Review | The Name of The Rose – Umberto Eco


  • Paperback (Vintage, 493 pages)
  • First published 1980; this edition published 2004
  • Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
  • Buy the book here

“The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a 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.'”

Being a medieval history student, The Name of The Rose sounded right up my street. A murder mystery set in an abbey in the early 1300s? Yes please.

And I really wanted to enjoy this. I really did. I’ve heard so many good things about Eco’s writing, that he could weave wonders – but all I gleaned from reading this is that his writing is overly dense and not evident in pace.

Of course, this could be due to the translation, and Eco’s writing in his native Italian might be fabulous. (If only I could read Italian.) As it is, I’m only able to read the translation – and this one fell very flat for me. There were too many non-distinctive characters; not one of them stood out. The voice was incredibly passive and offered no sight of adventure or pace – surely a murder mystery would offer those?

The Name of The Rose, in the end, did not redeem itself for me in the slightest. I wish it had. But I was left feeling underwhelmed and indifferent to the outcome. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re looking for any medieval history fiction. It doesn’t hit the mark at all.


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