Friday, December 01, 2017

The Name of the Rose

The good of a book lies in its being read. A book made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb. This library was perhaps born to save the books it houses, but now it lives to bury them (Eco, 396).

Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose is a historical murder mystery set in a medieval monastery in fourteenth century Italy. What moves the story forward is the attempt of a medieval Benedictine monastery to preserve the aura of knowledge within its boundaries. Such an attempt to keep a work of art hidden, in this case, the second book of Aristotle’s Poetics, is not just for preserving the aura of arcane knowledge but not to destroy the order of the Benedictines. The book, which is believed never to have written or lost is in the library of the monastery but its existence is a secret as the library is not open to outsiders and functions by strange customs of secrecy. There are many secrets related to the library, which nobody know mainly because only the librarian knows about the contents of the library. The monks can only ask for titles but are not allowed in the place where books are kept. The library makes copies of the rare books with the help of illuminators and scribes but then the books are given only for that purpose. Murders happen because of this secret book of the ancients on laughter is lusted after by the scholarly monks. To investigate the murders, a Franciscan monk William of Baskerville arrives at the monastery along with his novice Adso of Melk. This monk, in a very Sherlock Holmes- like fashion deduces the truth of the matter from accidental incidents.

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