The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco

the name of the roseThis story was set in the year 1327. When King Edward III acceded to the English throne in the year January 25, and on February 1st became King of England. It is the first novel of an Italian murder, which means that the setting is in an Italian Monastery. The two main characters had visited the monastery. The story was narrated by Adso, the helper of the main character, Brother William. The story was mostly about him.

On the trip in the monastery, suddenly, somebody got murdered, leaving the whole Monastery shaken with fear. William accepted the Abbot’s request to help find the murder. So on was the quest, William started talking to many people to search for clues. He interviewed the herbalist to find out which herb killed. Meanwhile, Adso just watched, and learned.

The story got even more and more confusing, as more people died. William noticed that three of their fingers were stained with black, and their tongue was black too. They were also found in random places, like death in the bathtub. And their corpses mostly found in water, looked recent, confusing the ‘detective’ even more, and frustrating him.

The story started to get creepy. Whoever killed those poor people could be anybody, which frustrate William. As he continued his hunt to try and find out, he interviewed his suspect, and met another dead end. The secret could be in the library. This was where the story got complicated, as William tried to solve the mystery of the library. The library was described as an immense and confusing building with numerous interconnected passages; anyone entering this “great labyrinth” can easily get lost in its almost identical rooms. Just as Adso and William have only an incomplete and puzzling image of the library while they move inside it, I think the library is the symbol of the imperfect and confusing view of the world.

Eco constantly reminded me that the lines differentiating two things are often almost difficult to see, therefore they were always open to be interpretated. Two things that seems opposite to one another may represent two sides of the same coin. The books were in the library were not only about wisdom; according to Abbot, there were books of lies. I love this quote: “Even in the books of falsehood, to the eyes of the sage reader, a pale reflection of the divine wisdom can shine”. There was the Bible in the library, as well as the Koran. For some people, the source of  ultimate truth and wisdom was the Bible, for others, it was Koran.

Later, the fine line between two opposite things was further repeated thru many episodes. I like the episode when the herbalist warned William that the fine line between poison and medicine were so difficult to tell. Also, William found out that “hell is heaven seen form the other side”. The fact that one can see the thing differently could lead to conflict between two opposing views.

Adso had fallen in love with a woman, when he was not supposed to. He was devastated when that women was finally killed, or suspicion of the murders. As the story progressed, William noticed that the victims must had some kind of knowledge that would make them the next victim, leaving William trying to find out who would be next on the kill list.

Umberto Eco was an Italian. Who was best known for his novel The Name of the Rose. He also had written many academic texts, and many children books, and many essays. He was born on 5th January 1932, and is still alive today. he was most interested in semiotics, the study of meaning making, the philosophy of signs and symbols.

With its old and monastery like setting, this story was a very interesting crime novel, and I would highly recommend anyone to read it. It is difficult to read, but like Umberto Eco always suggesting that two different things are indistinguishable: “what I suffered that morning was evil for me, but for others perhaps was good, the sweetest of good things”; therefore, I say, it’s also an enjoyable book to taste.


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