Don Rea's Reviews > The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
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's review
Aug 07, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: Eco fans, monk mystery fans, critics of Christianity
Read in August, 2008

This isn't actually the edition I read, but the one I did read, without the Postscript, isn't in the database...

Having read Foucault's Pendulum and having seen Annaud's film adaptation of this novel, I expected this to be more complex than it, in fact, turned out to be. To my very great surprise, the film actually captured all the important parts of the story; the only thing to be gained, in terms of narrative, by reading the novel is deeper characterization.

An aside: I took one year of college French back in the day, simply because 18th and 19th century literature in English includes many untranslated quotations and conversations in French. I wanted to know enough French to be able to work those out. I am reminded of that here because this novel, at least in the English translation I read, includes many untranslated quotations and conversations in Latin. I haven't seen an Italian edition, but I assume they are in Latin in the original as well. It's kind of puzzling since all of the characters but one (the meta-eponymous girl) are medieval monks, and are presumably speaking Latin at all times; so why are these particular passages not rendered into modern vernacular? Since I cannot read them, alas, I don't know. But one gets the feeling that, just as English authors of the 1800s assumed that anyone literate would speak French, Eco assumes that anyone willing to do battle with his prose knows Latin.

Anyway, as I was saying, the film is narratively very faithful; so if you liked it, you will like the book, and vice versa (okay, we know a little Latin).
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Shane I actually read this a long time ago and I remember the frequency of untranslated quotes being my biggest complaint. It was good though and I just saw the movie for the first time earlier this year (I think - I'm getting old so the memory is going). I felt the same way (that it did the book justice), some of those old creepy guys were great!

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