Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Il Nome della Rosa / Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

I have finally finished reading this book. I've tried reading it in Italian together with English, but after a while I've only read the Italian version. My first impression was that publicists do more than just print books. There were several passages that were missing from the English translation, for example. I also felt that they were related in that they were more aggressive against the idea of the Church. Although I can't say for sure.

I also had difficulty reading the book after seeing the movie. I've heard a lot of people describing the movie as a pale imitation of the book. Bullshit! The movie was great: the adaptation, the casting, the music, the directing. The only thing lacking from the movie was the political dimension, the battle between religious factions and the description of the political situation of the time. Which is a lot, but is not really relevant to the idea of the book.

So, if you have seen the movie, you might find it difficult to read the book. If you haven't yet, I suggest you read the book and certainly watch the movie afterwards. There is a certain magic when Sean Connery's accent overlaps with Ennio Morricone's music :)

Anyway, the book describes not only the murders and the process of finding the killer, but also a world where books are copied by hand by people who can speak Latin and Greek, but not the vernacular, the language of the people, then they are hidden in great libraries with access restricted by religion. A time where the inquisition's main purpose is to get rid of troublesome Christian cults with their own interpretation of religion, gathering momentum and followers just like a political party would. A world where the Pope and the Emperor have great powers and fight each other using any means necessary. A period when the universities are slowly replacing the abbeys as places of learning.

All in all it is a good book. I don't think the Italian language brought a lot more to the book. I was quite satisfied with the English translation and there isn't much word play in the original text. There are some passages where the author seems unable to stop listing items, making them tedious, but overall the style is easy to follow and the logic good. The end moral is that the pursuit of knowledge is more important that the knowledge itself and that evil lurks even in the most holly of hearts.