Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just Finished: The Name of the Rose

I'm so glad I've finally finished this book. It took for-ev-er. First, if you ever decide to read The Name of the Rose, make sure you purchase the edition with footnotes for all the Latin. What I mean to say is ALL THE LATIN. I'm quite certain I missed some key points because, like most people in the world, I can't read the mother of Romance Languages.

The Name of the Rose takes place at an abbey in medieval Italy. A young novice named Adso (and also the narrator) is traveling with former inquisitor Brother William of Baskerville as he goes to the abbey where a debate will be held over supposed heresies in the Franciscans who live at the abbey. The wealthy abbey is known for its wealth, in particular, having one of the best libraries in all of Christendom.

Upon arrival, William is immediately asked to deal with the apparent murder of a young scribe. From there, mysteries unfold surrounding the great library, the books inside it, and the people who keep its secrets.

While all of this sounds very compelling, the book is 500 pages long and chock full of theological debates about poverty, whether or not Jesus laughed, and the use of secular texts to the people of the Church. Some of this was really fascinating and clearly issues dealt with in the church today, but some of it went into archaic territory and had little, if anything, to do with the actual mystery at hand. I did skim at points, for this point only, never because the book was poorly written. In fact, the writing (and I suppose the translation) is fluid and challenging (lots of $20 words.)

If you decide to pick it up, heed my warning from paragraph one and buy the version with footnotes!

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