictionary every time I met a word I’d never seen before (adumbrates, anyone? Melismas?) If I ever read it again I will make sure I have a dictionary alongside, but I didn’t want to distract myself from the story at a first reading, and most of the less common words can be understood from context.

The background of the tale is of inquisitions, heresy and power plays. The focus of the story is the library, a labyrinth within a Monastery, protected by the librarian and Abbot and containing secrets which they intend to keep hidden. What is the strange book which causes so much trouble? And who is killing off the monks, and why?

I’m not telling. You’ll have to get the book and read it for yourself. Go on.

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About planetcoops

Living a busy family life in a beautiful place with a hundred and one things to be achieved.
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5 Responses to The Name of the Rose

  1. Superb book. After I’d read it I instantly went out and bought everything else by Umberto Eco (and a bigger dictionary). I’d probably go for Baudolino next. It’s lots of fun and not quite as dictionary-requiring as, say, Foucault’s Pendulum.

    Ooh! And there was a new one out at the end of last year. Not yet translated into English. Waiting… waiting…

  2. Karen says:

    You two crack me up. What do you mean you had to get a dictionary, don’t you have a big enough vocab? You’ll just have to learn Italian so you can read the latest morsel NOW!!!!

    Tried to read Baudolino a couple of years back while pregnant, couldn’t concentrate enought to finish it before returning it to the library. Must get back to it.

    I loved Focault’s Pendulum, read that while pregnant with Amadea. So much so I wanted to call one of the boys Umberto! Might just have to have another 😉

  3. planetcoops says:

    Ha ha! Oh Karen, you have to have an Umberto now! I have tried to learn Italian, but given that I need a dictionary to help with the English language version, I don’t think learning Italian better would do much good! What a great goal to have though, be able to read the original…

    Oh, and my Amazon wish list just got longer.

    Just one question – do either of you remember the film? Is it worth watching?

  4. Monica says:

    well I’m Italian and I can tell you there is soooo much latin in the Italian version that unless you’re fluent in latin you’re dead. (I wasn’t and had to have a latin vocabulary next to me and it was like doing homework!!)… stick to the English version. Beautiful book though.

    stat rosa pristina nomina… see? I still remember some!

  5. planetcoops says:

    Hi Monica,
    Thanks for commenting. The English version has a lot of Latin in it too. I have to admit I skated over those bits seeing if I could undertand any of it from word roots and didn’t get on very well!

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