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The Name of the Rose: including the Author's Postscript Paperback – September 28, 1994

505 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Eco, an Italian philosopher and best-selling novelist, is a great polymathic fabulist in the tradition of Swift, Voltaire, Joyce, and Borges. The Name of the Rose, which sold 50 million copies worldwide, is an experimental medieval whodunit set in a monastic library. In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate heresy among the monks in an Italian abbey; a series of bizarre murders overshadows the mission. Within the mystery is a tale of books, librarians, patrons, censorship, and the search for truth in a period of tension between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. The book became a hit despite some obscure passages and allusions. This deftly abridged version, ably performed by Theodore Bikel, retains the genius of the original but is far more accessible. Foucault's Pendulum, Eco's second novel, is a bit irritating. The plot consists of three Milan editors who concoct a series on the occult for an unscrupulous publishing house that Eco ridicules mercilessly. The work details medieval phenomena including the Knights Templar, an ancient order with a scheme to dominate the world. Unfortunately, few listeners will make sense of this failed thriller. The Island of the Day Before is an ingenious tale that begins with a shipwreck in 1643. Roberta della Griva survives and boards another ship only to find himself trapped. Flashbacks give us Renaissance battles, the French court, spies, intriguing love affairs, and the attempt to solve the problem of longitude. It's a world of metaphors and paradoxes created by an entertaining scholar. Tim Curry, who also narrates Foucault's Pendulum, provides a spirited narration. Ultimately, libraries should avoid Foucault's Pendulum, but educated patrons will form an eager audience for both The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before.
James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Novel by Umberto Eco, published in Italian as Il nome della rosa in 1980. Although the work stands on its own as a murder mystery, it is more accurately seen as a questioning of "truth" from theological, philosophical, scholarly, and historical perspectives. The story centers on William of Baskerville, a 50-year-old monk who is sent to investigate a death at a Benedictine monastery. During his search, several other monks are killed in a bizarre pattern that reflects the Book of Revelation. Highly rational, Baskerville meets his nemesis in Jorge of Burgos, a doctrinaire blind monk determined to destroy heresy at any cost. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (September 28, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156001314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156001311
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (505 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Umberto Eco (born 5 January 1932) is an Italian novelist, medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, and literary critic.

He is the author of several bestselling novels, The Name of The Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of The Day Before, and Baudolino. His collections of essays include Five Moral Pieces, Kant and the Platypus, Serendipities, Travels In Hyperreality, and How To Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays.

He has also written academic texts and children's books.

Photography (c) Università Reggio Calabria

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

397 of 424 people found the following review helpful By J. Mullin on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
One reviewer here on Amazon was right on the money when he said that reading a novel by Umberto Eco instantly raises your IQ by a couple of points. The Name of the Rose has been my first encounter with Eco's work, and I was for the most part very impressed with his skillful murder mystery set in a 14th century Italian monastery.
The novel works on many levels. It is a compelling murder mystery, as young narrator Adso of Elk accompanies the wise William of Baskerville as he uses logic and semiotics to not only solve a murder mystery, but to decipher labrynths and hidden secrets of the vast monastery library. Interwoven with the murder mystery is a virtual course on philosophy and late Middle Ages religion, as Eco provides detailed accounts of the histories of various sects, includes scholarly debate on topics such as the poverty of Christ, and a history of the Catholic Church leading to the establishment of a papacy in Avignon, France.
One is reminded of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as William and Adso use logic and determination to piece together numerous bizarre deaths and occurences at the Abbey, while encountering obstacles and outright hostility by the Abbot and his librarian, to name a couple. The setting of the novel, and the glimpse into a culture that few of us can even imagine, is reason enough to read The Name of the Rose.
The book is not without its faults however. I think the book should stand alone, (ie you should not have to buy a separate "reader's guide") and I was very frustrated at the numerous Latin phrases that are included throughout the novel with no translation. Perhaps this is more the fault of the translator than Eco himself, but it makes for a difficult reading experience.
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127 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'd like to add to the many reviews of this book only a few comments about the meaning of the famous Latin sentence "Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus". Literaly it can be translated as "The ancient rose subsists thanks to its name, we have only bare names". It is an ancient sentence often quoted by s.c. nominalist philosophers of Middle Ages who thought that our mind isn't able to discover the true essence of things and so it isn't able a fortiori to have the minimum idea of God. In fact in medieval philosophy God was often compared to the figure of a rose; the nominalists wanted to say with the sentence that even God, the supreme being, persists only through its name, i.e. persists upon an extremely frail thing. Names were seen as simple "flatus vocis", "emission of voice" without value. The nominalist philosophers who declared that even God was a flatus vocis were condemned as heretics (a theme that recurs often in the novel). But here the sentence isn't quoted only for its historical value, but also because it can be applied also to the love of the young monk Adso; he meets in the monastry a young woman and perhaps falls in love with her. In his mind she is just the "rose", i.e. God, of whom he doesn't know the name (the woman and Adso speak different languages). It is then a very pitiful and sad thing that of the woman he doesn't know the name, because, if nominalist theories were true, he won't be able to keep with him, in his heart and mind, in his future life and old age, the remembrances of that encounter and of those days which changed his life and mind forever (cf. the pages of the novel where the old Adso comments on those evets).
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117 of 127 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is November, 1327. Adso of Melk, the narrator, has accompanied William of Baskerville to a remote, wealthy Franciscan abbey in the mountains of northern Italy. Upon arriving, William discovers that a murder has taken place and the body of the monk, Adelmo, has been discovered outside the abbey walls. The abbot, Abo, is very concerned and charges William with solving the murders. For, not only is the safety of the monks in jeopardy, a papal delegation from Pope John XXII in Avignon could well use the murders as an excuse for investigating the abbey, something Abo definitely wants to avoid. By the time the papal delegation, led by two inquisitors arrives, the situation at the abbey has worsened. Two more monks are dead and two more die soon afterward. The abbot's worst fears are realized when the papal inquisitors learn he has been sheltering monks who were once followers of the condemed heretic, Fra Dolcino. Although the abott dismisses Willliam, he remains and a few hours later, the mystery is solved, two more monks have died and the monastery has been consumed by fire. The Name of the Rose is first and foremost a mystery of the highest order, and it is possible to enjoy it on that level alone. But it is also a charming roman a clef, something I think many readers have missed. We don't have to look far to realize Sherlock Holmes in the guise of William of Baskerville or Adso as Dr. Watson. The blind Spaniard, Jorge of Burgos is easily recognized as the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. Eco also challenges us by thinly disguising figures from postwar Italian politics as various other members of the abbey. The figures in the book thus correspond to other figures in different books or in real life.Read more ›
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