The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Book #293
Reviewer: Tall, Short, Tiny & a Pickle

The Name of the RoseThe Name of the Rose tells the story of William, a Franciscan monk who travels to a monastery in Northern Italy with his apprentince, Adso, to attend a theological conference of sorts. Just before their arrival, it appears that one of the monks has either been murdered or committed suicide. As the story continues, a number of other monks mysteriously die, and William is asked by the abbey to use his superior skills of observation and curiousity to investigate the deaths.

Sounds exciting, right? Well, let me start by telling you that this review almost never eventuated. I stopped reading The Name of the Rose twice, and it almost didn’t make it back off my bookshelf. However, I was determined to finish it for a personal reading goal, and when I realised it was on the 1001 Books list…well, that made me even more determined to get to the end.

It will come as no surprise that I didn’t like this book at all; in fact, I found it incredibly boring and have nicknamed it The Book of Snore. To be fair, I imagine Eco didn’t have a sleep-deprived mother in mind when he wrote his novel, but I still think I wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I was getting a solid eight hours sleep each night. His method of telling a story within a story did nothing to endear me to his style of writing.

The length of the sentences, paragraphs and chapters was excessive; in some stories, this style works, but here, it simply didn’t. I waited for the pace to pick up…and I waited, and waited, and waited. It simply took too long to read; I wasn’t expecting instant gratification, but I was expecting to be entertained in some way, and I wasn’t.

The narrator was an insipid character, and his insights didn’t add anything to the story. Eco’s descriptive passages also missed the mark for me, which is saying a lot when I’m a big fan of Dickensian over-descriptions. I was disappointed, too, because the cover of my copy was so pretty and held such promise which the contents really didn’t deliver!

I didn’t like the use of Latin phrases when there were no translations or footnotes. It was frustrating to feel as thought I may have missed something important because of this; indeed, when I’d finished, I actually did wonder if I’d missed something and that’s why I didn’t “get” it? Because it bored and frustrated me so, I found that I didn’t retain a lot of what I read from one evening to the next, but wasn’t inclined to go back and refresh my memory. I am aware that this linguistic ambiguity is a special technique, but it’s not one I enjoyed reading.

There’s obviously a reason The Name of the Rose earned a place on the list, but I am at a loss to figure it out. If someone can convince me otherwise, I am eager to hear your glowing reviews of this book.


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