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The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose (1980)

by Umberto Eco

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,263237206 (4.2)3 / 905
  1. 223
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (ehines, hankreardon, Sensei-CRS)
    ehines: Surprised not to find this way up on Name of the Rose's rec list. FP is a much more recent period piece--the period is marked by 1968 as Name of the Rose's is marked by the emergence of the Franciscans. Well done look at the conspiratorial mindset.
  2. 91
    Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both feature ghastly murders in a monastery in a time of religious conflict and turmoil. The Name of the Rose (medieval Italy) is more philosophical, while Dissolution (Tudor England) is more of a straight-forward historical mystery. Both offer interesting insights into the political and religious issues of the times.… (more)
  3. 103
    The Key to The Name of the Rose: Including Translations of All Non-English Passages by Adele J. Haft (Taphophile13)
  4. 82
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (Booksloth)
  5. 71
    Baudolino by Umberto Eco (aces)
  6. 71
    The Quincunx by Charles Palliser (Booksloth)
  7. 72
    The Dumas Club by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (mrcmrc)
  8. 74
    My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (adithyajones, IamAleem)
    adithyajones: Both of them are historical mystery fiction but both are not plain vanilla whodunits rather serious books which looks at the life at that time in minute detail
  9. 74
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (girlunderglass)
    girlunderglass: Two words: mystery + learned men (in The Name of the Rose, scholars of ecclesiastical books, in TSH of ancient Greek books)
  10. 10
    Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  11. 00
    The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra (Limelite)
    Limelite: Two clerics sent to investigate mysterious and secretive goings on in abbeys find death and revelation as they successfully untangle and avert the web of church politics and conflicts over man's greatest artistic and literary heritage.
  12. 00
    Headlong by Michael Frayn (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  13. 11
    Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)
  14. 11
    Zwischen Utopie und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die globalisierte Welt by Jennifer Bretz (gangleri)
  15. 11
    Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Oct326)
    Oct326: C'è molto Borges nel "Nome della Rosa". Se qualcuno ha letto il secondo ma non il primo, sarebbe un'ottima idea leggere "Finzioni": vi (ri)troverà la biblioteca labirintica, le disquisizioni teologiche, l'inchiesta con la falsa pista, e altri motivi che hanno mirabilmente (mi vien da dire: vertiginosamente) ispirato Eco.… (more)
  16. 22
    Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish (bertilak)
    bertilak: Both books have subplots about the controversial teachings of Joachim of Fiore.
  17. 22
    Ex-Libris by Ross King (roby72)
  18. 11
    The Athenian Murders by José Carlos Somoza (Booksloth)
  19. 11
    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (KayCliff)
  20. 11
    A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor (Laura400)
    Laura400: A brief book that relates this 20th Century author's travels to four monasteries, including extended stays in two French Benedictine monasteries. It is not a mystery or a book like "The Name of The Rose." But it is a nice meditation on a way of life that appears nearly unchanged over the centuries.… (more)

(see all 29 recommendations)

1980s (2)

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English (185)  Spanish (13)  Italian (11)  French (8)  German (5)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (235)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
This is a very complex book. There are many themes explored, losely connected by a mystery that the narrator novice monk, Adso, and his master, brother William, is trying to solve. Much of the book is devoted to exploring the psyche of the 14th century monk. The monks in the abbey are mostly superstitious and live studying the words of God and fearing the Devil. Symbolism of both are woven through the book, we see artwork, dreams, books in the library mingled with current events, hearsay and legend. Much discussion is devoted to the various different orders, many heretical sects and the to us seemingly very fine details that distinguish them. Fine theological detail however can decide life and death, and the fate of the Pope, the Emperor and all they represent. We are treated to and overburdened with details of church politics, stories of various saints and heretics, the proceedings of the inquisitions, and the horrors they inflicted upon their victims. We see how easily anyone could be accused of heresy and witchcraft and burned at the stake.

Besides history and theology, Eco also ponders life's big questions in rich, pictorial detail, such as the nature of love, love sickness, passion, thirst for knowledge, and the sin of intellectual pride. All these are depicted through discussions, dreams, visions and books. The library of the abbey becomes the focus of the mystery but also of the knowledge, and the role of books and learning in acquiring the truth.

After much pondering There is no real message, which I believe is the message - that there is no absolute truth, we just have to stay curious and open to many interpretations. Even if we arrive to the right conclusion, it might be via errors on the way - or we could destroy what we protect if we become too rigid in interpreting it.

This is a difficult read, it took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I was rewarded. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
On the surface, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose looks like Sherlock Holmes in a 14th century Italian abbey. There’s a murder mystery; Adso, a young Austrian monk at the time of the story’s events, serves as a Watson-like, first-person narrator; and William, a former inquisitor, plays the part of an observant English detective. Eco even nods at this relationship by having William hail from Baskerville (the site of Holmes’ most famous case).

But The Name of the Rose is far more than a whodunit—much of the book is an examination of how knowledge is obtained and certified as truth.

This thematic exploration begins before the story starts. In his foreword, Eco relates the (fictional) tale of how he came upon The Name of the Rose by accident and discovered that it was a secondhand translation of Adso’s original recollection, which our narrator wrote many decades after the real happenings transpired.

From the outset, then, Eco calls into question the veracity of what we’re about to experience.

Soon after the story proper gets underway—with the mysterious death of a monk, causing the abbot to summon William and his deductive powers—Adso learns that an ecclesiastic meeting will take place at the abbey in a few days, with the purpose of determining whether one order’s preference for monastic poverty should be considered doctrine or heresy. The consequences of such decisions are made plain as Adso hears about and recalls instances when followers of “false” creeds were tortured and burned at the stake. He also participates in debates over philosophy and Christian principles, like whether laughter is divine, and if Jesus engaged in it.

In contrast, William’s inquiry into what becomes a string of grisly deaths deals with questions more definitively answered. How did the first monk die? If someone killed him, why? What about the second death? Is there a connection? And so on.

Yet here, too, Eco injects uncertainty, showing that in detective work—and religion, and life in general—one can be right for the wrong reasons, and vice versa. “I understood,” Adso writes at one point, “that, when he didn’t have an answer, William proposed many to himself, very different from one another… [H]e amused himself by imagining how many possibilities were possible.”

The space Eco devotes to these matters occasionally slows the pace of the story. So do his often-lengthy descriptions, like when Adso ponders an ornate door for almost an entire chapter; I found the beginning of the novel tough going, charming but dense. (In his afterword, Eco says—rather snobbishly—that this was intentional: “[T]hose first hundred pages are like a penance or an initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him.”)

But the payoff was worth the effort. I enjoyed both the unraveling of the mystery and the thought exercises it provoked, even if I didn’t interpret The Name of the Rose’s message exactly as Eco intended.

And indeed, I think that’s his point.

(For more reviews like this one, see www.nickwisseman.com) ( )
  nickwisseman | Oct 8, 2018 |
Mysteries are generally not my thing, but I actually really enjoyed this book for the most part. The central mystery was exciting and involving, and the way everything was tied up with literature was enjoyable for me as a book nerd. I will admit that as a non-Christian the periodic lengthy theological events kinda lost me, but not to the point that it interfered with my overall enjoyment of the book too much. I read (and write) a lot of historical fiction, but usually not stuff that's set this far in the past, and Eco did an impressively good job with really making the reader feel fully immersed in that medieval world. ( )
  selfcallednowhere | Aug 30, 2018 |
"Stat Rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus"

In "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco

As a novelist Eco blends the style of Arthur Conan Doyle with that of Cervantes in a most intellectually entertaining way but with surprising heart, also. It makes me keen to explore the labyrinth of his philosophy, which seems to exist in a realm of its own immune from the tedium and drudgery of most contemporary attempts at philosophy. Do you remember pictures in which you can see a nice girls or an old woman depending on the prospective you are using: What I like of Umberto Eco's books is the indeterminate aspects of described situations which often are a surprise for readers. You can never predict how the story will develop and this is true for his first "The Name of the Rose" and his last "Numero Zero" book. “The Name of the Rose” contains a Latin sentence: Stat rosa pristina nomine: Does this mean that the rose existed before the name was given or that before the name a rose was present? Dense in the most wonderful way but, with Eco being what he was, you don't feel it is at all pretentious; I prefer savouring and pondering some of his sentences for minutes on end before moving on to the next. It's pretty clear that's what he did when writing it. The film was entertaining as a murder mystery but, precisely because of that, probably diverted most viewers away from what the ex-Catholic Eco was actually saying.

Umberto Eco invented the medieval mystery genre; and knew that 'modern' people have always been around; and that there were no 'medieval' or 'other' ones. He was a medieval scholar as well as a semiologist who I saw speak, on the subject of names for colours and any cultural difference there might be in this. In fact he spoke about translation and used this, and the translations of some of his works, as an example of what might be lost or not in translation from one cultural situation to another.

The book will last also because of its sense of a common humanity and an understanding of the petty jealousies and shortcomings of academic, sorry monastic life. Perhaps it's a sort of displaced campus novel, like David Lodge or Malcolm Bradbury. It also shows how academic studies can have a popular effect; and “The Name of a Rose” film, not like the book really, also contains his sense that it is tragedy that knowledge can lost in its transmission but also comedy in the way that through scholarly inquiry, and also effort and luck, much can be regained.

There is so much that can be gained when we look at 'reality' and received 'truth' in a new or fresh way. This is an avant-garde element of his thinking which was not of the left or radical like that but very liberal in the sense of libertarian. From a sceptical and erudite medievalist and thinker came a great and popular work that is Italian in its fable-like elements but also European. His leading character in the "Name of the Rose" is also English and he was an Anglophile.

Coming back to the last sentence is "Stat Rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" (The first sentence of the actual narrative is as banal as it gets: "Era una bella mattina di fine Novembre." The first sentence of the Prologue is "I principio era il Verbo e il Verbo era presso Dio", i.e., identical with the opening of St. John's gospel!) It is by now well known that that final sentence is a quote from De contemptu mundi by Bernard of Cluny/Morlaix/Morlay. Of course the rose exists before the name is given, but the sentence more or less explicitly states that names remain after the referents have ceased to exist. It is of course open to further interpretation.

This great populariser of philosophical thought was always in search of a truth behind the appearance of things, just like his detective protagonist William Baskerville. This idea, his writing affirms, will last.

NB: One of my favourite statements by Eco (roughly formulated from memory) is that when critics objected that certain passages in "The Name of the Rose" were completely anachronistic, i.e., out of keeping with medieval sensibilities and attitudes, in almost each case the passages they cited were ones he had translated word for word from authentic medieval sources. Unlike the critics, who only knew the popular, simplistic view of the middle ages, Eco knew all the nooks and crannies of medieval culture. ( )
2 vote antao | Aug 18, 2018 |
Delightful and dense and beautiful to read. I found this thoroughly enjoyable and hope to come back to it in 10 years for a second read. ( )
  brakketh | Aug 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
The Name of the Rose is a monumental exercise in mystification by a fun-loving scholar.
added by Shortride | editTime, Patricia Blake (Jun 13, 1983)
One may find some of the digressions a touch self-indulgent... yet be carried along by Mr. Eco's knowledge and narrative skills. And if at the end the solution strikes the reader as more edifying than plausible, he has already received ample compensation from a richly stocked and eminently civilized intelligence.
The Jesuits didn’t exist in William of Baskerville’s time, but – learned in Aquinas and Aristotle and prepared to use the empirical techniques of Roger Bacon – William would make a very good English Jesuit. Although in orders, he lacks the rotundity, Wildean paradoxicality and compassion of Father Brown, but clearly Dr Eco knows his Chesterton. Theology and criminal detection go, for some reason, well together...

I probably do not need to recommend this book to British readers. The impetus of foreign success should ensure a large readership here. Even Ulster rednecks, to say nothing of mild Anglicans who detest Christianity cooking with garlic, will feel comforted by this image of a secure age when there was an answer to everything, when small, walled society could be self-sufficient, and the only pollution was diabolic. Patriots will be pleased to find such a society in need of British pragmatism.
added by SnootyBaronet | editObserver, Anthony Burgess

» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Čale, MoranaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buffa, AiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frýbort, ZdenìkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Middelthon, CarstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SanjulianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schifano, Jean-NoëlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuin, JennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velthoven, Th. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlot, HennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voogd, Pietha deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Костюкович… ЕленаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.
There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.
not infrequently, books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves.
I have seen many other fragments of the cross in other churches. If all were genuine, our Lord’s torment could not have been on a couple of planks nailed together, but on an entire forest.
In my country [Austria], when you joke you say something and then you laugh very noisily so everyone shares in your joke. William [a Briton] laughed only when he said serious things, and remained very serious when he was presumably joking.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
This is a mystery wherein several deaths, presumed to be murders, are investigated by a former inquisitor, Brother William, at the request of the Abbot who wishes, for political reasons, to resolve the deaths and their attendant scandals before the arrival of a Papal delegation.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156001314, Paperback)

“A brilliantly conceived adventure into another time” (San Francisco Chronicle) by critically acclaimed author Umberto Eco.


The year is 1327. Franciscans 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 to the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, and the empirical insights of Roger Bacon to find the killer. 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”) armed with a wry sense of humor and a ferocious curiosity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:33 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective, penetrating the cunning labyrinth of the abbey and deciphering coded manuscripts for clues.

» see all 10 descriptions

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