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Lately, I have been reading very many mysteries. I have been going through the Sherlock Holmes canon and now this. The Name of the Rose on the surface is a medieval murder mystery. As a student of history, I have never been a big fan of the medieval ages in Europe. It’s very dark, violent, and sparse on the artistic movements. The religious tensions and politics does not interest as much as some other historical periods. It was one of the reasons the book was not easy to get into because of this. Though, I found it a very astute and accurate portrait of life in the late medieval ages, eliciting the right tensions, debates and monastic and religious lifestyles. It seemed so realistic to me even with sensational murders; Eco captured the tone and atmosphere meticulously. I did like the characters overall. I was fascinated by Brother William (the detective) and Brother Adso, the Watson to his Holmes. Indeed I am coincidentally reading The Name of the Rose while I go through the Holmes canon, and Eco obviously drew on Conan Doyle. Brother William is based on Sherlock and is even from a place called Baskerville. I also like the idea of a mystery set around and about a library and books. This book has a lot of facets both religiously, philosophically, symbolically, and more. It is not the easiest to analyse at times, and I only realized that in the later pages how obviously post-modern it was. I think I read too many “modern” post-modern books and am not use to reading post-modern books set in the past. The plot itself was not simple, but the book’s themes and discussions are what make it distinctive. I hear that Eco’s follow up work Foucault’s Pendulum is more difficult to read, and I think I will take time before reading Eco again. He requires much analysis and reader concentration. A complex, interesting read.

4 thoughts on “The Name of the Rose

  1. This is one of those titles that’s been languishing unread on my stacks for years. I’m finally feeling an urge to give it a go based on your review.

  2. I keep seeing this book in the library, and I mean to pick it up and give it a try, but something always puts me off. Something about it being medieval, something about murder-mysteries. I think it’ll be too heavy to read and sort out. One of these days. Timing is everything, right?

  3. I’ve always been hesitant to read the book because I liked the movie so much (yes, backwards, I know). I’m afraid the book might be too heavy and bogged in description, even though I like the Middle Ages in general. I know the film must have simplified the plot and made it more pallitable for the general public. Can you tell me how it compares, if indeed you have seen the film?

  4. Its been about five years since I read this… its one of my favorite books. Its definitely not your typical murder mystery. Melinda’s right about the movie simplifying the plot of the book. In all, I think the film version was a pretty decent rendering, all things considering.

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