The Name of the Rose

by Umberto Eco


Umberto Eco once again manages to entrap me with a novel simultaneously about mediaeval politics and theology on the one hand and the search for and nature of truth on the other. The clashes between the Empire and the papacy were touched on in some of his other works, but the real headline for me here was the deep dive into the nature of heresy (which echoed to me elements of the novel Q) and the secular significance of debates about the poverty of Christ. William was an excellent modern lens into the mindset of the period, and an important source of dry humour.

The hook this time is a murder mystery, the rational English logician detective (and naive but plucky apprentice) arrive at the remote Italian abbey just as a terrible death has occurred. Confidentially, they are brought in on the case, which must be solved before the big conference that will happen in a few days' time. Theoretically quite dreary stuff, it was actually quite fun, and served to break up the pacing between what could otherwise have been simply a long sequence of frosty theological conversations and narrative exposition.