The Name of the Rose Readathon

April 11, 2012 at 4:34 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Disclaimer: This is not the guest blogger post previously mentioned.  Caro’s review of this book can be found here.

I first read The Name of the Rose about four years ago.  I was just hired at Half Price Books in Humble as a bookseller and was totally stoked over my employee discount and having the opportunity to spend forty hours a week basking in the glory of the literature section.  I say basking, but in reality I was frantically shelving books completely convinced that this dream job would get yanked right from under my feet – something like too good to be true shock.

My sister had read Umberto Eco’s work when she was in college, I always imagine it was one of the last books she read on her own before before she started to have problems with her vision, but that could be a complete fabrication of my own mind.  She loved it and was excited to hear that I had stumbled across the book and felt the pull of intrigue on my soul.  You know that feeling when you first find something or someone you know you will fall in love with but you don’t know when or why, you just know its going to happen?  That’s the feeling I got the moment Eco’s book first hit my hands.

And I did fall in love.  The Name of the Rose is genius, Umberto Eco is a genius.  I eagerly read through each line, so excited about what would come next, thrilled to pieces at the idea of a library being a labyrinth in a spooky monestery.  I was in love page after page until I settled on the very last line with a deep sigh at its ending “stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that upon first reading, that last line’s deep sigh wasn’t just a lament over the ending of the book, it was also one of complete puzzlement and disastifaction in not fully understanding the meaning behind that last line, but knowing that of course there must be one.  Insert googling the quote, briefly reading a few things, being sad over the fact that I didn’t catch a literary reference on the first try because I’d never been exposed to Bernard whoever in my life, therefore wouldn’t have caught the reference the first time through, regardless of my intelligence level, and now you have a full visual of that deep sigh.  I haven’t read Bernard of Cluny’s (or is it Morlay, I find multiple references naming the author as Morlay instead of Cluny – clearly I need to brush up on my Medieval History) De Contemptu Mundi, but seeing how Eco wrote his very own ode to the concept behind the work (corruption of institutions, religion, and humanity), I’m dying to give it a try.

After reading The Name of the Rose, I devoured Foucault’s Pendulum, and began collecting everything Eco had ever penned.  Not long after, I sat down with Baudolino and Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.  So clearly, when a twitter follower mentioned doing a readathon of The Name of the Rose over the Easter holidays in 2012, I jumped at the chance to meander through the work that first introduced me to an author I will cherish for a lifetime.

Because I had already read The Name of the Rose before, I decided that this time I would read through my copy of The Key to The Name of the Rose, a handy dandy guide to all the references and phrases that I didn’t have the first time around.  I stumbled across it while shelving Literary Criticism about two years after my first dive into Eco.  In the introduction of this little guide, the authors recommend reading through the book in seven consecutive nights, taking an evening to read each day that passes in the adventure of William and Adso.  I don’t remember how long it took me to read through The Name of the Rose the first time (probably awhile, spending half the time refreshing my high school Latin), but as I re-read it for the readathon over the course of 2-3 days, I agree that there are some lovely benefits to reading it all at once.

For starters, the story stays really fresh and you don’t have to back peddle at all.  No double checking to see if that part you read two nights ago is still there. (You know you do that too sometimes, even though the book is clearly the same size it was before, has the same number of pages, sometimes you feel the need to breeze through the parts you already read to make sure you didn’t dream something up in the interem.)  You don’t feel as inclined to re-check any translations you did, its fresh, its right, you only have so long to read this next portion, so get on with the story.

On top of that, while reading it all at once, I noticed how familiar William of Baskerville is to me.  Maybe I’ve just been saturated with Agatha Christie this year, but I never noticed before how much William is a little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit Hercule Poirot, and all those fabulous sleuths we’ve enjoyed with over the years.  William is prone to shouting things like “Fantastic! More and more interesting!” before chasing after some unknown clatter and stumbling across Indiana Jones-like puzzles to be deciphered with the help of his sidekick.  (Ok, so Adso doesn’t resemble the asian kid Short Round at all, but you gotta admit he is a little bit like Arthur Hastings all the way down to his distraction when it comes to the ladies.)

All in all, I enjoy The Name of the Rose every time I read it.  I can’t wait to see what Carolina Cuicci has to say in her guest blog post and I hope you’ll come and read through her post with me.  And maybe, when we have a readathon for The Island of the Day Before, you’ll join us.

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2 Comments

  1. Guest Blogger Carolina Ciucci on The Name of the Rose « Anakalian Whims said,

    […] @carolinaciucci Follow blog: http://readingagainsttheclock.blogspot.com/ Anakalian Whims’ review of The Name of the Rose and the over all joys of the readathon. Like this:LikeOne blogger likes […]

  2. o1kric said,

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