May 21, 2013
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Author: Umberto Eco
First published: 1980
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This book has been stirring my imagination for some time now. I've heard that it's a kind of historical mystery, but the opinions about it were very different, ranging from hate to love. Of course I was interested! And now I can say that I'm completely on the lovers' side!
May the word "mystery" not drive you to the conclusion that it's an easy and relaxing read. It is certainly not. The book if FULL of theological discussions, gospel citations and historical references. Fortunately, my edition had a very good commentary section, and I consulted it all the time, as my historical and ecclesiastical background was definitely not enough to understand anything. But all this created the unique atmosphere of the book, and in the end it all made sense regarding the motives of the murderer.
The setting is fascinating - a rather secluded monastery in the mountains, full of scholars from all over Europe, attracted by the riches of the biggest library of the Christian world. And this library is a very mysterious place. As it is not considered safe for everybody to read anything he might want (and some writings there are very dangerous by the measure of the church), only the librarian has access there and knows the secret of how to find his way in this labyrinth. To scare everybody else away, there are tales of spirits and demons hunting the library at night, and some disobedient monks have encountered them. In this mysterious atmosphere a murder happens.
Two days after Brother William of Baskerville with his apprentice Adson, our narrator, comes to the monastery. He is known for his outstanding deductive abilities (look at his name :) ) and his successful work as an inquisitor in the past. So no surprise he is asked to look into the case by the abbot himself. One corpse, however, does not seem to be enough for the murderer, so soon there are more homicides, and the investigation unveils some very nasty secrets of the monastery.
Even though there are some rather difficult and lengthy passages in the book, overall it is so gripping that I read it through the beginning of my exam session and then through my BF's visit, which doesn't happen that often. But there is actually nothing strange here, as a mystery connected with books and a library, which is also a labyrinth is just a combination of all my favorite things! So for everybody sharing my passion for the mentioned above this book is just a must read!