Review of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose - Umberto EcoThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Paperback: 552 pages
Publisher: Harvest Books; 1st edition (Sept. 28, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0156001314

The Name of the Rose is a book I read several years back and one I wanted to revisit here on my blog. This historical fiction novel set in medieval Europe is not for those looking for a quick read, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading it, you’ll understand why. The writing is theological and academic in nature throughout certain parts of the book, and at times, I became bogged down in the minute details covered by Eco. The author wonderfully re-creates this period of medieval history, a time when the Catholic Church in Rome was battling heretical sects throughout Europe and doing everything in its power to make sure they did not surface again. It is in this setting that Eco drops the reader, a backdrop to the actual story of a murder mystery placed in an Italian monastery in the 14th century.

The main characters are William of Baskerville, a brilliant scholar and former inquisitor, and his assistant Adso, through whose eyes the story is told. The abbot of the monastery has summoned William to make sense of recent events that have occurred within the abbey’s walls. As they conduct their investigation, they uncover layer after layer of secrets protected by the monks living there, secrets that lead to betrayal and murder, and an even greater secret that lies within the abbey’s library.

You will truly learn a lot from this novel and even feel smarter after you’ve read it — though probably not comprehending everything the first time, as you’ll find yourself going back and re-reading certain passages. You will learn about the political and religious struggles among the Holy Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, and “heretical” religious sects. You will experience life inside a medieval monastery, understanding how they lived and and how their community functioned. You will be transported through Eco’s writing to a time and place abounding with theological debate and religious fervor, a time of great change and upheaval in the traditional thought of medieval European society.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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My life has been pretty simple. I grew up in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's in Advertising. I have spent about the last ten years in web development. In 1998, a friend of mine and I started a web design company we ran for three or four years before deciding to close it due to the demands of school. Since then, I stayed in the web working with various companies in Alabama. I worked for a brief period with Southern Progress, namely with Southern Living magazine and Health magazine, in their web departments. While there, I also wrote for Southern Living magazine,, and the company's internal newsletter. I write as much as I can. For the last five years, I have been working on my first novel. I am on the third revision now and hope to be finished with this draft by the end of the year. I also write short fiction, though not as frequently as I used to due to the time I spend on the novel. My goal is to have my novel published in the next three years. Other interests include: History (particularly medieval and ancient civlizations), Reading, Foreign Language (I currently speak Spanish but plan to learn as many as I can), Landscape Photography, the outdoors, sports (especially college football), and Travel.

2 thoughts on “Review of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco”

  1. I read that book last year. It was utterly fascinating. I really enjoyed it, even though it was so long and complex! One thing I think is really interesting about it is that it’s not fantasy, but it’s very close to fantasy, enough to appeal to any fantasy fan.

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