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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • March 03, 2006


    [26] The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

    In 1327, Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy. Brother William of England and his scribe, who is a Benedictine novice and the narrator of the book, arrive to investigate. The timely arrival of the perspicacious brother coincides with seven bizarre deaths at the abbey. The spree of deaths from surreptitious cause claims the life of an illustrator Adelmo, a Greek scholar Venantius and other monks at the abbey.

    The first fifty or so pages of the book brief the vicissitudes of churches and the emergence of heresies and diabolical practices. My first impression of the novel is some circuitous unraveling of heretics and power struggles between the Pope and the emperor. After trudging through these historical backgrounds and religious overtones, the book becomes nothing but an intriguing thriller in probing and unraveling the mystery behind all the deaths.

    As Brother William traces to the bone of the mystery that seamlessly entangles the relationships and the paths overlapped the victims, it becomes perspicuous that the possession and theft of a banned book from the abbey library has led to deaths of scholars and monks in vein. The library, its promise, prestige, and prohibitions, incurs a strong hold on the monks and scholars who have sinfully coveted and hoped one day to violate all its secrets and gain access to the books.

    While the abbot sternly tightens the grip of library access and so to thwart falsehood and infidel knowledge from befalling into wrong hands, barred from such knowledge only inevitably creates in everyone an insatiable lust for such materials. The very knowledge that the abbey has accumulated is used as barter goods, cause for pride, and motive for boasting and prestige. It has been adumbrated that a monk, stirred by unquenchable desires for intellect, will even comply with carnal desire in order to satisfy the pursuit of intellect.

    The probe for truth sheds light as Brother William and our narrator indomitably ventures into the library, collects evidence, deciphers secret zodiac symbols and manuscripts, notes the library's subjects and arrangements, and thus cracks the labyrinth. Evolution of the librarian appointments at the abbey indubitably gives away the identity of the ultimate devil.

    The Name of the Rose deftly evokes the paradox of truth. As William's investigation takes an unexpected turn and sheds light on the truth, the very unbearable truth that the abbot refuses to recognize and confronts out of fear of besmirching the abbey's prestige, Eco obfuscates readers with the ghastly consequence and the toll of the obsession with truth. Does truth really set one free as the Bible claims, or does it come with a price?

    The Name of the Rose is a tale of a master's journey in unraveling a complicated knot at a sacred institution. Under the veneer of scholastic and immaculate surface is prurient desire for knowledge, covet for power, and scruple for sin against chastity. The interminable discourse on church history and heresy will be elucidated throughout the novel (so don't be discouraged by the difficult prose), as relevant personalities will recount their involvement with heretics. It's an ingenious, fine piece of literature that challenges bright minds.


    Blogger Greg said...

    This is one of my favorite novels. The incredibly detailed description of the library alone is stunning. And, for a period mystery, vey entertaining and engrossing. I'm not a big fan of the movie, though.

    3/03/2006 11:17 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I'm reading something similar in the backdrop of Egypt - The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips.

    3/03/2006 12:11 PM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    I may have to check this out after I finish the Krakatoa book and the Encyclopedia of Serial Killers.

    3/03/2006 1:32 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3/03/2006 1:58 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I used to think about theology school just because I appreciate the life within the beautiful abbot! The Name of the Rose was a quick read for me though I constantly backtrek just to appreciate the prose and the delineation of the library.

    Encyclopedia of Serial Killers? is that a series?

    Guys, I help your help, I cannot nail my next reading selection as though I have a big pile of books on my nightstand. I think none of the books suit my mood at the moment, which is somewhat mystic. Any idea?

    It's time to scour the bookstore again...

    3/03/2006 2:06 PM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    Well, I am enjoying the Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. (Non-fiction about her getting through the grief of losing her husband and almost losing her daughter twice within a 6-month period.) A bit heavy, but very good reading.

    3/03/2006 4:20 PM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    I really want to read this sometime, but honestly I am a little afraid I will miss all the historical, religious, etc references! One of my art history professors *loved* this book, but her area was medieval, romanesque art and she happened to be an excellent mathematician (geometry) to boot. Since the woman is fairly brilliant, maybe that is what has always put me off. Have you ever read Mary Doria Russell? Try The Sparrow. Not really mystical, but it is religious--very thought provoking novel!! Another one I loaned out and never got back!!! blah.

    3/05/2006 4:31 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    I've got The Sparrow down so I down assign it to my vacation pile? Working on THE ACCIDENTAL, and ARTHUR AND GEORGE now and also studying LITERARY THEORY for teaching.

    You've gotta keep track of what you loaned out to people. Maybe put a bookplate to remind them it really belongs to you and not to them?! :o)

    3/06/2006 2:44 PM  

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