The Name of the Rose

Bruce N H

Active Member
Hey all,

I've just picked up The Name of the Rose and started reading. A couple of quick questions:

1. We start this coming Wednesday (May 29) right? Does anyone know how much of the book we plan on reading for this week?

2. Where should discussion of this book go. I really don't know anything about it except the few pages I've read so far about the provenance of the tale. Does it fall into fantasy? Should we discuss it in "Classical and Medieval" since that's it's setting?

BTW, this line from the prologue really jumped out at me, given that we just finished Til We Have Faces: "But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments ..."

I am quite sad, that the most important part of the book, the preface "naturalmente, un manuscritto" was left out of the discussion. As a bibliophile and collector of old manuscripts, Umberto Eco was predestined to produce a fictional background story for his novel. And I thought that especially the mythgard crowd would jump onto this and discuss it excessively.
Agreed. We are mostly Tolkien fans, so very used to discussing fiction of how the text came to us.
I post this here not having found a better place for it such a dedicated topic or sub-forum.

In Session 3 of the class on this book, professor Olsen was wondering how the phrase "judge the quick and the dead" was in the original Italian; Eco wrote it as "[...] e se tremendi apparivano era perché ruggivano in adorazione di un Venturo che avrebbe giudicato i vivi e i morti." which is literally "the living and the dead". So while "quick" is a more archaic form of "living", the Italian version doesn't have that distinction.

A thing I find fascinating about the translation is the fact that the translator chose to render many of the names in their latinized form rather than using the vulgar/Italian that was used in the original language (for instance "Brunellus" rather than "Brunello"). In a way, it's in keeping with the habit Italian had (until recently) of translating even proper names.

One last thing about the title of the book; while during the class it was mention that it calls to mind Shakespeare's "A rose by any other name" quote, Eco outright rejected that link in an interview stating that it would be quite in opposition to what he intended. The title of the book references the Latin phrase from the De contemptu mundi "Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" (the primeval rose remains by its name, bare names are all we have) another reference to the themes of the book (Spoiler: it's the last sentence of the whole book.)

Sorry if this was a bit pedantic (but I hope at least a slightly interesting), but, as an Italian who read The Name of the Rose a number of times, I find this class extremely fascinating.


I don't know if you're going to mention the adaptations of this book (it might veer into Other Minds and Hands territory), but other than the 1986 Sean Connery movie, there's also a 2019 miniseries starring John Turturro that's quite interesting and well made, although I'm not sure about it's availability in the States.