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The Name of the Rose (1980)

by Umberto Eco

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,830296225 (4.2)4 / 1069
In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective.
  1. 253
    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. 123
    The Key to The Name of the Rose: Including Translations of All Non-English Passages by Adele J. Haft (Taphophile13)
  3. 102
    Baudolino by Umberto Eco (aces)
  4. 102
    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)
  5. 92
    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. 41
    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)
  10. 75
    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)
  11. 10
    Saggi su Il nome della rosa by Renato Giovannoli (Oct326)
  12. 10
    Possession by A. S. Byatt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  13. 11
    Zwischen Utopie und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die globalisierte Welt by Jennifer Bretz (gangleri)
  14. 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.
  15. 11
    Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)
  16. 00
    Headlong by Michael Frayn (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books are cited by Michael Dirda as examples of antiquarian romance.
  17. 22
    Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish (bertilak)
    bertilak: Both books have subplots about the controversial teachings of Joachim of Fiore.
  18. 11
    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (KayCliff)
  19. 22
    Ex-Libris by Ross King (roby72)
  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 (188)

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Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
I found reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco a chore as it was dense, slow moving and complex. Often touted as a whodunit, I would class the book as historical fiction as it is set in an Italian monastery in 1327, and the mystery also includes a fair amount of biblical analysis, medieval studies, and a slight knowledge of classical Latin as there are many quotes that need to be deciphered.

The story is told by Adso, a young novice monk who is travelling with William of Baskerville, who has been called upon to investigate a crime in a Benedictine abbey. Of course the deaths mount and it becomes apparent that William is on the trail of a conspiracy with both dangerous knowledge and the future of the Catholic Church hanging in the balance. William is a very interesting character and he sets about solving the mystery with logic, theology and his own innate curiosity and intelligence. The book is layered with history, religion and, the part I found most difficult, lengthy passages of medieval rhetoric.

Originally published in 1980, The Name of the Rose has won many awards and is considered a literary masterpiece. For me, it was just too long, too dense, and too difficult to keep track of. The many untranslated Latin passages made me feel uneducated and I suspect that I might have gotten more out of simply watching the 1986 film. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 17, 2023 |
  BegoMano | Mar 5, 2023 |
  SueJBeard | Feb 14, 2023 |
As Brother William of Baskerville, an English Franciscan monk, nears the Italian abbey where he’s to attend a conclave, he correctly deduces from tracks in the snow and other minute details that the party of brethren approaching him on the road are seeking a horse — whose name he also guesses.

Naturally, this astonishes both the search party and William’s companion, his scribe, a German novice named Adso. It also pleases the abbot, who’s delighted to have so keen an observer on hand, because a young monk has died under suspicious circumstances, and the mystery must be solved before the conclave takes place in a few days’ time.

Or, to be precise, the abbot seems pleased, but the readily apparent struggle between truth and expediency dividing the abbey’s occupants, heightened by the anticipated high-level meeting, clouds his motives.

The year is 1327, and the church is fighting itself, with one pope in Rome, and the other in Avignon. The expected French envoys — and, menacingly, their accompanying armed force — include a charismatic, unscrupulous inquisitor whom William knows and fears; he was once an inquisitor himself but gave it up because he felt the entire process of hunting heretics was irrational and unjust.

Since then, he has openly avowed the empirical philosophy of Roger Bacon and William Occam (he of the famous razor), beliefs that unsettle many other monks and, in their eyes, skate dangerously close to heresy.

Moreover, the abbot has forbidden William to investigate the library stacks, labyrinthine rooms that no one save the librarian himself may enter. This restriction cripples William’s efforts, particularly after more monks die, and he supposes that a hidden text holds the key. So, with Adso in tow, he invades the abbey’s sanctum sanctorum, with ever-startling results.

Adso makes a superb narrator and foil, a Watson scared of where knowledge will lead, to William’s Holmes, who thinks knowledge itself can be neither good nor evil. A weighty theme, and The Name of the Rose tips the scales at almost 600 pages, but Eco does a brilliant job focusing on two issues that, at first glance, seem too ridiculous to kill for, whether for personal motives, to serve the church, or for reasons of state.

First, did Christ ever laugh? And second, did he and his apostles choose poverty, the belief on which the Franciscan order rests?

But the narrative, if at length, shows why these questions matter in 1327 and today. If Christ did not laugh, the official reasoning goes, satire, jokes, and humor are either vile, a threat to faith, or both. However, William argues that if a devout person must have only a certain sober, humorless mind, then the inquisitors rule, as in fact they do, and the crucial precept of accepting faith through free will ceases to exist.

As William warns Adso, “The Antichrist can be born from piety itself, from excessive love of God or of the truth, as the heretic is born from the saint and the possessed from the seer. Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.”

The question of poverty has a more immediate political implication. The Franciscan order has splintered, prompting rebellions against church power, to which the church has responded by burning heretics, charging the use of magic, and accusing their opponents of free love and appalling butchery. But as William tells Adso, the rebels don’t care about church doctrines, especially; they resent the extreme wealth of the church and the regimes it supports, both of which contribute to keep the poor as they are.

Amid all this, monks continue to die, and William must divert his efforts from solving the mystery to play politician during the conclave, standing up for his beliefs while avoiding condemnation. As you may have figured out by now (how did I give it away?), The Name of the Rose is a discursive book, but no less mesmerizing for that:

The Name of the Rose does what the best historical fiction should: illuminate the past by its own lights and therefore reveal the present. As a mystery, it is excellent; to that, add profundity and power. ( )
1 vote Novelhistorian | Jan 29, 2023 |
Brother William of Baskerville and his novice assistant play a 14th-century Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they investigate deaths taking place in a monastery about to be visited by two church delegations fighting each other for religious and secular control at a time of religious schisms that foreshadow the Reformation.

A huge, epic, at times maddeningly overwritten novel. When things were happening, it was an interesting book; when the author digressed (for pages and pages and pages), I found myself committing the cardinal sin of skipping the moment I saw one of these digressions coming. I'm not against digressions in books, I just want them to be relevant to the story, rather than being included because an Italian editor didn't have the guts to pull Umberto Eco aside and say, "Nice story. Do you mind if we cut out about a hundred pages total, from several different places, where nobody will miss them? You'll still have 700 pages left."

I hate to say this, but I really do believe that this story is best enjoyed as encapsulated by the film by the same name starring Sean Connery as the sleuthing monk and Christian Slater as his naive sidekick. The only reason I hesitate to endorse the movie over the book is that the movie doesn't quite do justice to the actual Church history that the novel is trying to capture, and which is itself interesting. Aside from that, you get a much more agile tale told in the context of the film. ( )
  Ricardo_das_Neves | Jan 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
35 livres cultes à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie
Quels sont les romans qu'il faut avoir lu absolument ? Un livre culte qui transcende, fait réfléchir, frissonner, rire ou pleurer… La littérature est indéniablement créatrice d’émotions. Si vous êtes adeptes des classiques, ces titres devraient vous plaire.
De temps en temps, il n'y a vraiment rien de mieux que de se poser devant un bon bouquin, et d'oublier un instant le monde réel. Mais si vous êtes une grosse lectrice ou un gros lecteur, et que vous avez épuisé le stock de votre bibliothèque personnelle, laissez-vous tenter par ces quelques classiques de la littérature.
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 (151 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eco, Umbertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Čale, MoranaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buffa, AiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frýbort, ZdenìkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frick, OttmarCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodge, DavidIntroductionsecondary 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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