The international best seller! A masterful gothic thriller set against the turbulence of medieval Italy.
The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. But his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths that take place in seven days and nights of apocalyptic terror.
Brother William turns detective, and a uniquely deft one at that. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon - all sharpened to a glistening edge by his wry humor and ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where "the most interesting things happen at night".
As Brother William goes about unraveling the mystery of what happens at the abbey by day and by night, listeners step into a brilliant re-creation of the 14th century, with its dark superstitions and wild prejudices, its hidden passions and sordid intrigues. Virtuoso storyteller Umberto Eco conjures up a gloriously rich portrait of this world with such grace, ease, wit, and love that you will become utterly intoxicated with the place and time.
©1980 Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri-Bompiani, Snzogno, Etas S.p.A.; English Translation ©1983 by Harcourt Brace & Company and Martin Secker & Warburg Limited (P)2013 Naxos AudioBooks
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
On the surface, Umberto Eco's classic, The Name of the Rose, is a whodunit mystery set in a monastery in 14th century Italy. A perspicacious monk named William of Baskerville (an obvious nod) and his young assistant, Adso, who narrates the story as a much older man, arrive at the monastery, the scene of mysterious murders. Given that delegations from the Pope and Emperor, whose theologies have schismed, are about to arrive for a conference, and the air is already tense, William must get the root of the foul deeds. And, so, he puts to use his well-honed powers of observation and deduction in pursuit of ultimate causes. For, soon, an inquisitor will be arriving and things will get uncomfortable.
However, it's the turbulent 14th century, and ultimate causes may not be so clear, given the differing schools of thought on the nature of good and evil, sin and salvation, power and poverty, or reason versus superstition that embroil Christendom. At its core, TNTR is a philosophical and somewhat challenging book. Eco isn't afraid to pause the action and throw ideas at the reader, or look backwards in time and trace the evolution of different heretical Christian orders. Though these elements are a little confusing at first, if the reader is patient, it becomes clear that many of the themes are timeless and familiar.
This book is really a meditation on symbols and their meaning, the way ideas in our minds seek but never quite grasp the underlying reality, thus creating new ones. When does heresy stray from orthodoxy and become heresy, and what does each really mean? When does commitment to poverty become an act of violent revolution? What defines the line between sexuality that is good and sexuality that is a sin? How long do names, memories, and ideas hold onto an essence of something, when that thing is gone? When does reason lead us to answers, and when do our efforts to see through illusion create their own illusions? Is God simply the ultimate symbol, and what fearsome truth do we uncover in trying to peer beyond the veil?
To me, these rich questions (which will probably bore the heck out of readers who have no interest in philosophy or medieval theology) made for a moving read. Gradually, the riddles of the story build: a library filled with secrets, a close-mouthed gatekeeper, a labyrinth (see wikipedia for a map), a mysterious book, a prophetic figure, and trysts and twists in the dark of night. The murders, as they take place, point to the signs of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. And, indeed, the story does build to a kind of apocalypse, filled with symbolism that I found quite brilliant, even as it calls into question all symbols. I won't hint at what Eco places behind the final seals, but to me, the best endings are the ones that both meet your expectations and surprise you, and I think he pulled that off.
If you're looking for an accessible thriller similar to the Da Vinci Code, don't bother. This novel is for people who want to fully engage their brains, and don't mind a bit of rereading to make sense of the pieces. Fans of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which has a lot of parallels, or of David Mitchell, might want to check this book out. It’s a little more “literary” than the works of both those authors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been an influence on them.
To audible listeners, I should let you know that the various problems with the download and recording described by others seem to have been cleaned up. There was some faint background noise in part 3, but nothing that bothered me.
For those reviews complaining that the third part of the audio book is not available, or about the production values - those are solved. At least I didn't have those problems. Upon purchase I had all 3 parts available for download. Having listened to the book twice now (the whole entire thing), I have not noticed any production problems with background noise or "voices like a party down the hall" or a "studio door open". I don't know if those were draft edits or a pre-release product or what, but the technical problems are solved.
I loved that all the characters had a separate voice, as narrated by the actor. That made following the action much easier for me. I used this version instead of the paperback book for a college class. I found that the book and the audiobook read word for word, and I could listen to the audio book while commuting.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Mortification of the Ears, or
An unwholesome penance,
or an idle silence... or
"Redde mihi credita"
A couple days ago I called Audible to complain that they only had 2 out of 3 sections of the Unabridged 'Name of the Rose' audiobook available. Nothing is more disappointing than enjoying a listen and realizing that the last 6 hours of the book have gone missing. I remember once reading a novel in which my sister, as a joke, had removed the last couple pages. It was like that but more Kafkaesque. Then: I called complained, they refunded, I waited, they fixed/resurrected, I repurchased, I continued listening ... but the production quality was bad (not wicked bad or evil bad just slothful bad).
Second only to being flagellated by not having a whole book is realizing the missing piece is poorly produced. I could hear voices (NO, not those voices), like someone forgot to close the recording door and in a room down the hall someone else was having an office party at Macmillan Audio. Perhaps there was even cake. I couldn't tell if there was cake, but it sure sounded fun that background talking behind the narration of the book. Ugh.
As far as the book: Brilliant. Eco is amazing (Großer Eco, wir loben dich). But unless you NEED to listen to this, I'd skip it. GO buy the book and read it because Brother Umberto deserves better than the audiomonks at the Abbey of Macmillan.
Just don't read it outloud with a party down the hall, or at least shut the hidden d___ door. Go enjoy this book in silence.
Pax, pax tibi,
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
My favorite very odd mystery. They finally did an unabridged version of it and it is a delight. Treat yourself to a view of heretics, saints, and sinners in a world where the only thing that matters is books. I love this!
For all the book readers who feared a disappointing rendition to this (arguably best ever) book--a wonderful and accessible interpretation, with unsurpassed narration. Bravo!
First off, all of the problems with the downloading have been fixed. The whole recording is flawless. The narrator has the perfect voice for the character of an aging monk in the middle ages. Parts of the book are dry. I can imagine many people would have trouble listening through the exposition on theology and politics. But if you get the gist of these, you do not need to get every detail to know what is going on. This is definitely a mystery novel, but its an academic mystery. It is a book to listen to at night. It has a great payoff.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Whew! I just finished this long, long and satisfying ride! Experiencing through Audible an old favorite can be a lesson in the changes in one's life and in current attitudes that bring about changes in taste and appreciation of certain books.
Not so here. Umberto Eco's fantastic library mystery holds up well through the years and the topics that matter in our world. Because, in "The Name of the Rose", the intelligent puzzle is just a part of the whole - and this is definitely a holistic work!
My favorite diversion-from-the-main-plot (and there are lots to choose from) concerns the issue of Jesus's poverty. What to most of us is self-evident in Christianity becomes a tangled and complex argument about wealth and power. It's a delicious look into the mind of the Medieval Catholic hierarchy, and it reads very true for a fictional account. You see, if Jesus was poor and advised his followers to be also, then how can the Church justify the grand cathedrals, the rich trappings of the priests, the accumulation of fortunes in art and relics? If Jesus was poor and separated himself from worldly concerns, how can Popes pretend to rival the Dukes and Kings for political power and influence? So, maybe Jesus did carry a purse - and the determination of this question means literally life or death for whole sects of Christians in the age of the Inquisitions!
Topics so relevant to our time crop up everywhere in this book. Major debates about religious fanaticism, intolerance, and misogyny are presented in ways that fascinate rather than bore. The characters represent these differing points of view in frighteningly realistic ways, and the exchange of arguments makes for challenging and intelligent involvement by the reader/listener.
I'm not sure how much I was hearing of which of these narrators, but they are all to be commended. I loved the different voices and the emotions conveyed.
This book is worth revisiting - or enjoying for the first time in its Audio version!
Old World Traveler
I have not finished listening and reading this book. If you like words, this is the book for you. Before now, I had never heard of Umberto Eco and had no idea what his style might be. This was his first book of many years ago and was a sensation. I can easily see why.
This is a detective story set in the 1300s at a monastery. The story is seen through the eyes of a young monk whose master is a brilliant ex-inquisitor. There are two murders. There is an extraordinary library most are not allowed to enter. There are secret passages. Spiritualism. Mysticism.
What is so absorbing for me is the vocabulary. I find myself loving the dictionary on my Kindle that allows me to look up all sorts of words. The story uses a lot of old world terms along with words you never hear in our speech today. Learn some Latin in the process!
I love the setting and viewing 14th century Christianity.
This narrator puts you right there. His voice transports you back hundreds of years.
I never listen in one setting. What is the fun in that? This is a book you savor.
This is a great book for those who like Italy or might wish to travel to Italy. This book has certainly been read and the style copied by more modern authors. This is a book for people who like to think. Eco crafted this story masterfully.
I highly recommend this. I have read the book in both Italian and English, and I am convinced that, except for technical works, all books are best heard, and not read silently. The Romans were right in that regard. But to have the words brought to life further by such an expressive and rich voice was an unexpected joy. The passages that seemed weighty and dense when read became lucid and enjoyable when spoken. Even the Latin became comprehensible somehow.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
How can an audio publisher claim a book is unabridged, then stop at page 309 of 501 pages (in print)? Just stop.... Is it arrogance? I tend to doubt it since the narrators and studio and publishing rights must be met to at least break even. Is it pomposity? Again, I doubt this because this is not lite lit for lemmings and we don't care for being misled, and will write a review like this to dissuade others from such duping! I guess it's carelessness and it's rather sad.
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