'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco

William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library

'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco

Book Review

The Name of the RoseThe Name of the Rose is a modern-day classic and historical fiction by the renowned Italian academician and author Umberto Eco. It is set in the medieval period, in the year 1327 and based on Catholic dogma, strictures on laughter and a theological disputation on the theme of comedy.

A copy of Aristotle’s book on comedy in the collection of the library of a monastery in Northern Italy is cause for controversy and murders. At the monastery for an inquisition, Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his aide-de-camp Adso of Melk lead an investigation into the murder mysteries of the abbey.

This book is a modern classic and a must-read. Eco has masterfully woven together literary themes of crime investigation, semiotics, ancient libraries and library development, theology and poverty.

The theme of poverty is summed up in an episode where a young peasant girl from a village below the monastery trespasses onto the grounds to trade herself for rejected food (pigs are slaughtered for food but their heads thrown away because the monks believe the heads are spiritually unclean) to feed her family. She is falsely accused of witchcraft and condemned to death.