Guest Blogger Carolina Ciucci

April 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm (Guest Blogger, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

on The Name of the Rose

I knew next to nothing about The Name of the Rose when I first decided to read it. I knew it was set during the Middle Ages and that it was an accurate portrayal of the way people perceived the world back then, but I had no idea what the plot was, what the characters were like, and so on and so forth. You could have told me I’d be reading a chronicle about the slow progression from the Roman latifundium and into the feudal system and I’d have most likely believed you. And I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it to be both a gripping thriller and a thought-provoking treatise on philosophy and theology all at once.

The story is told by an elderly monk who reminisces on the week he spent accompanying William of Baskerville, his mentor and father’s friend, at a monastery. Baskerville’s initial mission is to intercede before the Pope’s men in order to get him to acknowledge Franciscan poverty as a legitimate Christian doctrine. However, he’s quickly swept up into a whirlwind of deaths, all mysterious and apparently all connected to the abbey’s library- a library the otherwise very open abbot has forbidden them to visit.

Everything about this book blew me away. From the painstakingly detailed description of a XIV century West European abbey and life within its walls, to the portrayal of the conflicts shaking the once upon a time unmovable Christian Church right to the core, passing through the way it reflected upon books; it was all so brilliantly crafted and depicted that it left me staring at the final page for several minutes before closing the book, more than just a little dazed and not quite sure how I was feeling. Now, a couple of days later, I think I’m ready to elaborate on the effects The Name of the Rose had on me.

Image of Library found on blog.christianitytoday.com

On one hand, it helped me get a better grasp on notions I had seen in class but had not really understood, finding them much too abstract and complicated at the time. It was an invaluable company to my Europe I and Spanish Lit classes, only a lot more fun and a lot less restrictive- don’t get me wrong, I like the material I read for class. But my inner ‘I-want-to-read-what-I-want-when-I-want-it’ rebellious reader is often put off when I’m on a deadline. Especially when I’m supposed to analyze and dissect texts I’d like to absorb slowly, at my own pace. So yeah, it was a relief to sink into a work of fiction I didn’t have to analyze, one I could simply enjoy and wonder and work out theories about. And of course, because of that, I absorbed said notions, said mindset, without even realizing that I was.

And then there’s the numerous passages dedicated to books. Oh, my. I didn’t just read these, I devoured them. Books were still such a novelty back in the XIV century, and it was enthralling to explore different opinions on something that is now an intrinsic part of my life, hell, an intrinsic part of who I am, but was once almost a taboo. It made me wonder- Why do I read? Why is the information contained in a book so precious to me? It reminded me of the fact that a book is nothing without a reader, that the words held in it are nothing but syntax if somebody doesn’t open it and is willing to give it the time and effort required to make it something more. It showed me, more than anything, the unique relationship between writer, reader and book. It reminded me of what a powerful, somewhat threatening tool knowledge is- and therefore why books have been both cherished and destroyed throughout history. The ‘library-as-a-labyrinth’ metaphor will certainly go down in my books as one of the most beautiful, accurate descriptions of the mysteries and wonders a library holds.

This was my first time reading this novel, but it won’t be the last. I want to come back to it after taking Latin next semester, after learning more about medieval politics and religion, after having the time to let the seeds it planted grow and want more.

Carolina Ciucci
Follow on Twitter @carolinaciucci
Follow blog: http://readingagainsttheclock.blogspot.com/
Anakalian Whims’ review of The Name of the Rose and the over all joys of the readathon.
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3 Comments

  1. Diana said,

    Great post! I’m loving the library metaphors as well. 🙂

  2. The Name of the Rose Readathon « Anakalian Whims said,

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

  3. Coming Soon… « Anakalian Whims said,

    […] so please go check out Reading Against the Clock, but don’t forget to come back here for the Official Review! Like this:Like3 bloggers like this […]

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