The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose
This book nearly killed me. And not in a good way. I bought it a few months ago on the basis of this AskMeFi thread, which compared it to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I thought, hey, I liked that book! And people gave this one some rave reviews. So I dived in.

Ugh. I HATED IT. It started off okay, and I actually liked how Eco introduced William with a nod to classic Sherlock Holmes stories. (Specifically, the bit about the runaway horse.) The murder mystery was compelling, but it makes up only about 10% of the book. I’m serious. For every tiny scrap of a clue you got, there’d be twenty pages of random discourse on medieval monks, philosophy, the Inquisition, Papal succession, and heretical sects. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to recognize all these groups’ names (like, maybe in Italy this stuff is all well known?), or whether the point was to completely overwhelm and disorient the reader (which is what happened). The only, ONLY reason I forced myself to finish it was just so I could find out who the killer was. Oh, and I was mildly curious to find out what the title referred to, which is – SPOILER ALERT – nothing. IT SUCKED.

So basically, if you’re looking for a mildly compelling murder mystery with lots of priestly sex, torture, and poison, but that’s somehow also COMPLETELY BORING at the same time, this is your book.

Has anyone seen the movie with Sean Connery? Is it any good?


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  1. Well, I’ll take that one off my To Read list!
    I did see the movie years ago, and remember liking it, but that might have been because I was a total Christian Slater fangirl back in the day, and he was in it.

  2. Obviously, you were in the other HP section freshman year. It’s like Delaney’s FAVORITE BOOK EVER — we spent weeks reading it when we were in our Medieval phase. Apparently, it’s brilliant because Eco did things like measure the size of the courtyard and then time the length of the dialogue so that it would actually take that long to talk and walk across the courtyard. Or something. That’s really all I remember about it.

    That and that it was better than reading the Rule of St. Benedict.

  3. Wow. I totally dodged a bullet there! Instead I was over in Buttigieg’s class slogging through… Actually, I can’t remember anything memorable we read. Except that one about the pygmies right at the start of the year.

  4. Haven’t read it. The Sean Connery/Christian Slater movie version isn’t bad, although I haven’t seen it since my Blockbuster Video high school days.

  5. I think that the title refers to the Rosicrucians, a proto-Masonic group that was founded in the Middle Ages. They believe that they kept a lot of knowledge secretly when society had forgotten it. Wikipedia may help. But I believe this novel is really hard. I haven’t tried it myself. Maybe I’ll try it for my next long-haul flight. 🙂

  6. I loved the movie…hey, Sean Connery, a young Christian Slater – what’s not to love?! And the movie focuses mostly on the mystery with only very small amounts of the theology.

  7. I linked to the Wikipedia entry about the title, M-H. Eco has stated that he wanted something totally neutral. Nothing about Rosicrucians in there!

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