Day: August 5, 2008

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.