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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition !
Umberto Eco is internationally renowned as an author, a philosopher, a literary critic and a historian. He is also a professor of Semiotics at the University of Bologna and lives in Milan. "The Name of the Rose", his debut novel, was first published in Italy in 1980 and became a bestseller throughout the world. It was also adapted for the big screen in 1986, a version...
Published on Feb. 28 2007 by Craobh Rua

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Books in One
Interesting murder mystery; boring and obscure book on philosophy. Clearly Eco is a brilliant guy, but not every brilliant guy makes a great novelist. None of the characters really comes off the page. William is nicely complex, and Bernard Gui is an interesting villian, but the convoluted plot is hard to follow and some of the incidents and characters eventually become...
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Luis M. Luque


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition !, Feb. 28 2007
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
Umberto Eco is internationally renowned as an author, a philosopher, a literary critic and a historian. He is also a professor of Semiotics at the University of Bologna and lives in Milan. "The Name of the Rose", his debut novel, was first published in Italy in 1980 and became a bestseller throughout the world. It was also adapted for the big screen in 1986, a version that starred Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

"The Name of the Rose" is set in the fourteenth century and is told by Adso of Melk - an aged Benedictine Abbot looking back to a journey he took as a novice. Adso's father was a German nobleman loyal to Louis the Bavarian and arranged for the young Adso to travel with him to Italy - there, he hoped to see Louis crowned Holy Roman Emperor. However, with his father's time subsequently taken up with the Siege of Pisa, Adso was placed in the care of William of Baskerville - not only a shrewd, learned and wise Franciscan, but also a former Inquisitor. Together, the pair travel to a Benedictine abbey in the northern Italian mountains.

The arena in which William and Adso operate is at least as political as it is religious. There are great differences of opinion between the orders on a number of topics - the most relevant to the story involves a difference in opinion about poverty between the Franciscan Order and the Pope. Since the Pope and the Emperor don't see eye-to-eye either, Louis has obviously sided with the Franciscans. The Order's Head, Michael of Cesena, has been summoned several times to Avignon - where the Papal Court was held at the time - officially to deal conclusively with the matter. However, since many suspect this would actually involve Michael being charged with heresy, the Emperor feels it best if Michael travels as part of an official Imperial delegation. As the whole matter is proving increasingly difficult to deal with, a preliminary meeting has been arranged to lay out the opposing points of view. William has been appointed the Emperor's representative, and the meeting is taking place at the abbey to which he and Adso are travelling.

As it happens, the pair are given much more to think about than just the meeting. Not long before William and Adso arrived, one of the abbey's most skilled illuminators - Adelmo of Otranto - had been found dead at the foot of some cliffs beneath the abbey. The Abbot suspects the young monk was murdered, and asks William to investigate. Things are not made entirely easy for the pair : although Adelmo may have been pushed to his death from the upper floor of the library, they are forbidden from entering that area. Nevertheless, with the meeting imminent, they know it's vital to have everything cleared up as soon as possible - preferably with out any more deaths...

This is a hugely enjoyable book - the only real flaw is that it's occasionally a little over-descriptive. However, it makes a nice change to read a murder-mystery than relies solely on the skills of the investigator - particularly one as likeable as William - without any help from forensics, fingerprinting or DNA sampling. The 'back-story', relating to the meeting, added a nice political spin to things. It also added a certain amount of panic for some of the characters, as the Pope's representative is also a practising Inquisitor . Very highly recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a status symbol, March 24 2006
By 
Andrea (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
I am confused by those who wrote that people only say they read this book because they want to sound smart. I hate to break it to you, but this book is actually good and enjoyable, and I hope you will try again.
This book is for people who love mysteries, but are frustrated at how fast they are read. Christies go in a day, as does Da Vinci Code, whereas this one has more to chew and the mystery doesn't insult your intelligence like the "Da Vinci Code" (e.g., reminding you that Da Vinci is Italian, that Paris is indeed in France, etc.).
I mean, I don't get daunted by long books anymore because I like the act of reading itself, and having a long book means not having to look for another for awhile.
Another thing: I took a course on heresy in college, and many of conclusions that can be drawn from this book are right on. The more he discusses the distinctions between the different sects, the less the distinction can be made between holy orders and heretical sects. He really brings you through the whole argument, from different characters' perspectives, so you get the whole picture.
I also learned more about the Middle Ages from this book, about how rich their lives were even then, albeit with different information, theories, heroes, etc., than we are used to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Thriller A True Classic, July 28 2013
By 
Ian Robertson (West Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
One of the pleasures of reading is discovering literature that delights, edifies, spellbinds and generally exceeds all expectations. A second, related (and equally hit-and-miss) pleasure is re-reading these books decades later to see how they've stood the test of time: a dated flash in the pan; or a true classic. Umberto Eco's debut novel - lauded at the time with a couple of literary awards - is in the latter camp. An exceptional work in all respects.

The book starts with a note by an unnamed publisher about how the manuscript of an elderly monk named Adso - the story we will soon read - came to light more than 600 years after its writing. This is followed by Adso's own prologue, which provides political and religious context of the time - an event in his youth in 1327 - and an introduction to his then master, William, a senior monk to whom he is apprenticed and who is travelling to an unnamed abbey in northwestern Italy for reasons unknown.

The story, broken into seven days' events, begins with Adso and William's arrival and the abbot's request of William - apparently known for his pensive power and sleuthing skills - to examine some strange occurrences in the abbey that would be better solved and remedied than made public. So far, a leisurely beginning of esoteric facts, oblique philosophical dialogue, and little action, but one which builds steadily and constantly in pace and complexity to a fast paced conclusion.

Early narrative background and philosophical discussions between characters later become central to the plot, to the novel's themes, to the motivation of characters, and ultimately to the broader questions that Eco leaves us pondering: the nature of good and evil; the nature of belief, worship, religion, and god; and the nature of man. Dialogue and narrative that seem to have little bearing on advancement of the plot - seeming just to enhance the sense of place and time or even philosophical digressions - end up later as important threads in the increasingly complex writing. Like a tightly worded short story, Eco leaves no loose ends and employs no filler. At the conclusion all we can do is enjoy the mystery's conclusion, marvel at intricacies that Eco has managed to weave into it, and reflect on the questions raised.

Eco also has some fun along the way, taking half a page to describe a pair of eyeglasses, quoting Shakespeare ('It's Greek to me') 400 years before his birth, and using the same language to describe the death of a martyr and the narrator's first sexual experience. Fittingly for a labyrinthine plot mixing fact and fiction, and featuring a library and actual Labyrinths, Eco pays direct homage to Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian master of complex, convoluted fiction, with a namesake character. As Eco writes, "to know what one book says you must read others."

Unlike many writers of historical fiction, who research a topic and then weave together a plot using their newfound knowledge, Eco starts with a lifetime of knowledge of his subject - he is a professor of semiotics and a noted historian and philosopher - and conjures up a fantastical, tightly worded mystery that's far richer and erudite than the popular fiction writers could hope for. While the story will entertain those seeking just a rollicking story, their time would be better spent with authors such as Clavell, Michener, Follett, Brown.

The Name of the Rose is a richly rewarding modern day classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Eco's best novels, Jan. 15 2012
By 
OpenMind "R Granger" (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
Umberto Eco doesn't just tell a story; this much is obvious from all of his novels, not the least of which is The Name of the Rose. He has crafted a wonderfully intriguing medieval murder mystery (at heart) and fleshed it out with splendid characters (especially the protagonist, who must rely on good ol'-fashioned detective work to crack the case), a well-realized backdrop of history and location, and incorporated cyptology and theology for good measure. Smart without being overwhelming, taut without being heavy-handed, historical without being boring, The Name of the Rose is not just one of Eco's best books, but one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever had.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tedious but worth reading, May 13 2004
By 
Matthew Krichman (Durango, CO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
Though at times painfully tedious in its detail of 14th century Catholic theology and annoyingly esoteric in its numerous passages in Latin, I feel I must give this book a positive recommendation. Its grand scope of chronicling such an obscure period, its depth of research, and its feeling of authenticity give this book the right to be considered an epic of modern fiction. As far as mysteries go, this one certainly is not the most intriguing. It drags at times, and the final revelations are neither startling nor intricate in their conception. But as a period piece, this is a 500-pound gorilla. It's amazing to think of the amount of scholarly research that went into the making of this novel. How many hours did Eco have to spend studying the writings of Aristotle, Aquinas, and who knows how many Franciscan and Benedictine theologians?
I have to admit I came close to putting this book down after 100 pages. I'm glad I didn't, though it was a struggle the whole way through. There were a few too many characters, and at times I couldn't keep track of all the different monks, but fortunately they start to get killed off pretty quickly so there are fewer to remember.
The underlying theme is an important one to me. The book explores the medieval notion that religious faith and intellectual pursuits should be mutually exclusive. Imagine living your life as a monk, working in a library surrounded by thousands of scholarly works, and spending your days copying texts that you don't understand. The preservation of knowledge is a noble goal, but so is the advancement of our understanding of the universe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And you thought nothing happened in the Middle Ages!, July 2 2004
By 
Jorge F. M "Jorge Flores" (Naucalpan Mexico) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
I read this book for the first time in college, for an Art History class. I devoured it in a week, completely caught by it, and thought I would end up reading it again sometime. I just did.
The story takes place during one week in November 1327, in a benedictine abbey of Northern Italy. It is to this place that a Franciscan friar, William of Baskerville, and his young disciple Adso of Melk, arrive. Baskerville is here to lay the groundwork for a controversial meeting between pope John XXII's people and the head of the Franciscan order, Michele of Cesena. But as soon as William and Adso arrive a monk shows up dead. And others start joining him in heaven as days go by...
The name of the rose is dense at times, and it seems that Eco wrote certain chapters, (i.e. first day "where Adso admires the church's façade"), as a filter to discard impatient readers and keep the "good" ones. Don't despair, keep reading, and you won't regret it.
Finally, this novel combines real and fictitious characters. If. after reading the book, you feel curious about some of the actual people and events, check out the website "newadvent.org/cathen", a catholic encyclopedia. ( At least, I found it a useful reference).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "For it is a tale of books, not of everyday worries", June 26 2004
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
The Name of the Rose has gained such a reputation for its detail and erudition that its finest attribute too often goes unmentioned: for the lover of books and ideas, philosophy and history, this book is fun. If you are intrigued by the idea of being immersed in a 14th century monastery, solving a murder mystery, and pondering questions about language, knowledge, and meaning along the way, then you will likely enjoy this book. If you aren't, you won't.
Yes, there are some obscure references (or, I should say, I noticed a few obscure references and have good reason to believe there are many more I did not notice) and, yes, there is some untranslated Latin. If the rest of the book interests you, these matters at the very least will not much hinder you; they will probably make the book that much better to reread. Mr. Eco approvingly quotes John Barth in the postscript: "My own analogy [in describing his "ideal postmodern author"] would be with good jazz or classical music: one finds much on successive listenings or close examination of the score that one didn't catch the first time through; but the first time through should be so ravishing--and not just to specialists--that one delights in the replay." With The Name of the Rose, Eco lives up to this criterion.
Intelligent books (or books perceived intelligent) tend to attract flatterers--people who fancy themselves clever for having read and praised a good book--and their inverse--people who fancy themselves clever for dispraising a book that flatterers praise. The Name of the Rose has attracted such chatter, and this is a shame--it is too good a book to simply be "gotten through." It is difficult in the sense that it is rich and worth thinking about; it is only as hard a read as the head that reads it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling., Dec 1 2003
By 
Kimberly J. Essenburg "Kimberlaina" (Michigan, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
I knew nothing of this book when I opened it; I had picked it up literally because I needed something to read and I liked the cover. It completely blew away my expectations. Eco does a stunning job of depicting daily life in the past, even daily life gone awry. This book takes you back in time into the world of the monks, a world that is incredibly deep, lush, and detailed. The characters and the motifs give this plot great flavor; they are all well-developed. Eco narrates with the confidence of an eyewitness observer and clearly knows what he is talking about. Yes, the book is a challenging read, one which will be time consuming. If you're looking for something light and quick, this isn't it. Even so, a lack of knowledge of history or Latin or religion will not keep you from enjoying this book; while I was reading it, the characters themselves taught me about their world. Try to view those background-knowledge challenges as something that makes this book good enough to read twice, and enjoy it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Rose By Any Other Name..., July 8 2009
By 
D Glover (northern bc, canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
No doubt many in our culture of break-neck pace forensics detective shows that always reach resolution in one hour will find this book too slow to get past the first chapter. But if you appreciate detectives who solve mysteries with a combination of common sense, razor sharp reason, keen observation, the occasional hunch, all sprinkled with appropriate wit (think Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown), this is a jolly good read.

Packed with multi-layered and detailed back stories (discussion of 14th century intramural Roman Catholic theological and ethical debate, for one) and brimming with a dark, moodiness, Eco draws the reader right in to life inside this cold, dark and mysterious monastery. Both believable and unforgettable characters, scenes and conflicts fill this book. Eco does a masterful job of making both the labyrinthine library as well as a one-off lost manuscript into pivotal characters in their own right along with the many human actors. The main protagonist, William of Baskerville, is an interesting character whose sense of truth and morality often makes him more at home in postmodernism than the medieval world which he inhabits.

If you are looking for a triumphant or at least tidy resolution to this mystery, you will be disappointed. In true postmodern fashion, ultimately the detective fails to figure out the final piece to the mystery, to save the last victim, or to apprehend the killer. However, this too is part of the dark lure of this book. It is a study in postmodernism and the importance of language and symbols (can they be trusted to communicate intended meaning objectively or are they open to the interpretation of the beholder, thus changing meaning?)...but this is also just a really good yarn. Best read at night in winter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery Meets History, Sept. 7 2008
By 
This review is from: The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
If you're into medieval times, murder and mystery then look no further. This book is hard to put down. I recommend it for a nice cool dark and windy fall day. Book starts well and only gets better. I suggest purchasing the Key to the Name of the Rose as well because it translates many of the Latin phrases which are peppered throughout the novel.
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The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Paperback - Feb. 1 2001)
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