The Name of The Rose [A book review]

"The Name of The Rose" by Umberto Eco

“A brilliantly conceived adventure into another time” (San Francisco Chronicle) by critically acclaimed author Umberto Eco.

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns to the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, and the empirical insights of Roger Bacon to find the killer. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey (“where the most interesting things happen at night”) armed with a wry sense of humor and a ferocious curiosity.

When I read the local translation version, I was confused and avoided that book for so long (I felt stupid for not being able to comprehend it). Then one day, I braced myself to read the English version and it took my breath away. As I got into the middle of the book, it became harder and harder to put down. It’s a historical murder mystery set in an Italian abbey in 14th century. The story revolved around Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his novice, Adso of Melk(the story’s told from the Adso’s point of view) trying to untangle the mystery (hint: truth is far more random and stranger than fiction) while struggling to face the corrupt Pope and his followers.

In the course of the story, I was tickled by questions like…

What is ‘truth’, does anyone have a right to determine ‘truth’, is it ‘static’ concept or is it naturally ‘bend-able’, do curiosity and faith go together, how we can define heresy, how we should defend our faith, will we be wiser if we stay on track obeying rules or if we let our guard down and commit sin sometimes?

This book, beyond satisfying our intellectual need (with William’s insightful analysis), but also serves as a reminder to stay critical – not blindly believe the ‘truth’ that is shoveled down to your throat regardless of the status of the person.


  1. Thank you for the review. I am planing to read this book, also another Eco book- The Foucault’s Pendulum. I haven’t read Eco before, but I have read some similar stuff by Orhan Pamuk and Italo Calvino.

    Have you read Pamuk’s My Name is Red? It is set in the 16th century, in the Ottoman empire. An intellectual murder mystery, and while the investigation progresses, we learn a lot about Islamic art, influences in art, the tension between East and West, and issues of identity.

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