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The Name of the Rose (1980)

by Umberto Eco

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,114268211 (4.2)4 / 994
In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective.
  1. 243
    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. 101
    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. 113
    The Key to The Name of the Rose: Including Translations of All Non-English Passages by Adele J. Haft (Taphophile13)
  4. 81
    Baudolino by Umberto Eco (aces)
  5. 82
    The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (mrcmrc)
  6. 71
    The Quincunx by Charles Palliser (Booksloth)
  7. 82
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (Booksloth)
  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. 31
    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)
  11. 10
    Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  12. 11
    Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)
  13. 00
    Headlong by Michael Frayn (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  14. 11
    Zwischen Utopie und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die globalisierte Welt by Jennifer Bretz (gangleri)
  15. 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.
  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)
Europe (182)

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English (199)  Spanish (19)  Italian (16)  French (10)  German (5)  Dutch (5)  Catalan (5)  Swedish (2)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (267)
Showing 1-5 of 199 (next | show all)
A bunch of repressed, horny monks get murdered while pondering whether Jesus laughed (or was poor). The tongue-in-cheek “historical” descriptions were hilarious (e.g., gay sex is “very evil”, Arabic script is “worms, snakes, fly dung”, the Antichrist “will come from the race of the circumcised”, and women are “vessels of the Devil” or “dungs of sac”). But the whodunnit has poor payoff with very little action or subtlety, just a lot of papal politics and people taking turns explaining pieces of diabolical scheming. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to pick this title off my TBR shelf. Somewhere along the way I'd gathered that it's not the most straightforward of reads, and I wasn't sure if the setting of a 14th century Italian abbey and divisions within the Catholic church would grab me enough to keep me ploughing through the more challenging sections. I am, however, delighted to have found this a really worthwhile and enjoyable read.

A young novice monk named Adso accompanies his mentor, Brother William of Baskerville, to an Italian abbey famous throughout Christendom for its superlative library. Here, William will be attending a theological meeting to discuss two contentious points which have been splitting orders within the Catholic Church, namely whether Christ was poor or not and whether the pope or the Holy Roman Emperor should hold political authority in Europe. Upon arriving, the abbott tells the visitors about the recent tragedy of a young monk falling to his death from a tower at the abbey, and as William was previously an inquisitor he is asked to discretely investigate how the death occurred so the matter can be quietly put to bed before the controversial delegation arrives. In the week that is to follow more suspicious deaths occur amongst the monks, and the young novice has the learning experience of a lifetime as he observes Brother William's enhanced powers of deduction as he deciphers the secret codes and symbols of the library to find the root of the malevolence within the abbey.

This is exactly the type of subject matter I would run a mile from in a book, so I was surprised at how quickly I became hooked by the story. The setting of the ancient abbey in the Middle Ages was a superb backdrop for the "whodunnit" aspect of the plot, and with a complex cast of pious characters it wasn't obvious who the perpetrator was until close to the end. The famed library of the abbey was so mysterious it almost became a character in its own right, and I thoroughly enjoyed the many scenes that took place within it.

Heavily woven into the story are the themes of the interpretation of signs and the political fallouts within the orders within the Catholic church at that time. Eco was a professor of semiotics, and I would argue that in some passages he loses himself in the joys of his own academic specialism to the detriment of the reading experience for the average reader who may not share the same depth of joy and understanding of this complex area. Similarly, I glazed over a little as some parts of the religious divides were expounded in much lengthier detail than I needed (or wanted). However, in fairness this was the exception rather than the norm, and although The Name of the Rose required close reading to keep track with everything that was going on, I found it hugely interesting and galloped through it accordingly at a fair pace.

4 stars - a book richly rewarding in so many ways. Dropping half a star for the sections in which Eco got carried away with his own ego, and spoilt by Mantel's Cromwell trilogy I really wish the publishers had created a similar list of who's who at the beginning of this novel as the cast of characters and religious political persuasions got complicated at times. ( )
  AlisonY | Mar 31, 2021 |
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
I liked the setting, plot and characters, but found some passages to be slow. Felt like Eco was distracted from the story by pretentious waffling. ( )
  renardkitsune | Dec 31, 2020 |
It's 1327, and monk Brother William and his trainee/scribe/John-Watson-like sidekick Adso have arrived at an Italian abbey. There are charges of heresy flying around various mendicant orders, and William has been called to attend a meeting of the Pope's representatives (this is during the Avignon papacy) and prominent Franciscans as a representative of the Emperor. When he arrives, a monk has been found dead, and William is tasked to investigate. As more monks fall, their deaths echoing the prophecies of Revelations, William and Adso attempt to determine the actor behind the deaths and the secrets of the abbey's labyrinthine library.

This book was unapologetically pretentious, and though I really enjoyed it, I can see why others wouldn't. Even in the most tense moments of the book, it seems that there's always time to spend a few pages of dialogue (with nearly page-long passages by each interlocutor) about fine points of differences in theological leanings among various orders of Catholic monks. Someone just died? Well, when better to read a laundry list of all the holy objects in the abbey's crypt! But wow, this book appealed to the part of me that fell in love with Latin in school; it was a lot of fun to catch the passing allusions to various writers that I could ("if they wanted something here that was not more perennial than bronze..."), even though I'm sure I missed a lot of them. It's definitely a slow read, but I found it really enjoyable, especially given how impressively the historical setting and its context were rendered (and it was a total blast from the past for me as I got to remember my European history). ( )
  forsanolim | Dec 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 199 (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 (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, UmbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Čale, MoranaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buffa, AiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frýbort, ZdenìkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Middelthon, CarstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pochtar, RicardoTranslatorsecondary 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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In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective.

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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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