monday book review #1: the name of the rose by umberto eco

the name of the rose | taken using ge a1455

the name of the rose | taken using ge a1455

title: the name of the rose
author: umberto eco
genre: historical novel set in the middle age
source: purchased paperback book
publication: a harcourt book. first harvest international edition 2008
format: paperback with author’s postscript included
i rate this


few years after discovering the manuscript of abbe vallet, the narrator finally wrote, out of ‘pure love of writing’, his italian version of the ‘obscure, neo-gothic french version’ of the latin works written towards the end of the 14th century by an old monk adso of melk.

adso narrated his testimony in parchment about the ‘wondrous and terrible events’ he experienced as a young benedictine novice. he was a scribe and disciple to brother william of baskerville, a franciscan monk and former inquisitor renowned for his acumen. the learned franciscan demonstrated his acumen with the use empirical insights as opposed to the traditional the devil-must-have-done-it conclusion. the manuscript is divided into seven days wherein each day is divided into periods reflecting the canonical hours (matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, nones, vespers, and compline).

the story started with a prologue, where adso gave a historical background of what happened during the end of 1327 at the height of political struggle, religious indifference among men of the church, and the infamous inquisition; where the major players involved emperor louis, pope john xxii, and the friars accused of heresy.

william was sent to the abbey to observe the meeting of two opposing parties – that of pope john xxii who sent his repsentatives headed by the dominican bernard gui and the minorites (their ideals of poverty supported by the emperor, franciscan brothers headed by michael of cesena). and at the same time, he investigated the mysterious death, which was patterned after the book of revelation, that recently perturbed the abbey.

the first death began with the young monk adelmo of otrando, a master illuminator, who was found lying on the cliff below the aedificium. as william investigated these bizarre deaths, he and adso learned the secrets of the library and the sin of flesh. william suspected that a mysterious book was involved. but the abbot warned them that no one is allowed to enter the library except the librarian and his assistant. eventually, they managed to enter the labyrinthine library at night and solved the mystery surrounding it like the herb that produced visions to whoever happened to smell it.

the two parties met and three sad things happened: 1.) they didn’t come up with a resolution to resolve the issue of poverty (franciscan champions the ideals of poverty while the pope is in extravagance), 2.) trial of heresy against brother remigio, and 3.) the death of severinus the herbalist.

on the seventh day, the duo managed to enter the finis africae wherein the man who orchestrated the deaths was awaiting them – the old blind monk jorge of burgos. it was revealed that jorge was protecting the book which contains the writings of aristotle (the second book of his poetics) and interpretation of coena cypriani. jorge doesn’t want the ideas of the philosopher to influence people so he hid the book. and he was the one who spread a poison to the pages of the book. eventually, the library caught fire when jorge and william were struggling to get hold of the book. and so the tragedy ends with the whole abbey burning down.

my thoughts:

the name of the rose is an enjoyable reading experience for me. eco is an intelligent storyteller which reminds me of classical writings (though i haven’t gone passed page 15 of david copperfield. i’m more of a steve berry reader – fast narrative and lasted few hundred pages.). the story was set in the middle age. somehow fiction writers have their own way of portraying events that encyclopedia lacks mentioning of – imagination or what happens to events and people not mentioned in history books. the factual characters would serve as point of reference to establish a sense of time to the narrative existence.



i gave a rate of 5 stars for the name of the rose for the reasons:

1. i’m highly entertained with reading this book. in fact, i kept re-reading it (that it came to a point where i don’t start at the beginning. i just open the book and read at whatever page i happen to be at). at first i struggled with understanding the text because for me the book is laden with many references and didactic passages. i’m a contemporary reader which means, in my definition, i have a short reading span and i have a tendency to skim over long paragraphs. but once i accepted the ‘abbey’s own pace’ (to refer to the author’s postscript on page 520 of the book i own) which means entering the novel’s rhythm; much like letting your friend to narrate his or her recent fascination without interrupting even on his or her wanderings.

2. this novel is written on first person narration. as an aspiring author, i always dreamed of using this type of narration. the name of the rose is not just a mystery novel about tragic deaths, temptation, and the effect of excessive virtue, but there is another story about the discoverer of the abbe vallet book. though it’s abridged. and certainly nothing of great importance to the life of adso but a nice addition.

3. i believe that a story is a type of existence itself. i, as a reader, took a glimpse of the lives of men dedicated to contemplative life in the middle age as written by an author living in contemporary times.

4. a bonus for this book i bought is that it includes a postscript. and eco shows us how he was able to carry out the task of a novelist writing in the middle age. a great resource for writers.


hmmmmm…. there’s this thought i recall. the name of the rose is originally written in italian. so the book i own is an english translation. so i’m thinking… whose work i read? is it umberto eco’s the name of the rose or the translator’s the name of the rose? anyway, i hope you will find enjoyment in reading eco’s novels.


i would like readers to know that this is not a paid book review. and that there are two ways i get reading materials for my blog’s monday book review. i could either purchase the book to be reviewed or obtain an electronic arc (advance reading copy) via netgalley. i do not categorized my self as a professional literary critic/reviewer. however, being a reader and having read the book i reviewed, that and unbiased opinion makes me capable to post reviews. the contents of my reviews are my personal opinion. and the ratings are my personal preference. so feel free to differ to my opinion and voice out your view. my golden rule of reading is summarized by francis bacon: “read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”


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