"The Name Of The Rose"
by Umberto Eco
Category: Fiction / Mystery
611 pages; ISBN: 1-446-32218-0
Rating: 10/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Judith Woolcock Colombo
Published in Italian in 1980 and in English in 1983 Umberto Eco’s “The Name Of The Rose” is a brilliant merging of philosophy, theology, medieval historical myth, and superstition into a spellbinding, heart stopping mystery.
Set in the remote Italian countryside in 1327, this novel depicts a world in transition, one hanging between medieval superstition and fear of knowledge and the ever-increasing desire to know, to understand, and to question.
Eco’s hero William of Baskerville is an English Franciscan whose natural curiosity, scientific bent and love of knowledge have already landed him in trouble with the church. Even his name, which is Eco’s nod to Conan Doyle’s hero Sherlock Holmes, is indicative of this monk’s preference of reason over blind superstition.
As the novel opens William and his young student Adso of Melk arrive at a remote Benedictine monastery to attend a conference between his more liberal thinking Franciscan order and other factions within the church. Arriving early for the conference, William and Adso are approached by the abbot and asked to investigate a series of bizarre murders occurring at the monastery.
The clue to unraveling the murders lies in the abbey’s library. The library itself and the works within it are a riveting description of the medieval scholastic universe.
Although Eco takes us into the heart of medieval politics, philosophy, theology, and religion, the reader does not have to be an expert on the middle ages to understand the world of secret labyrinths, witch hunts, damnation and superstition. However, he or she does have to have a love of mystery and deduction. This love is all it takes to enjoy this beautifully written and enthralling story.
This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I highly recommend it.