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The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose


The Name of the Rose

ratings:
4/5 (4,399 ratings)
Length:
21 hours
Released:
Sep 13, 2013
ISBN:
9781843797630
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as ebookEbook

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Editor's Note

Beloved author’s debut…

A medieval monk-turned-sleuth must employ classical philosophy and theology to decode ancient manuscripts to solve a series of murders in Umberto Eco’s mesmerizing debut.

Description

This hugely engaging story of murder, superstition, religious politics and drama in a medieval monastery was one of the most striking novels to appear in the 1980s. The Name of the Rose is a thrilling story enriched with period detail and laced with tongue-in-cheek allusions to fictional characters, the most striking of which is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville, who displays many characteristics of Sherlock Holmes. Although he looks at the past through a postmodern lens, Eco catapults his readers into the dark medieval world as Brother William tries to discover why people are dying inexplicably and nastily in the monastery. There is something not altogether right within the library that is the pride of the establishment... The old man Adso, who was an impressionable novice at the time, tells the story.
Released:
Sep 13, 2013
ISBN:
9781843797630
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Umberto Eco was born in 1932 in Alessandria, Italy. He is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, a philosopher, historian, literary critic and aesthetician. He is the author of the international bestselling novels The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before, as well as three collections of popular essays, Travels in Hyperreality, Misreadings and How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays. Mr. Eco lives in Milan.


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What people think about The Name of the Rose

4.0
4399 ratings / 127 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    9/10

    Just really delightful.
  • (5/5)
    Delightful and dense and beautiful to read. I found this thoroughly enjoyable and hope to come back to it in 10 years for a second read.
  • (4/5)
    Mysteries are generally not my thing, but I actually really enjoyed this book for the most part. The central mystery was exciting and involving, and the way everything was tied up with literature was enjoyable for me as a book nerd. I will admit that as a non-Christian the periodic lengthy theological events kinda lost me, but not to the point that it interfered with my overall enjoyment of the book too much. I read (and write) a lot of historical fiction, but usually not stuff that's set this far in the past, and Eco did an impressively good job with really making the reader feel fully immersed in that medieval world.
  • (5/5)
    A masterpiece.
  • (5/5)
    Eco - brilliant!
  • (4/5)
    Medieval monks arguing the finer points of papal intrigue, some murders at the abbey, and a phantasmal library - wonderfully done, and translated at that.
  • (3/5)
    Knap postmodernistisch meesterwerk. De leerling-monnik Adso van Melk verzeilt in een moorddetective. Knappe mengeling van genres. Erudiet. En nog spannend bovendien.
  • (4/5)
    There is so much to like about Umberto Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose." It was a hard book for me to rate, though, as there were a few things about it I didn't really love. The novel follows a pair of monks who head to an abbey on two missions -- to help resolve a schism between two different monastic orders and to solve a series of murders, which resolve a library that few are allowed to access.I really enjoyed the mystery itself and the internal politics of the abbey. The novel is a bit of a love letter to books (as well as a condemnation on lust, whether it be physical for for knowledge) which made it a fun read. I didn't find the aspects of the novel dealing with the schism all that interesting so those parts really dragged for me. In the end, I decided on a high rating because the mystery was so well done that I found the enjoyed the book overall.
  • (5/5)
    Although it's a difficult read, it's fascinating. Set in the 1200's in northern Italy, the story is told by Adso, the young helper of William of Baskerville, a priest from England who has been an Inquisitor. William has been called to investigate a murder in a large Abbey filled with many books and monks from around the world. As the story unfolds more murders take place against the background of theological arguments and mysterious signs. The library is held in a round tower and is guarded securely by the Abbot and the librarian. This is also the time of much confusion in the Catholic Church between the Order of Francis and the Pope John XII. Add this to the political upheaval in Europe and Italy and things are very confusing. There are many branches of the Franciscians, some of who actually destroy wealth and others who just live in poverty. The Pope, on the other hand, is in charge of the great wealth of the Catholic Church.The book contains many Latin phrases and vocabulary which is difficult. (I found a book on Google which helped to translate much of the Latin). There are pages of theological arguments and historical portrayals of the many diverse sects of different orders of the church. William is a sort of Sherlock Holmes in reading clues missed by most. There is humor, horror, history, and theology. Certainly not for everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it. The minute details of monks arguing over which would seem to us to be bizarre points becomes almost humorous and makes the reader wonder about what is true and what is not.
  • (2/5)
    I chose this book as my contribution to the Past Offences meme, Crime Fiction of the Year 1980, primarily because I had often meant to tackle it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I originally got a copy from my local library, but the text was so small it was off-putting, so I eventually bought a copy for my Kindle: thankfully fairly cheap.If you'd like a more comprehensive review of this book than what follows, try the one at Past Offences.There are eventually seven deaths at this Italian abbey but they come very slowly, amid an absolute plethora of lengthy Latin quotations that I had little hope of translating and swathes of medieval ecclesiatical debate about such riveting topics as whether Jesus ever laughed, or whether the Devil ever does any good. The crimes centre around the labyrnthine library for which the abbey is known. The main function of the abbey is the copying of books and the preservation of "knowledge", often through external commissions. Many of books are secular rather than religious. Access to the library and the books is very restricted and Brother William finds his investigations blocked at every turn by the librarian and even at times by the Abbott.In addition to the theological arguments the structure of the book is clogged with stories that seem to have little to do with the murder investigation that Brother William is undertaking. The narrator is Brother William's assistant Adso, who is a novice. He doesn't always seem to get the point of the convoluted explanations that William gives him, and there are other times when he goes off on a tangent on his own investigation. The state of the church and the struggle between the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor is described in some detail.So while it is probably good material for the medieval historian, it is not really engaging crime fiction. I am sorry to report that in the long run this was a DNF for me. According to the counter on my Kindle I had read 50%, and had four hours to go. I had a hard time not getting frustrated with the amount of time it was taking, particularly considering its length. The pseudo academic flavour of the style slowed my reading down intolerably. And then eventually I admitted that I had no interest in continuing. Perhaps there was a good story there among all the words, but I was no longer interested in working it out.
  • (3/5)
    A good read. Good description of that period of time.
  • (1/5)
    When this came out, I thought I would like it -- I generally like medieval mysteries, and I like Borges who influenced Eco. Others also assumed I would like it --a friend actually gave me a copy. But in fact I acutely disliked it because I love the fact that mysteries are about providing a rational explanation for chaos, and the whole point of this book is that such a rational explanation is a delusion. This is both emotionally unsatisfying and, I believe, factually untrue.
  • (4/5)
    Very enjoyable. William of Baskerville was a great character, a cross between Dumbledore and Sherlock Holmes.
  • (3/5)
    I gave this one 3 stars because for me, even though the story line & the characters were interesting, I found the book to be bogged down in the minute details, which I know were supposed to enhance the reading, but it slowed it down for me.Adso's memoirs of his travels with his master William, when he was a novice monk, right at first have a taste of hero worship :) William is a brother who used to be a dreaded Inquisitor, but, inexplicably QUIT when he realized that the "demons & devils" furor was causing innocent people their lives. He became a case investigator instead, solving mysteries along the way that in the 1300's people found sensational when to William, they are all easily solved using deductive reasoning, & attention to the details of the world around them.I had wanted to read it for years, & I'm really glad I did, even though it was hard to get through!
  • (2/5)
    It is wishful thinking on my part that my review would capture, firstly, and then later, the mood of my bewilderment and disappointment respectively. The Name Of The Rose is an ode to ignorance. As the saying goes, never attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance. This medieval tale doesn't feel like a contemporary book, which is the aim of most historical fictions. For much of the beginning, politics and theology dominate the proceedings. As this story is a mystery at its heart, its disheartening to report that the best deducting by our heroic detective is carried out right when he and his Watson of a chronicler are setting foot in the abbey. This place is where multiple murders are committed. I zeroed in on the most likely culpable person. I thought, wrongly, that the book would contain red herrings. If the latter were there, they never left the abbey's kitchen. Twists, as we understand it in modern vernacular, is sharply lacking here. There is no evidence of brilliance from our detective duo. Indeed, the bumbling clumsiness, physical even, serves the plot to achieve an actual and symbolic destruction of a repository that has served God and no one else. The point of this book is left open to interpretation. I like to consider the setting of the time and lieu crucial to the underpinnings of what's a simple story at its heart. The key symbol here is the library. It's ironic that the older it gets, the more the rare, handwritten and hand drawn books appreciate in value. At the same time, the content of those books would decrease in accuracy. Relentlessly so. Seen from our eyes, the cherished knowledge of the Dark Ages is nothing but ravings and gibberish. There is also no pity for the girl that Adso sleeps with. Both he and us will never know her name, only her fate. She will be burned at the stake. I know the title of the book doesn't refer to the peasant girl as the Rose. But in that book, she is the only one who comes closest to clearing the meaning of the title.
  • (5/5)
    Came back to this book after a long absence, it was everything I had remembered and so much more. The long diversions into philosophy, theology and eschatology, oft criticized by some, are perfectly pitched by Eco for readability.
    Credit also to his translator, who does a magnificent job with what must have seemed an impenetrable text.
  • (4/5)
    A fantastic historical fiction, an intelectually-stimulating book, an incredibly researched piece of literature. It takes courage to set a murder mystery in a convent in the Middle Ages. The cultural digressions are sometimes tedious, though. Surprisingly dark passages too. The sucess seems to have opened the doors to an endless array of (not so good, not so careful) historical fiction novels ever since.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the best historical mysteries out there. Not to be missed. Movie was good, too, if somewhat different.
  • (3/5)
    Reading this famous book 30 years after the first English edition was an interesting experience. The blurb says it was "a spectacular popular and critical success" but I was underwhelmed.Set in 1327, the book is, at heart, a period whodunnit, with the addition of a lot of largely extraneous information about the schisms and machinations of the catholic church of that era. As a detective story, it is well written and nicely crafted. The historical stuff is authoritatively written and informative. The problem is in the melding of the two parts of the book. The historical stuff is interleaved into the story as asides or artificial diversions to the whodunnit part of the book. As a result, there is no capacity for the author to provide the necessary context and background that would make the quite detailed information accessible and enjoyable. In the end, the historical stuff just tends to distract the reader from a fine detective tale.Read December 2013.
  • (4/5)
    Umberto Eco's first novel is certainly an extraordinary debut - the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated in semiotics and history is clearly on display. The plot is a relatively simple murder-mystery set in a mediaeval abbey, but it is so much more than that. In the pursuit of the truth, William - an English monk and scholar, and the noviciate narrator Adso search for meaning - the meaning of words, ideas, and symbols. Much like how Faust was offered a book that contained everything by the demon Mephistopheles, Eco offers the reader a book that contains digressions and debates on mediaeval heresy, the theological implications of laughter, and symbology to name just a few. Elements of Sherlock Holmes and Jose Louis Borges's The Library of Babel also permeate the story.

    Eco presents The Name of the Rose as a found manuscript that he translated, and as such, continues the air of realism that surrounds the novel's setting: Eco ably recreates the often claustrophobic and yet deeply spiritual atmosphere of a mediaeval abbey. With many excerpts of Latin left untranslated (which as first proves somewhat of a hindrance), the Latin literary life of a monk at the time is also demonstrated.

    The climax of the novel, though dramatic, is entirely derived by happenstance which seems to rob the novel and indeed the actions of William and Adso of a satisfactory triumph. Nevertheless, the climax does allow a final prolonged debate of the nature of mockery and laughter in religion, along with a digression on Aristotle.

    Eco's first novel, then, is indeed a perfect post-modern work: "books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told", the quote in the novel goes. And that is the story which The Name of the Rose tells, the story of books and of a search for meaning, meaning which Eco robs from the novel in its accidentally-arrived conclusion.
  • (4/5)
    I'm so proud of myself for finishing this! (Started it years ago, but didn't make it through.) And it really is a lot of fun, and informative at the same time. Gives a sense of really being there in this Medieval monastery. And of all the great books that haven't been passed down through the ages.
  • (5/5)
    I've read this book several times and several different ways--as a detective novel, it is quite interesting, with lots of interesting side lines. But it's also a novel about theology, the corruptions of power, the nameless poor striving for something out of life, and more. Some of the digressions are long, but they're really interesting if you give them a chance.
  • (3/5)
    There's not much hard data in this book, but I understand that if you read Italian, it's a stylistic triumph. I found the mystery not so good as a Cadfell, but still adequate. I enjoyed the library lust scene both in the book and in the movie, and have my own list of favourites...The missing books of Livy for instance, and the missing parts of Polybius, and any competent Fifth Century Roman historian. Oh, as long as we're doing a wish list... the collection of old Frankish and Gothic lays that Louis the Pius had destroyed when he inherited Charlemagne's library.
  • (4/5)
    This is another book that had been languishing on my shelves for a very long time. I liked the movie ages ago, and one of my best college friends is obsessed with Eco, so I'd bought a few books and have been moving them house to house forever. I'd tried to read this one before, too, but I don't know how many pages of church history and architecture I made it through before I gave up. Have you ever heard anyone say Moby Dick would be a fine book if it weren't for all the damn whaling? Well, I felt this way about this book and church history. But I needed a book for book bingo that was over 500 pages, and this is also on the bookslut 100, so I persevered.

    Of course, like the whaling in Moby Dick, it turns out all the church history was important to the book's plot. I just wish I had more hooks to hang it all on in my brain -- so many factions, so many unfamiliar names. I muddled through. But whatever details I missed, it ended up being a great framework for discussing big moral questions -- poverty and wealth, knowledge and who gets to have it, humility, humor, awe.

    The experience of reading this book was damaged for me by my partial memories of the movie. I remembered part of the final resolution, but only a small part, so the whole way though I was struggling to make that part fit in with the unfolding mystery at the abbey -- the increasing body count, the hidden heretics, the prophecies of end times.

    The more you read of any kind of church history, the more you realize how little of it changes. It must be the human condition. We're always dividing ourselves up and saying we have the true belief and you are infidels. But as much as it is unchanging, I am grateful that we've left some things behind. Like, you know, the Inquisition, and burning people at the stake.

    It was very good. Maybe someday I'll give that other Eco book that's been sitting on my shelves forever a try.
  • (4/5)
    This is as much a historical novel as a mystery novel; as much about philosophical debates within the church as about a series of murders. In short, it's not a simple, easy to read mystery novel. You can read it without caring about the background, and skip the parts about theological debates, but you're missing out on the richness of the novel if you do. Not that it's to everyone's taste -- I can imagine some people being bored stiff by it, because it simply isn't their thing -- but I found it interesting. There are long, long passages of description -- it's very dense. The actual mystery was reasonably easy to follow, though. Somehow I was always one or two steps ahead.Further to the debate about reading by identifying with characters that ended so abruptly, I have to say, I really don't identify with the characters in most crime fiction. Chandler's Phillip Marlowe isn't exactly loveable, for me, and there's no one in Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs that I cared desperately about... Still, in all books with characters, if they're more than card-board cutouts there's something to relate to: some emotion or action, even the smallest things. The love of learning some of the monks have, perhaps, for me.
  • (3/5)
    This was an erudite book about 14th century monks and the investigation of murders in a monastery famous for its library. I learned quite a bit about the period from the theological discussions concerning the poverty of Christ, the heresy of Fra Dolcino, and the debate over whether Christ laughed or not (!), however I felt they were too long and somewhat obtuse. I believe Eco was writing in what he calls "the opera-buffa structure, with long recitatives and elaborate arias," but the arguments were hard to get through as well as the numerous Latin quotations throughout. The abundant political maneuverings of the Abbots, Popes, and Emperors were eye-opening, but what interested me most was the mystery of the murders. I was disappointed that the resolution rested with Jorge's incredulous obsession against comedy.
  • (3/5)
    3* for enjoyment
    5* for quality

    Eco is brilliant, but perhaps too much so for me. He is an amazing philosopher. The central arguments around the political and the theoretical aspects of heresy might be interesting to those who enjoy that type of discourse but for me, it was outside my area of interest. The arguments he makes and biblical references were a lot to absorb, and I had to be in tip-top mental shape during my reading. Although not a long book, plan on spending some time reading each chapter.

    The mystery that is a sideline (I wouldn't call it the central part) of the story, was my favorite part. I enjoyed the deductive reasoning and the Sherlockian feel.

    The Latin throughout was a small hindrance but I could generally get the gist of what was being said. I spent some time looking up the different philosophies and monks in order to get a better understanding of each. I highly recommend this for those who don't have a lot of background in medieval history. It helped to clarify for me the stances that the monks took.

    A small complaint style-wise is in Eco's love of lists, some paragraphs were lines and lines of information which I thought could have been pared down.

    This is a future re-read in order to truly appreciate this incredible work
  • (5/5)
    This is one of my 're-read often' books. The story of Adso and his mentor Brother William as they encounter the nefarious secrets of the abbey they have journeyed to somewhere in the heart of Italy is fantastic. Brother William is the unflappable, Sherlock-like investigator first asked by the Abbot to look into some mysterious deaths and then told to stop when he gets too near the truth. Driven by his hunger for knowledge, William attempts to see beyond the rumours of apocalypse and the presence of the devil to find the true human evil at the heart of the mystery.Following William is his innocent companion, the novice Adso, who tells us this tale of his youth from the perspective of old age. In this tour-de-force by Eco we come across a motley crew of strange characters from the pitable and beastly Salvatore, and the urbane and pompous Abbot Abo to the driven zealot Bernardo Gui (an actualy historical figure painted in somewhat extreme colours by Eco). Woven into the mystery plot and panoply of characters is a dazzling mix of medieval politics and philosophy as the abbey is playing host to a meeting between rival theological factions: the Franciscans who hope to validate their beliefes and way of life in the midst of controversy and their enemies who hope to squash this rival group in its infancy.To me, reading Eco has been an experience of diminishing returns, as each novel he has written seems to have fallen further and further from the heights achieved by this novel until I could not even finish _Baudolino_ due to its unreadability. That being said _The Name of the Rose_ is a classic and I highly encourage any and all to enter into its fascinating world.
  • (3/5)
    I went through a period in my late twenties of reading Big Ol' Books just because they were Big Ol' Books. I worked at the time as a receptionist at a university, in one of the graduate schools/institutes, and as at that time I had not finished college yet was surrounded by MS and PhD candidates, I found it intellectually intimidating. So I think the Big Ol' Books was an act of compensation.

    Truth? I remember what happened in this book mostly because I also saw the movie. I remember my horror at the scenes of torture and boredom at long passages of description of what I can't recall. Mostly, the book felt like a long, long hike through foggy, broken land -- I couldn't see much beyond my little space, a few feet ahead and a few feet behind. I kept going out of sheer determination. I didn't particularly enjoy the trip, but I had to get to the end (I didn't know, at that age, that I could leave a book unfinished without consequence.)

    I have no particular desire to revisit this one. Certainly I never want to read the torture scenes. It's not a period of history for which I have any romantic attachment. I know the book posited some Big Ideas, but they were lost on me. I only recall the dimness, the strange cries over the concealed landscape, the damp air, and not being sure where I was going.
  • (3/5)
    I liked this book, but ultimately it gets too bogged down with historical and linguistic details (the curse of the first-time esoteric academic author I suppose), which is sad because the basic mystery plot is great.

    I highly recommend reading the edition with the postscript by the author where he explains how he came to write a novel, his writing process, and his ideas on authorship and interpretation.