The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – How old does a book need to be before it is classed a ‘classic’? The Name of the Rose was first published in 1980 in Italian and first published in English in 1983 there are those who will give it that meaningless title of ‘modern-day classic’ – a classic in my view has to be a book that has stood the test of time and I am not convinced that but one generation is a big enough test. All that being said I for one will not be surprised if future generations class it along with other modern-day best sellers as a classic.
It is 1327 and death prowls a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy which awaits the arrival of The Inquisition. William, a visiting Franciscan friar, with the help of Adso, a Benedictine novice, set about to investigate by invitation of the Abbot. A knowledge of the Bible, especially the book of Revelation, will no doubt help you with the story line as large chunks of it are quoted and referred to. Also a familiarity with the rule of monastic life and Latin will possibly make the book flow more easily, I am not sure how disjointed the book might have seemed had I not known which psalm or canticle was being quoted, what the Latin phrase thrown in actually meant, what time of day Lauds or Prime was. However, the mysteries of the abbey are unravelled and by the end of the book I am sure such things will be of no account, although you will some of the word play. On Eco’s website – which I visited to see what else he has written, and discovered there is a film of the book with Sean Connery – it states:
The book is an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory.
Logic, new maths, apothecary and other things of the world are used to solve the out-of-bounds labyrinthine library. Is laughter heretical? Is life too precious, too important to take anything but seriously? Are carnal thoughts that different from perfect love, love of sin, love of death? And just where is the boundary between madness and religious fervour?
If you are a fan of the ecclesiastical whodunnit then this is a must! As for Eco I can’t wait to read something else of his and have this feeling he will become one of my favorite authors.
Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers – It was actually a dramatisation from Radio 4 on cd I listened to, but as it is a book I’ve included it here. This is one of Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries set in the beautiful Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. Of course it doesn’t take long before a body appears and the question of whether the death was accidental or not raises its head. Six suspects, five of them red herrings, to discover just which one killed the painter is Wimsey’s aim. A charming enough way to while away a few hours witty and evocative of the era (the music between scenes probably adds to that, although I did find the frequency of it to be somewhat annoying as were the fake Scottish accents).
The Return Journey and Other Stories by Maeve Binchy – Not going to mention all 14 just the ones I enjoyed. Package Tour – Moya and Joe plan a holiday and have very different ideas about what is needed for a 2 week holiday and discover before it’s too late what is in it rainbows have gone and glitter dimmed. Victor and St Valentine – poor Victor a 38 year old electrian who just can’t seem to get it right or can he?
You have now caught up with my listening so this stream of posts will end with this one and in future I will simply note if it is a book I have read or listened to – although it will probably still be a while before the former is it case.