Short Book Review: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
SBR: Unlike my previous reads Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is a piece of historical fiction (specifically mystery) which does bring modern sensibilities into a story set in the 14th century. Especially is philosophical debates. But that has a charm of its own. A story like this can provoke you to examine your own unassailable beliefs and make to think if they really are that unassailable.
If you are looking purely for a mystery novel, you might be bored by the philosophy intervening. But I liked it because it felt like a good supplemental reading to the scholastic philosophy chapters I encountered in The History of Western Philosophy. The problem in this book was the frequent use of (untranslated) Latin phrases and sentences. This meant that I could not curl up in the bed to read the book. I often needed to consult this good man’s work and Google Translate.
To read or not to read: Read if you can enjoy the dossier on the religion of middle ages, monasticism and scholastic philosophy and are willing to work on your (ahem!) Latin.
- I realized while reading this book that the expression “It is Greek to me” might be from the time when people spoke Latin. We can, perhaps, shift to using”It is Latin to me”.
- I didn’t start reading the book after the news of the author’s death. He died while I was reading the book. An eerie feeling!