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The Name of the Rose: including the…
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The Name of the Rose: including the Author's Postscript (original 1980; edition 1994)

by Umberto Eco, William Weaver (Translator)

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6,860102536 (4.15)5
Member:clevercelt
Title:The Name of the Rose: including the Author's Postscript
Authors:Umberto Eco
Other authors:William Weaver (Translator)
Info:Harvest Books (1994), Paperback, 552 pages
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The Name of the Rose / Postscript to The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980)

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I told my sister I was thinking about labyrinths before and while reading [b:House of Leaves|24800|House of Leaves|Mark Z. Danielewski|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403889034s/24800.jpg|856555] and she insisted that I turn to this book next. I've heard of this book before, but I don't know where. And when I mean heard of, I mean heard of in some enticing context, which means another person or a material I really trusted, not just some list of 'best books' or the like. But for the life of me I can't figure out where I heard it mentioned before and why it stood out, which is rare.

There were many things I did not expect this book to be at first, with the extensive theological discussion originally the most baffling to me. I'm armed with a background in religious studies and had professors who specialized in this period, but even then there was much that was new to me and I constantly wondered what I was getting into.

But the thing is that this book is not so much about a monastic murder-mystery duo as it is an exploration of the theological climate of 14th-century Christianity with some murdered monks in the background. I think the ending of the novel makes this more evident than anything. The fact that the library burns down, which is fit to make every scholar weep, and the culprit dies and takes the book with him--which is brilliant--just underlines what appears to be Eco's primary interest in writing the novel. I feel like the theological discussion is what people like least about this book and I'll admit I was sometimes bored by it and wished to get on to the action. But at other times I had to step back and appreciate the way that Eco displayed just how essential these questions and arguments were politically and personally.

I also have to say that I loved the way the descriptions of the artwork in the churches and the margins of texts. I think of medieval art as somewhat silly. Perspective hasn't been developed yet, and while there are really beautiful illuminated manuscripts and mosaics and such they don't look realistic to my modern eyes. Rampant lions drawn by someone who's never seen a lion are laughable. As an atheist a depiction of the Antichrist is intellectually interesting but not particularly moving. But these images strike real fear and awe into Adso, and it made me think of how 'wonder' was a physical as much as mental/emotional reaction. Wide eyes, parted lips (and I picture works of art from the period with people expressing wonder in just this way). Those images were a reality for Adso, and while at times his fear and wonder seemed excessive reactions to me, keeping in mind his Weltanschauung heightened my appreciation for the way Eco handled those responses. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
The Name of the Rose did not disappoint. It is an immersive read, populated with unpredictable characters, the narrative cookfire tended (if not exactly stoked) by an interesting whodunnit, and everything -- dialogue, setting, period detail, yes even the expository dumps -- everything set in a beguiling historical armature. Eco offers such nuggets as when pigs are best slaughtered (late Autumn), the daily round of monastic living, the etymological origin of the Dominican Order (viz, God's Dogs), and speculations on Aristotle's second book of Poetics, now lost. The asides themselves are enough to hold my attention. Brought together, the ingredients simmer along in an agreeable cultural stew. It was over before I wanted it to be.

It's helpful to encounter reminders the Christian Church was never a monolithic enterprise, neither homogeneous nor founded on consistent doctrine and practices. Better to see Church history as precisely the opposite, an interminable juggling act, one hand hiding discrepancies, the other hand swapping out one outlook for a contradictory one; now marrying ideal with dissenting principle, now opening arms to abused heretics. (Kuhnian science is no different, a similar story in another vernacular.) Eco happily recounts this chestnut, his particular re-telling set in a fictional monastery, surrounded by the ecclesiastical history of the 14th Century. Key tensions and conflicts among characters mirroring factual heresy and theological dissent. Chief among these are the politics of poverty (Dulcinians and Minorites), the resulting mendicant orders (here, Dominicans Thomas Aquinas & Bernard Gui, Franciscans William of Occam & Roger Bacon), the horsetrading of scheming popes.

Layered atop all of this: a delicious take on semiotics and metanarrative trickery, sincere and yet very much tongue in cheek. Without spoiling or divulging much at all, Eco shares in his postscript some of his occupations and structural intentions when writing the novel.

In short, well worth reading again. ( )
4 vote elenchus | Aug 1, 2016 |
Way too tedious to be any fun. If I'm driven to skim everything but the plot bits, I might as well just rewatch the movie and reread some Borges.
  xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
If I were to comment on why this book is so brilliant, I'd have to give away the ending. Umberto Eco has written what appears to be a "mystery novel" set in a 14th century monastery. And while it has all the suspense of a typical mystery novel, it is *far* from being what many people assess it as being--all plot and no substance with an unsatisfying ending.

In truth it is the ending that justifies the entire book, but I will admit, it is sort of like an in-joke for students of literature.

But there is no better setting, I think, than the library that is the focus of the book, its very center. Pay attention to the library, and the beautiful prose (even in translation!) and this book will captivate you the way it did me.

Simply brilliant. ( )
1 vote voncookie | Jun 30, 2016 |
If I were to comment on why this book is so brilliant, I'd have to give away the ending. Umberto Eco has written what appears to be a "mystery novel" set in a 14th century monastery. And while it has all the suspense of a typical mystery novel, it is *far* from being what many people assess it as being--all plot and no substance with an unsatisfying ending.

In truth it is the ending that justifies the entire book, but I will admit, it is sort of like an in-joke for students of literature.

But there is no better setting, I think, than the library that is the focus of the book, its very center. Pay attention to the library, and the beautiful prose (even in translation!) and this book will captivate you the way it did me.

Simply brilliant. ( )
  anna_hiller | Jun 22, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Umberto Ecoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Naturally, A Manuscript

On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbé Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en français d'après l'édition de Dom J. Mabillon (Aux Presses de l'Abbaye de la Source, Paris, 1842). Supplemented by historical information that was actually quite scant, the book claimed to reproduce faithfully a fourteenth-century manuscript that, in its turn, had been found in the monastery of Melk by the great eighteenth-century man of learning, to whom we owe so much information about the history of the Benedictine order. The scholarly discovery (I mean mine, the third in chronological order) entertained me while I was in Prague, waiting for a dear friend. Six days later Soviet troops invaded that unhappy city. I managed, not without adventure, to reach the Austrian border at Linz, and from there I journeyed to Vienna, where I met my beloved, and together we sailed up the Danube.
Note
Adso's manuscript is divided into seven days, and each day into periods corresponding to the liturgical hours. The subtitles, in the third person, were probably added by Vallet. But since they are helpful in orienting the reader, and since this usage is also not unknown to much of the vernacular literature of the period, I did not feel it necessary to eliminate them.
Prologue
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was beginning with God and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the one never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals even when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil.
First Day

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In which the foot of the abbey is reached, and
William demonstrates his great acumen
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It was a beautiful morning at the end of November. During the night it had snowed, but only a little, and the earth was covered with a cool blanket no more than three fingers high. In the darkness, immediately after lauds, we heard Mass in a village in the valley. Then we set off toward the mountain, as the sun first appeared.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156001314, Paperback)

It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:34 -0400)

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. His delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths that take place in seven days and nights of apocalyptic terror. The body of one monk is found in a cask of pigs' blood, another is floating in a bathhouse, still another is crushed at the foot of a cliff.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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