Review: The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco is an Italian debut novel published in the year 1980, which is a historical murder mystery set in the year 1372. The Name of The Rose is one of the most well-received classics of twentieth-century which was a bestseller upon its release and is one of the most sought after novels by bibliophiles. A subject of constant discussion, The Name of The Rose has inspired one of the most famous Turkish novels of our time called My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 2006. It has, upon its publication, changed the landscape of the genre of murder mystery forever; usually, murder mysteries would be three hundred pages long, yet this novel has a page count of five-hundred and thirty-eight pages. Umberto Eco published his (debut) novel when he was forty-eight years old, and not many debut novels except few can match the sheer mastery and dazzling performance of this novel.

Eco is a legend among Italians, and this book is a testimony to the fact that he is a global literary icon for he explores Christianity, religion, morality and powers of art and genre fiction. Umberto Eco is one of the great postmodernists of his time for the novel has intertextual references to Arabic, Hebrew texts, The Bible, and Aristotle’s Poetics; also, there is a character named Jorge Burgos, who is a man central to the plot. Umberto Eco’s novel is expansive and ambitious yet it is a minimalist novel which centres around an abbey where monks are murdered in a manner which forms an apocalyptic and antichrist pattern. He captures the beauty and sheer horror of the middle ages and makes it relatable to our world; he has a set of amazing characters from different backgrounds such as Severinus, the herbalist; Malachi, the librarian, Adso, the monk and finally, most importantly, William, the classic middle-age sleuth who is assigned to solve the complicated tragedy that has befallen on the saintly abbey.

It is a novel which is a work of the imagination rather than history for Eco says, that he never got much time to research for the novel; but there is something endless about it, something limitless to the space and boundary of this novel because at the centre of this landmark book is a library, endless and vast encompassing millions of books and held secure by the senior members of the abbey so as not to let anyone get access to the library’s collection. Not even William can gain access to this library, but he has to get his way deep into this endless and mystical library to hunt for the murderer. He is not allowed by the senior members which leads to the suspicion that perhaps everybody in the abbey is involved in the conspiracy and politics related to this murder. Many readers consider this novel to be a dense work, but it excels in terms of pace and characterisation, lengthy and dazzling dialogue, atmospheric wit and tension; all these elements testimony and evidence of the writer’s literary mastery and experience.

The dense discussions on religion and middle ages politics are fascinating and informative yet never lose the focus of the novel as many reviews might differ from this point of view, the reader should judge for themselves although every word justifies its presence. If any reader in the world feels that they have lost the love for books or are searching for a productive reason to read books because of so much consumption of depressing and dark literature around us, turn to this novel because it will enrich and ignite once again the dying flame of literature inside you and once again, you will be reminded why you read literary high art fiction in the first place. The Name of The Rose is a book for all bibliophiles in this world for everything in this book is obsessed with the fact how books are about books and how they converse with each other in secret corridors of the library while the reader is simply a spectator who is analysing and spending his life away during his deep contemplation of texts and their endless dialogue through centuries for books speak not only to us but to each other as well; as we not only speak to the universe but with each other; the form of communication and metamorphosis of idea between objects alike working in different ways in different eras and multiple different contexts.

Umberto Eco is the man you should read on a snowy winter evening wrapped up in your blanket because he will take you into a different metaphysical, spiritual and literary world where you would experience the life of a hermit or a saint; for the book is sheerly escapist in nature and a form of spiritual detachment from this world. It is a thrilling experience, yet the reader is rewarded with a penetrative and meditative insight into the world of ideas which are separate from the materialistic existence of this world, the materialistic and deeply troubling problems of this world; in a way, it is a fairy tale for adults and scholars and literary masters of writing.

One cannot help falling in love with this novel because it is absolutely a dazzling performance. A remarkably awesome journey which will pull the rug beneath your feet and the reader will easily lose themselves into this fantastic, erudite and sheerly escapist high art yet at times euphoric novel. When the ending is revealed, I cannot imagine what an impact it might have on the reader. It is one of those few mystery books which has a deeply satisfying and awe-inducing conclusion. The Name of The Rose is utterly a masterpiece of erudition and fantastical escapism because it re-ignites and adds multiple dimensions to the murder mystery genre.

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Rajat KulkarniGaurav KhiplaniPreeti MahajanMohit Shah Recent comment authors
Mohit Shah
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Mohit Shah

In my opinion, the quality of the review, with respect to the earlier ones, could’ve been more.

Preeti Mahajan
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Preeti Mahajan

Always up for a mystery novel! The review reaffirms that this novel should be in my “read” list!

Gaurav Khiplani
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Gaurav Khiplani

Why not have a rating out of ten in all the reviews?

Rajat Kulkarni
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Rajat Kulkarni

A really good attempt at writing a review for this overwhelming novel. A few redundancies could’ve been avoided. Overall, an admirable effort.