The Name of the Rose

Paperback | September 28, 1994

byUmberto Eco

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It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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From Our Editors

A reissue of the phenomenal international bestseller. The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Bakersville arrives to investigate. His delicate mission is overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths that take place in the same number of days, and Brother William must turn detecti...

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It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights o...

UMBERTO ECO is the author of five novels and numerous essay collections, including The Name of the Rose, The Prague Cemetery, and Inventing the Enemy. He received Italy's highest literary award, the Premio Strega, was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government, and is an honorary member of the American Academy of...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:552 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.1 inPublished:September 28, 1994Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156001314

ISBN - 13:9780156001311

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Customer Reviews of The Name of the Rose

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Thriller A True Classic 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 a labyrinth, 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.
Date published: 2013-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date published: 2005-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an exhilarating novel! Rarely does one find a novel written in such careful detail. Eco lays out the groundwork by building upon a historical foundation, then ensuring that the reader is always kept in the dark as to where to story might possibly lead and finally delivers a fascinating and surprising denouement. 5 out of 5. Bravo!
Date published: 2000-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Real Page Turner If you love murder-mysteries...take a look at this book. Eco does a remarkable job at keeping the reader in suspense throughout the entire novel. The reader has NO clue who is behind the crimes and has NO clue to the real motive. I bet you cannot guess who did it? With excellent theme and characters the reader can easily flow with the events. Great Book!!
Date published: 2000-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great mystery with deep thought provocations Indeed, Eco's first novel is a great one. But I find that the descriptions tend to drown out the book sometimes. But the mystery and religious outcommings are extremely intriguing. Great novel, if you have time for 500 pages.
Date published: 2000-03-09

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Read from the Book

PROLOGUE In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was beginning with God and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the one never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals even when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil.   Having reached the end of my poor sinner's life, my hair now white, I grow old as the world does, waiting to be lost in the bottomless pit of silent and deserted divinity, sharing in the light of angelic intelligences; confined now with my heavy, ailing body in this cell in the dear monastery of Melk, I prepare to leave on this parchment my testimony as to the wondrous and terrible events that I happened to observe in my youth, now repeating all that I saw and heard, without venturing to seek a design, as if to leave to those who will come after (if the Antichrist has not come first) signs of signs, so that the prayer of deciphering may be exercised on them.   May the Lord grant me the grace to be the transparent witness of the occurrences that took place in the abbey whose name it is only right and pious now to omit, toward the end of the year of our Lord 1327, when the Emperor Louis came down into Italy to restore the dignity of the Holy Roman Empire, in keeping with the designs of the Almighty and to the confusion of the wicked usurper, simoniac, and heresiarch who in Avignon brought shame on the holy name of the apostle (I refer to the sinful soul of Jacques of Cahors, whom the impious revered as John XXII).   Perhaps, to make more comprehensible the events in which I found myself involved, I should recall what was happening in those last years of the century, as I understood it then, living through it, and as I remember it now, complemented by other stories I heard afterward?-?if my memory still proves capable of connecting the threads of happenings so many and confused.   In the early years of that century Pope Clement V had moved the apostolic seat to Avignon, leaving Rome prey to the ambitions of the local overlords: and gradually the holy city of Christianity had been transformed into a circus, or into a brothel, riven by the struggles among its leaders; though called a republic, it was not one, and it was assailed by armed bands, subjected to violence and looting. Ecclesiastics, eluding secular jurisdiction, commanded groups of malefactors and robbed, sword in hand, transgressing and organizing evil commerce. How was it possible to prevent the Caput Mundi from becoming again, and rightly, the goal of the man who wanted to assume the crown of the Holy Roman Empire and restore the dignity of that temporal dominion that had belonged to the Caesars?   Thus in 1314 five German princes in Frankfurt elected Louis the Bavarian supreme ruler of the empire. But that same day, on the opposite shore of the Main, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, and the Archbishop of Cologne elected Frederick of Austria to the same high rank. Two emperors for a single throne and a single pope for two: a situation that, truly, fomented great disorder. . .   Two years later, in Avignon, the new Pope was elected, Jacques of Cahors, an old man of seventy-two who took, as I have said, the name of John XXII , and heaven grant that no pontiff take again a name now so distasteful to the righteous. A Frenchman, devoted to the King of France (the men of that corrupt land are always inclined to foster the interests of their own people, and are unable to look upon the whole world as their spiritual home), he had supported Philip the Fair against the Knights Templars, whom the King accused (I believe unjustly) of the most shameful crimes so that he could seize their possessions with the complicity of that renegade ecclesiastic.   In 1322 Louis the Bavarian defeated his rival Frederick. Fearing a single emperor even more than he had feared two, John excommunicated the victor, who in return denounced the Pope as a heretic. I must also recall how, that very year, the chapter of the Franciscans was convened in Perugia, and the minister general, Michael of Cesena, accepting the entreaties of the Spirituals (of whom I will have occasion to speak), proclaimed as a matter of faith and doctrine the poverty of Christ, who, if he owned something with his apostles, possessed it only as usus facti. A worthy resolution, meant to safeguard the virtue and purity of the order, it highly displeased the Pope, who perhaps discerned in it a principle that would jeopardize the very claims that he, as head of the church, had made, denying the empire the right to elect bishops, and asserting on the contrary that the papal throne had the right to invest the emperor. Moved by these or other reasons, John condemned the Franciscan propositions in 1323 with the decretal Cum inter nonnullos.   It was at this point, I imagine, that Louis saw the Franciscans, now the Pope's enemies, as his potential allies. By affirming the poverty of Christ, they were somehow strengthening the ideas of the imperial theologians, namely Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun. And finally, not many months before the events I am narrating, Louis came to an agreement with the defeated Frederick, descended into Italy, and was crowned in Milan.   This was the situation when I?-?a young Benedictine novice in the monastery of Melk?-?was removed from the peace of the cloister by my father, fighting in Louis's train, not least among his barons. He thought it wise to take me with him so that I might know the wonders of Italy and be present when the Emperor was crowned in Rome. But the siege of Pisa then absorbed him in military concerns. Left to myself, I roamed among the cities of Tuscany, partly out of idleness and partly out of a desire to learn. But this undisciplined freedom, my parents thought, was not suitable for an adolescent devoted to a contemplative life. And on the advice of Marsilius, who had taken a liking to me, they decided to place me under the direction of a learned Franciscan, Brother William of Baskerville, about to undertake a mission that would lead him to famous cities and ancientabbeys. Thus I became William's scribe and disciple at the same time, nor did I ever regret it, because with him I was witness to events worthy of being handed down, as I am now doing, to those who will come after us. I did not then know what Brother William was seeking, and to tell the truth, I still do not know today, and I presume he himself did not know, moved as he was solely by the desire for truth, and by the suspicion?-?which I could see he always harbored?-?that the truth was not what was appearing to him at that moment. And perhaps during those years he had been distracted from his beloved studies by secular duties. The mission with which William had been charged remained unknown to me while we were on our journey, or, rather, he never spoke to me about it. It was only by overhearing bits of his conversations with the abbots of the monasteries where we stopped along the way that I formed some idea of the nature of this assignment. But I did not understand it fully until we reached our destination.   Our destination was to the north, but our journey did not follow a straight line, and we rested at various abbeys. Thus it happened that we turned westward (though we ought to have been going east), almost following the line of mountains that from Pisa leads in the direction of the pilgrim's way to Santiago, pausing in a place which, due to what occurred there, it is better that I do not name, but whose lords were liege to the empire, and where the abbots of our order, all in agreement, opposed the heretical, corrupt Pope. Our journey lasted two weeks, amid various vicissitudes, and during that time I had the opportunity to know (never enough, I remain convinced) my new master.

From Our Editors

A reissue of the phenomenal international bestseller. The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Bakersville arrives to investigate. His delicate mission is overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths that take place in the same number of days, and Brother William must turn detective to sort things out