Hi all, I hope you don't mind my joining in. It's been a while since I visited this group and a few years since I read The Name of the Rose. Here is what I thought about it and wrote as a comment for the book on my shelf.
The Name of the Rose killed multiple birds with one hefty stone. The volume is, as Eco states in his preface, "a tale of books" – a compendium of individual books, genres, of book contents, masterfully illuminated and illustrated books, books as art form, and about books as media of preservation and change.
It is a postmodern abundance of texts, text echoes, topics, and genres. To present his story of Brother William of Baskerville, a Sherlock-Holmes-style monk detective, the historian narrator uses the classic pattern of a murder mystery and places it in the dark gothic setting of a medieval abbey. Like Holmes, William of Baskerville has a sidekick, the young Benedictine monk Adson von Melk. The medieval monk detective, like his modern counterpart, uses logic, science, lenses for tracing tracks, occasional drugs, goes from manic spurs of observation to passive contemplation, and - before solving the case and exposing the monk murderer - solves a sample case to prove his capabilities of deduction. Weaving in and out of the book's story are long passages of non-narrative text - scholarly treatises about Franciscans and Rosicrucians, lists, catalogues, and inventories of things like book titles, healing plants, mythical creatures, precious stones and their magical or symbolical qualities, as well as quotations from medieval texts. And, of course, at the center of it all – the book, the novel, and the gothic murder mystery - is the labyrinth of the library. This was a word-heavy, not always easy to take, but utterly gripping book. And like James said, it is the perfect example of a postmodernist novel.
Looking back, I mostly remember the mystery story parts and that it felt like you had to wander through a labyrinth of text to get to it.
posted 1 year ago. ( permalink )