The Name of the Rose
Overview
 
The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

. It is a historical
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

 murder mystery set in an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. First published in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 in 1980 under the title Il nome della rosa, it appeared in English in 1983, translated by William Weaver
William Weaver
William Fense Weaver is an English language translator of modern Italian literature.-Biography:William Weaver is perhaps best known for his translations of the work of Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, and has translated many other Italian authors over the course of a career spanning more than fifty...

.
Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

 William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

 and a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 novice Adso of Melk travel to a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 monastery in Northern Italy to attend a theological disputation
Disputation
In the scholastic system of education of the Middle Ages, disputations offered a formalized method of debate designed to uncover and establish truths in theology and in sciences...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Name of the Rose is the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

. It is a historical
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

 murder mystery set in an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 in the year 1327, an intellectual mystery combining semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. First published in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 in 1980 under the title Il nome della rosa, it appeared in English in 1983, translated by William Weaver
William Weaver
William Fense Weaver is an English language translator of modern Italian literature.-Biography:William Weaver is perhaps best known for his translations of the work of Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, and has translated many other Italian authors over the course of a career spanning more than fifty...

.

Plot summary

Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

 William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville
William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

 and a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 novice Adso of Melk travel to a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 monastery in Northern Italy to attend a theological disputation
Disputation
In the scholastic system of education of the Middle Ages, disputations offered a formalized method of debate designed to uncover and establish truths in theology and in sciences...

. As they arrive, the monastery is disturbed by a suicide. As the story unfolds, several other monks die under mysterious circumstances. William is tasked by the Abbot of the monastery to investigate the deaths as fresh clues with each murder victim lead William to dead ends and new clues. The protagonists explore a labyrinthine medieval library, discuss the subversive power of laughter, and come face to face with the Inquisition
Medieval Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition and later the Papal Inquisition...

. William's innate curiosity and highly-developed powers of logic and deduction provide the keys to unravelling the mysteries of the abbey.

Analysis

On one level, the book is an exposition of the scholastic method
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 which was very popular in the 14th century. William demonstrates the power of deductive reasoning
Deductive reasoning
Deductive reasoning, also called deductive logic, is reasoning which constructs or evaluates deductive arguments. Deductive arguments are attempts to show that a conclusion necessarily follows from a set of premises or hypothesis...

, especially syllogism
Syllogism
A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition is inferred from two or more others of a certain form...

s. He refuses to accept the diagnosis of "simple demonic possession" despite demonology
Demonology
Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. It is the branch of theology relating to superhuman beings who are not gods. It deals both with benevolent beings that have no circle of worshippers or so limited a circle as to be below the rank of gods, and with malevolent...

 being the traditional monastic explanation. Although the abbey is under the apprehension that they are experiencing the last days before the coming of Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

 (a topic closely examined in the book), William, through his empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 mindset, manages to show that the murders are, in fact, committed by a more corporeal instrument. By keeping an open mind, collecting facts and observations, following pure intuition, and the dialectic
Dialectic
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues...

 method, he makes decisions as to what he should investigate, exactly as a scholastic would do. However, the simple use of reason does not suffice. The various signs and happenings only have meaning in their given contexts, and William must constantly be wary of the contexts within which he interprets the mystery. Indeed, the entire story challenges the narrator, William's young apprentice Adso, and the reader to continually recognize the context he is using to interpret, bringing the whole text to various levels which can all have different hermeneutical meanings. The narrative ties in many varied plot lines, all of which consider various interpretations and sources of meanings. Many of the interpretations and sources were highly volatile controversies in the medieval religious setting, all while spiraling towards what seems to be the key to understanding and truly interpreting the case. Although William's final hypotheses do not exactly match the actual events as written, those theories do allow him to solve the abbey's mystery.

Characters

Primary characters:
  • William of Baskerville
    William of Baskerville
    William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

    —main protagonist, a Franciscan friar
  • Adso of Melk
    Melk
    Melk is a city of Austria, in the federal state of Lower Austria, next to the Wachau valley along the Danube. Melk has a population of 5,222 ....

    —narrator, Benedictine
    Benedictine
    Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

     novice accompanying William


At the monastery:
  • Abo of Fossanova—the abbot of the Benedictine monastery, the sixth to die
  • Ubertino of Casale
    Ubertino of Casale
    Ubertino of Casale was an Italian Franciscan and one of the leaders of the stricter branch of the Franciscan Christian order. For some time he was a chaplain of the cardinal Orsini....

    —Franciscan friar in exile, friend of William
  • Severinus of Sankt Wendel
    Sankt Wendel
    St. Wendel is a municipality in northeastern Saarland. It is situated on the river Blies 36 km northeast of Saarbrücken, the capital of Saarland, and is named after Saint Wendelin of Trier.- Geography :...

    —herbalist who helps William, the fourth to die
  • Malachi of Hildesheim
    Hildesheim
    Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

    —librarian, the fifth to die
  • Berengar of Arundel
    Arundel
    Arundel is a market town and civil parish in the South Downs of West Sussex in the south of England. It lies south southwest of London, west of Brighton, and east of the county town of Chichester. Other nearby towns include Worthing east southeast, Littlehampton to the south and Bognor Regis to...

    —assistant librarian, in love with Adelmo, the third to die
  • Adelmo of Otranto
    Otranto
    Otranto is a town and comune in the province of Lecce , in a fertile region once famous for its breed of horses.It is located on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto, to which the city gives its name, connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and Italy with Albania...

    —illuminator, novice, the first to die
  • Venantius of Salvemec—translator of manuscripts, the second to die
  • Benno of Uppsala
    Uppsala
    - Economy :Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.*Abbott Medical Optics *GE Healthcare*Pfizer *Phadia, an offshoot of Pharmacia*Fresenius*Q-Med...

    —student of rhetoric
  • Alinardo of Grottaferrata
    Grottaferrata
    Grottaferrata, Italy is a small town and comune in the province of Rome, situated on the lower slopes of the Alban Hills, 20 km south east of Rome. It is bounded by other communes, Frascati, Rocca di Papa, Marino, and Rome.-History:...

    —eldest monk
  • Jorge of Burgos
    Burgos
    Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

    —elderly blind monk, former librarian, the seventh to die
  • Remigio of Varagine
    Varazze
    Varazze is a comune in the Province of Savona in the Italian region Liguria, located about 30 km west of Genoa and about 11 km northeast of Savona in the Riviera di Ponente...

    —cellarer
  • Salvatore of Montferrat
    Montferrat
    Montferrat is part of the region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. It comprises roughly the modern provinces of Alessandria and Asti. Montferrat is one of the most important wine districts of Italy...

    —monk, associate of Remigio
  • Nicholas of Morimondo
    Morimondo
    Morimondo is a comune in the Province of Milan in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 20 km southwest of Milan.-External links:*...

    —glazier
  • Aymaro of Alessandria
    Alessandria
    -Monuments:* The Citadel * The church of Santa Maria di Castello * The church of Santa Maria del Carmine * Palazzo Ghilini * Università del Piemonte Orientale-Museums:* The Marengo Battle Museum...

    —gossipy, sneering monk
  • Pacificus of Tivoli
    Tivoli, Italy
    Tivoli , the classical Tibur, is an ancient Italian town in Lazio, about 30 km east-north-east of Rome, at the falls of the Aniene river where it issues from the Sabine hills...

  • Waldo of Hereford
    Hereford
    Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

  • Magnus of Iona
    Iona
    Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

  • Patrick of Clonmacnois
  • Rabano of Toledo
    Toledo, Spain
    Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...



Outsiders:
  • Michael of Cesena
    Michael of Cesena
    Michael of Cesena was an Italian Franciscan, general of that Order, and theologian.-Biography:...

    —leader of Spiritual Franciscans
  • Bernardo Gui
    Bernard Gui
    Bernard Gui , also known as Bernardo Gui or Bernardus Guidonis, was an inquisitor of the Dominican Order in the Late Middle Ages during the Medieval Inquisition, Bishop of Lodève, and one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages...

    —Inquisitor
  • Bertrand del Poggetto—Cardinal and leader of the Papal legation
  • Peasant girl from the village below the monastery

Major themes

Eco, being a semiotician
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, is hailed by semiotics students who like to use his novel to explain their discipline. The techniques of telling stories within stories, partial fictionalization, and purposeful linguistic ambiguity are prominent in Eco's narrative style. The solution to the central murder mystery hinges on the contents of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's book on Comedy, of which no copy survives; Eco nevertheless plausibly describes it and has his characters react to it appropriately in their medieval setting - which, though realistically described, is partly based on Eco's scholarly guesses and imagination. It is virtually impossible to untangle fact / history from fiction / conjecture in the novel. Through the motive of this lost and possibly suppressed book which might have aestheticized the farcical, the unheroic and the skeptical, Eco also makes an ironically slanted plea for tolerance and against dogmatic or self-sufficient metaphysical truths - an angle which reaches the surface in the final chapters.

However, there is an alternative and more plausible explanation - the extremely ingenious solution was taken by Eco from "The Arabian Nights" - the story of "The Vizier Who Was Punished" is based exactly on the same theme.

Umberto Eco is a significant postmodernist theorist and The Name of the Rose is a postmodern novel. For example he says in the novel "books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told." This refers to a postmodern ideal that all texts perpetually refer to other texts, rather than external reality. In true postmodern style, the novel ends with uncertainty: "very little is discovered and the detective is defeated" (postscript). William of Baskerville solves the mystery in part by mistake; he thought there was a pattern but it in fact, numerous "patterns" were involved and combined with haphazard mistakes by the killers. William concludes in fatigue that there "was no pattern". Thus Eco has turned the modernist quest for finality, certainty and meaning on its head leaving the overall plot partly the result of accident and arguably without meaning. Even the novel's title alludes to the possibility of many meanings or of nebulous meaning; Eco saying in the Postscript he chose the title "because the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left".

Title

Much attention has been paid to the mystery of what the title of the novel refers to. In fact, Eco has stated that his intention was to find a "totally neutral title". In one version of the story, when he had finished writing the novel, Eco hurriedly suggested some ten names for it and asked a few of his friends to choose one. They chose The Name of the Rose. In another version of the story, Eco had wanted the neutral title Adso of Melk, but that was vetoed by his publisher, and then the title The Name of the Rose "came to me virtually by chance". Eco wrote that he liked this title "because the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left."

The book's last line, translates literally as "Yesterday's rose endures in its name, we hold empty names". The general sense, as Eco pointed out, was that from the beauty of the past, now disappeared, we hold only the name. In this novel, the lost "rose" could be seen as Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's book on comedy (now forever lost), the exquisite library now destroyed, or the beautiful peasant girl now dead. We only know them by the description Adso provides us — we only have the name of the book on comedy, not its contents. As Adso points out at the end of the fifth day, he does not even know the name of the peasant girl to lament her. Does this mean she does not endure at all?

Perhaps this is a deliberate mis-translation. This quote has also been translated as "Yesterday's Rome stands only in name, we hold only empty names". This line is a verse by twelfth century monk Bernard of Cluny
Bernard of Cluny
Bernard of Cluny was a Benedictine monk of the first half of the 12th century, a poet, satirist, and hymn-writer, author of the famous verses De contemtu mundi, "On Contempt for the World"....

 (also known as Bernard of Morlaix). Medieval manuscripts of this line are not in agreement; Eco quotes one Medieval variant verbatim, but Eco was not aware at the time of the text more commonly printed in modern editions, in which the reference is to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 (Roma), not to a rose (rosa). The alternative text, with its context, runs: Nunc ubi Regulus aut ubi Romulus aut ubi Remus? / Stat Roma pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus. This translates as "Now where is Regulus, or Romulus, or Remus? / Yesterday's Rome stands only in name, we hold empty names".

Also the title of the book has been inspired by a poem written by a Mexican lyric poet, Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695):

Rosa que al prado, encarnada,

te ostentas presuntuosa

de grana y carmin banada:

campa lozana y gustosa;

pero no, que siendo hermosa

tambien seras desdichada.


which has been translated into English as:


Red rose growing in the meadow,

you vaunt yourself bravely

bathed in crimson and carmine:

a rich and fragrant show.

But no: Being fair, you will be unhappy soon.

To other works

It is necessary to mention here, that the historical novel with medieval time setting was re-discovered in Italy a short time before by Italo Alighiero Chiusano
Italo Alighiero Chiusano
Italo Alighiero Chiusano was an Italian independent writer, literary critic, Germanist, literary historian, essayist, author of dramas, and journalist.Chiusano authored several television screenplays.-Biography and works:...

, with his L'ordalia
L'ordalia
L′ordalia, is the third novel by Italo Alighiero Chiusano, published in 1979 . The title recalls the ordeal, a judicial practice by which, during Middle Ages, the guilt or innocence of the accused was determined by subjecting them to a unpleasant, usually dangerous experience.-Theme:Runo, a young...

. The several similarities between the two novels (time setting, the novel typology, meant as a bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, as well as the choice of the main character, a novice, and his helper, an older monk), and the notoriety that L′ordalia had in 1979, of which an expert on literature such as Umberto Eco was definitely aware, make L'ordalia to be very likely one of the first sources of inspiration of The Name of the Rose.

The name of the central character, William of Baskerville, alludes both to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

 (compare The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of four crime novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an...

) and to William of Ockham
William of Ockham
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...

 (see the next section). William's physical description and manner closely parallel those of Holmes. The name of the narrator, his apprentice Adso, is among other things a pun on Simplicio from Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

's Dialogue; Adso = ad Simplicio ("to Simplicio"). The name Adso also compares closely to the name of Sherlock Holmes's investigative partner, Watson.

As usual in Eco's novels, there is a display of erudition
Erudition
The word erudition came into Middle English from Latin. A scholar is erudite when instruction and reading followed by digestion and contemplation have effaced all rudeness , that is to say smoothed away all raw, untrained incivility...

. The blind librarian Jorge from Burgos
Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

 is a nod to Argentinian
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 writer Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

, a major influence on Eco. Borges was blind during his later years and was also director of Argentina's national library; his short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 "The Library of Babel
The Library of Babel
"The Library of Babel" is a short story by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges , conceiving of a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format....

" was a clear inspiration for the secret library in Eco's book: "The Library is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite, number of hexagonal galleries, with enormous ventilation shafts in the middle, encircled by very low railings". Another one of Borges's stories, "The Secret Miracle
The Secret Miracle
"The Secret Miracle" is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It was first published in the magazine Sur in February 1943.-Plot:...

", features a blind librarian. In addition, a number of other themes drawn from various of Borges's works are used throughout The Name of the Rose: labyrinth
Labyrinth
In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos...

s, mirrors, sects and obscure manuscripts and books.

The ending also owes a debt to Borges's "Death and the Compass
Death and the Compass
Death and the Compass is British director Alex Cox's second Mexican feature , made in 1992. Based on the short story Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges, the film is in English, and stars Peter Boyle as Erik Lönnrot the detective, Miguel Sandoval as Treviranus, his boss, and Christopher...

", wherein a detective proposes a theory for the behavior of a murderer. The murderer learns of the theory and uses it to trap the detective. In The Name of the Rose, the librarian Jorge uses William's belief that the murders are based on the Revelation of John to misdirect William, though in Eco's tale, the detective succeeds in solving the crime.

Eco seems also to have been aware of Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's short story The Eye of Allah, which touches on many of the same themes – optics, manuscript-illumination, music, medicine, priestly authority and (a stereotyped impression of) the Church's attitude to scientific discovery and independent thought – and which includes a character named John of Burgos
Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

.

Eco spent some time at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 while writing the book. The stairs in the monastery's library bear a striking resemblance to those in Robarts Library
Robarts Library
The John P. Robarts Research Library, commonly referred to as Robarts Library, is the main humanities and social sciences library of the University of Toronto Libraries and the largest individual library in the university...

. Throughout the book, there are Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 quotes, authentic and apocryphal. There are also discussions of the philosophy of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and of a variety of millenarist heresies, especially those associated with the fraticelli
Fraticelli
The Fraticelli, sometimes confusingly called Fratricelli, were medieval Roman Catholic groups that could trace their origins to the Franciscans, but which came into being as a separate entity. The Fraticelli were declared heretical by the Church in 1296 by Boniface VIII...

. Numerous other philosophers are referenced throughout the book, often anachronistically, including Wittgenstein. The "poisoned page" theme is in a classic Chinese novel, Jin Ping Mei
Jin Ping Mei
Jin Ping Mei, or The Plum in the Golden Vase is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in the vernacular during the late Ming Dynasty. The author was Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng , "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling", a clear pseudonym, and his identity is otherwise unknown...

, usually translated into English as The Golden Lotus.

The plot element of the poisoned book, on the other hand may refer or may have been inspired by a little known tale of the Arabian Nights ("The story of the vizir of the King Iounane and of the doctor Rouinane", itself in the "Story of the fisherman and the Efrit") where the King Iounane is led into poisoning himself by licking his finger while reading a book, although there is no way to prove or disprove such a reference.

To actual history, geography and current science

William of Ockham, who lived during the time at which the novel is set, first put forward the principle known as "Ockham's Razor": often summarised as the dictum that one should always accept as most-likely the simplest explanation that accounts for all the facts (a method used by William of Baskerville in the novel).

The book describes monastic life in the 14th century. The action takes place at a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 abbey during the controversy surrounding the Apostolic poverty
Apostolic poverty
Apostolic poverty is a doctrine professed in the thirteenth century by the newly formed religious orders, known as the mendicant orders, in direct response to calls for reform in the Roman Catholic Church...

 between branches of Franciscans and Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

; see Renewed controversy on the question of poverty. The Spirituals abhor wealth, bordering on the Apostolics or Dulcinian
Dulcinian
The Dulcinian movement was a religious sect of the Late Middle Ages, originating within the Apostolic Brethren. The Dulcinians, or Dulcinites, and Apostolics were inspired by Franciscan ideals and influenced by the Joachimites, but were considered heretical by the Catholic Church. Their name...

 heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

. The book highlights this tension that existed within Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 during the medieval era: the Spirituals, one faction within the Franciscan order, demanded that the Church should abandon all wealth, and some heretical sects began killing the well-to-do, while the majority of the Franciscans and the clergy took to a broader interpretation of the gospel.

A number of the characters, such as the Inquisitor
Inquisitor
An inquisitor was an official in an Inquisition, an organisation or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things frowned on by the Roman Catholic Church...

 Bernard Gui
Bernard Gui
Bernard Gui , also known as Bernardo Gui or Bernardus Guidonis, was an inquisitor of the Dominican Order in the Late Middle Ages during the Medieval Inquisition, Bishop of Lodève, and one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages...

, Ubertino of Casale
Ubertino of Casale
Ubertino of Casale was an Italian Franciscan and one of the leaders of the stricter branch of the Franciscan Christian order. For some time he was a chaplain of the cardinal Orsini....

 and the Minorite Michael of Cesena
Michael of Cesena
Michael of Cesena was an Italian Franciscan, general of that Order, and theologian.-Biography:...

, are historical figures, though the novel's characterization of them is not always historically accurate. Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 and his Comedy are mentioned once in passing. However, Eco notes in a companion book that he had to site the monastery in mountains so it would experience early frosts, in order for that action to take place at a time when Bernard Gui could have been in the area. For the purposes of the plot, he needed a quantity of pig blood, but at that time pigs were not usually slaughtered until a frost had arrived. Later in the year Gui was known to have been away from Italy and could not have participated in the events at the monastery.

Adso's description of the portal of the monastery is recognisably that of the portal of the church at Moissac, France
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

.

Adaptations

  • The Name of the Rose was made into a film
    The Name of the Rose (film)
    The Name of the Rose is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian Slater is his apprentice Adso of Melk, who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval...

     in 1986, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
    Jean-Jacques Annaud
    Jean-Jacques Annaud is a French film director, film producer and screenwriter.- Biography :Annaud was born in Juvisy-sur-Orge, Essonne...

     and starring Sean Connery
    Sean Connery
    Sir Thomas Sean Connery , better known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930), better known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy...

     as William of Baskerville
    William of Baskerville
    William of Baskerville is a fictional Franciscan friar from the novel Il nome della rosa by Umberto Eco...

     and Christian Slater
    Christian Slater
    Christian Michael Leonard Slater is an American actor. He made his film debut with a small role in The Postman Always Rings Twice before playing a leading role in the 1985 film The Legend of Billie Jean...

     as Adso.
  • A play adaptation by Grigore Gonţa had its premiere at National Theatre Bucharest
    National Theatre Bucharest
    The National Theatre Bucharest is one of the national theatres of Romania, located in the capital city of Bucharest.-Founding:It was founded as the Teatrul cel Mare din Bucureşti in 1852, its first director being Costache Caragiale...

     in 1998, starring Radu Beligan
    Radu Beligan
    Radu Beligan is a Romanian actor who has appeared in theatre, film, television, and radio.He played many celebrated roles by major Romanian playwrights and universally known roles by Shakespeare, Goldoni,...

    , Gheorghe Dinică
    Gheorghe Dinica
    Gheorghe Dinică was a Romanian actor.Dinică showed an early interest in acting, being part of different amateur theater troupes since he was 17. In 1957, he entered The National Institute of Theatre and Cinematography Art in Bucharest. He graduated in 1961, already drawing public attention with...

     and Ion Cojar
    Ion Cojar
    Ion Cojar was a Romanian theatre director and method acting professor at UNATC. He is the pioneer of the Romanian method acting school.-See also:* Ion Cojar * Stanislavski's system* Method acting...

    .
  • A 2 part radio drama based on the novel and adapted by Chris Dolan was broadcast on BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     on the 16th and 23rd of June, 2006.
  • A play adaptation in two parts was broadcast by BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     commencing 16 July 2006 and ending 23 July 2006.
  • A radio parody
    Parody
    A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

     inspired by the film adaptation was made as part of the Crème de la Crime series by Punt and Dennis
    Punt and Dennis
    Punt and Dennis are a comedy double act consisting of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis.They came to public attention as one half of The Mary Whitehouse Experience, a comedy show on BBC Radio 1 which then transferred to television...

    , also on BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

    .
  • A Spanish
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

     video game adaptation was released in 1987 under the title La Abadía del Crimen
    La Abadía del Crimen
    La Abadía del Crimen is a computer video game programmed in 1987 by Paco Menéndez. The game was originally conceived as a version of Umberto Eco's book...

     (The Abbey of Crime). A 1999 remake can be played in several languages, including English.
  • A boardgame with the same name has been published in 2008 by Ravensburger
    Ravensburger
    Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH is a German game company. It is a leader in the European puzzle market.-History:The company was founded by Otto Robert Maier with seat in Ravensburg, a town in Upper Swabia in southern Germany. He began publishing in 1883 with his first author contract...

    . The game is written by Stephan Feld and is based on the events of the book.
  • An adventure
    Graphic adventure game
    A graphic adventure game is a form of adventure game. They are distinct from text adventures. Whereas a player must actively observe using commands such as "look" in a text-based adventure, graphic adventures revolutionized gameplay by making use of natural human perception...

     video game adaptation titled The Abbey developed by Alcachofa Soft and published in 2008 by DreamCatcher Interactive.

See also

  • Historical whodunnit
    Historical whodunnit
    The historical whodunnit is a sub-genre of historical fiction which bears elements of the classical mystery novel, in which the central plot involves a crime and the setting has some historical significance. One of the big areas of debate within the community of fans is what makes a given setting...

  • Le Mondes 100 Books of the Century
    Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century
    The 100 Books of the Century is a grading of the books considered as the hundred best of the 20th century, drawn up in the spring of 1999 through a poll conducted by the French retailer Fnac and the Paris newspaper Le Monde....

  • The Name of the Rose (film)
    The Name of the Rose (film)
    The Name of the Rose is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian Slater is his apprentice Adso of Melk, who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval...


External links

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