Walter's Reviews > The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
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did not like it

Eco's writing is so infectious, lively, and likeable that I thought it appropriate to pen my review in his style.

1. In which I, as reader, feel used.
Yes, I'm almost certain Eco wrote this thing for the sole purpose of informing us of how knowledgeable he is of the finer points of monastic orders, book trivia, and medieval philosophy.
Knowing most would not put up with this crap for 500 pages, he wisely chose to interrupt his many digressions on poverty, heretics, whether or not Jesus laughed, Aristotle, architecture, etc, with an amateurish mystery plot. It's pedantry disguised as fiction. I've been used.

2. In which the pace sucks.
Just when you thought it was getting interesting, just when the plot is getting meatier and it grabs your attention, here comes a dissertation or a long drawn description of doors, churches, parchments, beasts, characters that are totally irrelevant to the plot, and backstories that do nothing to shed light on the events. You must often wait a chapter or two to get back to the mystery that drove you to read this thing in the first place. Do yourself a favor and quit after he has solved his first "mystery" (page 25?).

3. In which its heavy-handedness is offensive.
Lurk around bookworms long enough and you're bound to find some pompous pseudo intellectual enraptured by the rich, textured, yet subtle literary clues so artfully crafted into this piece: "You mean to tell me that Jorge De Burgos, the blind monk, is actually a nod to Jorge Luis Borges, the blind Argentinian writer? Whaaat?" So clever...
I'm sure the late Borges heard this, face-palmed, and then turned in his grave.
EDIT: I have been duly informed, perhaps by the type referenced above, that Borges was actually alive when this "work" was published. He died shortly thereafter...

4. In which the plot fails to deliver.
Provided you made it as far as the end, all in hopes of finding a conclusion so stellar as to redeem the drudgery that preceded it, what one is most likely to find is disappointment. Most, by the time they get there, will already know who the culprit is, and given the setting and the tools the protagonists are carrying, what will happen in the final scene.
Is it a fantastic twist? A conspiracy centuries in the making? No. Just lunatic ravings akin to the ones that drove Eco to romanticize about love, lust, knowledge, etc...
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 11, 2012 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-50 of 124 (124 new)


Kevin Neilson Excellent review. However, the movie poster for this would read:
"Infectious, lively, and likeable...Do yourself a favor...it grabs your attention...a conclusion so stellar!" -Argento


message 2: by Walter (last edited Aug 07, 2012 04:01AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Walter Haha, that's how it works doesn't it? Yes, sarcasm does have its drawbacks...


Carol Great review, I agree 100%


Mariam Couldn't have put it better.

The only difference between our experiences is that I spent most of my time pausing to try and pick out an overwhelming positive that people had led me to believe this book possessed.


Carlos de Arquer "Knowing most would not put up with this crap for 500 pages, he wisely chose to interrupt his many digressions on poverty, heretics, whether or not Jesus laughed, Aristotle, architecture, etc, with an amateurish mystery plot."

Brilliant! Like written by Eco himself.


Dessin Caro ameringlese
Eco vuole imitare lo stile di una cronaca medievale, tutte le caratteristiche hai rilevato. Accontentati dei tuoi vari Patterson, Grisham e Follett, letteratura veloce e di consumo.


Naomi Some people (me included) enjoy this sort of writing—it's more than a story, it's an educational experience and a fascinating immersion in the mindset of the period.


Carlos de Arquer I have to say I finally enjoyed it. I was just expecting something different, but once you know what you're reading, it gets better.

Besides, the worst part is at the beginning, with an horrible thousands-of-pages description. Later than that, there's not such a bad experience anymore.


Pepper Your review is spot on! I couldn't even finish it. I was so bored & became so irritated with it hat I actually threw the book out the window.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I totally agree. On my fourth attempt to read this book, I have again given up; this time at page 224. I feel like there's a good story in here, if only (as with Lord of the Rings) it could have been sensibly edited! I read for pleasure, and that was too much like hard work. I'll buy the DVD and send this book to the charity shop, (which, incidentally, is where I picked it up. For a pound. With 50% off).


Walter Simon wrote: "I'll buy the DVD and send this book to the charity shop..."

You're supposed to do nice things for charity! ;)


message 12: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan I haven't read the book yet, and, given my taste in eloquence and verbosity, I might, actually, like it when I do read it. Either way, I loved this review!


Walter Thanks Jonathan!


Terri Perfect. My thoughts exactly. Over intellectualising with a rather poor murder mystery hiding underneath.


Dante "In which I, as reader, feel used" On the contrary; I have used this book many times to understand and explain concepts about literature semiotics and hypertext, among other subjects.

This is a book rich in content, it has academic value too, not just a plot. The book was made with this purpose.


Walter Dante wrote: ""In which I, as reader, feel used" On the contrary; I have used this book many times to understand and explain concepts about literature semiotics and hypertext, among other subjects.

This is a bo..."


It's great that you bring this up, since it's the main reason I picked it up in the 1st place. However, it just didn't do it for me. When it comes to semiotics, I'd much rather go through a more traditional text.


Savio Perfect review, exactly what I thought too.. pedantic trivia ...


message 18: by Kirk (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kirk Funny review, with which I agree on some points although I liked the book (read twice).

What other book would entice me to look up the meanings of 'hypotyposis', 'jacinth', etc.?


Cheryl Van Allen omg - perfect. could have been good, but zzzzzzzzzzz I gave up after 200 pages


message 20: by Lydia (new) - added it

Lydia Ingram This review cracked me up. No matter what my opinion of the book ends up being (I'm about 1/3 of the way through it), I still give this review two thumbs up. :-)


Walter Glad you have a healthy sense of humor. Thanks! :)


Terese More or less sums up my own experience with this book. As a reader I do feel a bit used. Eco is supremely knowledgable in monastic life, architecture and theological as well as philosophical disputations BUT for my taste they are just a bit too dominant and pushes the thin plot line right out of the way. I feel disappointed even though the writing is good, technically. A book to struggle through without any particular rewards at the end :/


David Totally agree with this review!


message 24: by Ginny (new) - rated it 1 star

Ginny What a spot on review. This book has long been on my "to read" list, so I was excited when somebody in my group suggested it. What a waste of time. Not only did I hate the book, I resented the writer for wasting my time.


Marzio Salamina 500 pages, and you missed the point.


message 26: by Lydia (new) - added it

Lydia Ingram 5000 hay straws, and someone misses a needle. Whose fault is it, really?


Marzio Salamina Well, 50000 copies and still selling. Mustn't be the book.


message 28: by Terri (last edited May 09, 2014 04:39AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Terri Marzio wrote: "Well, 50000 copies and still selling. Mustn't be the book."

Over a 120 million copies of Twilight sold. What a literary masterpiece it must be!

In other news...its definitely the book.


Marzio Salamina Good point.


Terri *bows* :)


message 31: by Walter (last edited May 09, 2014 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Walter


message 32: by Sru (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sru Am not sure what rating to give the book , but your review is 5 star !!!


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Walter , W A L T E R , Mores the pity for you...let's agree to vehemently disagree . I suffer with terrible insomnia when my husband is not home... So taking half a 5mg Ambien , I sometimes want to go on with writing --Grammar Nazi has a hey day with me at those times .


message 34: by Our Daisy (new) - added it

Our Daisy My feelings exactly, Walter!


Almokhtar Bukhamsin I love your review, though, I say to the reader who's looking for crime/mystery: stop right there. You'd make better use of your free/reading time with other books of the genre.
This book is more about your #1 point: In which you feel used as a reader :). If you think of yourself that, and if you view monastic orders, philosophy and history as crap, then sure, the horse story should be the most entertaining part of the book.


message 36: by Vik (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vik I only decided to read this because it's my best friend's favourite book of all time; I'm about half way through and I don't think I'll be taking reading suggestions from her in the future...


Anupama excellent comment !!


Anupama i meant excelent review. i had lots of expectations of this book and im mighty disappointed. i wish Eco gave more thrust to the murder mystery and brpught in semiotics that an average reader could understand ! give me Dan Brown anytime !!


Sarah Hayman Agreed


Sarah Hayman Agreed


Hannah My thoughts exactly. Although I loved it anyhow!


Susan He really draws a lot from Borges, who was able to do more with a short story than Eco can in 500 pages.


message 43: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Im reading this right now and really enjoying it. I like the philosophical digressions and interesting information about the setting. In fact I would have "put up with" the book without the mystery, I'm enjoying the atmosphere and thought-provoking dialogue. It doesnt feel to me that Eco is showing off, but creating the setting to draw a reader in. The novel is famous for being slow paced, philosophical and over-detailed, so I knew what I was getting.


message 44: by Bigsna (new) - added it

Bigsna yikes. I picked up the book seeing the overwhelming rating on GR and was hoping to dive into something amazing. except, even the introduction has me faltering. now im confused, whether to go by this review or to go by the collective rating. because honestly, i dont feel like going down a path i will abandon


message 45: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda I started to wonder about my intellectual capacity, because I found this highly rated book so tedious. And then I read your spot on review. And then I looked at all the other highly intellectual books that you enjoy. And I feel vindicated. Thank you.


message 46: by Kyle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kyle Barton Hilarious. I just started reading (p35 maybe) but think I will continue to enjoy both his writing and his diversions. Of course I just finished reading the entire Divine Comedy, after which a person couldn't possibly be more prepared to read The Name of the Rose.


message 47: by Amna (new)

Amna Ghafeer LOL! Your review is on point and hilarious. I'm sure others can appreciate this book better than I can...I've tried and left it twice now.


message 48: by Ted (new)

Ted Thank you for confirming my suspicions. I had a difficult time getting through the preface which is never a good sign. I think it will go back on my electronic bookshelf kept in case I am incarcerated and feel my sentence was not adequate payment to society for my crime.


message 49: by Liam (new) - added it

Liam Caffrey I actually like the heavy handed references, kinda refreshing after all the pretentious stuff Eco usually pulls (no Umberto I am not going to keep Latin, Greek and French dictionaries to hand while I read your books so I can understand all the references).
I think it's nice that he wears his influences so clearly on his sleeves here. He pretty much had to admit to the Sherlock one early.


Avinesh Shankar I agree it is way too long, the pace is very slow, action, drama, mystery very disappointing and at trhe end of a very long and difficult slog, I have not learnt much that is new or interesting.

I had a Everyman's Library edition which did not come with an appendix of the Latin translations which the book is full of but the internet has a few sites which have the translations from for the Latin quotes from this book. Constantly having to go toe the internet destroys the joy of reading.


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