Monday, June 05, 2006

I don't know what it is about The Name of the Rose, but it's not the same Eco from The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. His writing is fluid, precise and difficult, but it's making for a fairly tedious book. I don't read with a dictionary at hand and I seldom, if ever, refer to a dictionary when I'm done with a book. If I don't know what the word means, then I don't want to know or I like to think the author didn't want us to know, therefore it's not integral to the novel. Eco surely doesn't expect his readers to know all the Latin he uses in Name of the Rose and I couldn't imagine looking up the words. Instead, it's all a matter of the words flowing and speaking of the novel in the scientific, ancient way in which they're spoken by the monks. I like that. But Eco has taken it too far. It's a long novel and it's being dragged down with the Latin terms and sayings. And I know it's much more than a mystery, but there seems to be too much going on. I feel like young Adso following brilliant William, but not necessarily knowing what he's speaking about. Not a fun way to spend your spare time.

I'm halfway through and should finish it this week, but Eco is not making me want to finish it and that I have a problem with. Saramago, who I somehow keep comparing Eco to, never tries to make his readers feel inferior. Eco, is coming off as being smarter-than-thou. And if I was smarter now, I'd drop the book for a more enjoyable read, but a quitter I'm not. At least not yet.

Eco said it perfectly himself: Graecum est, non legitur
It is Greek to me

9 comments:

Martha said...

I have a cavalier approach to reading books like The Name of the Rose-- I liked it because I just skipped over the Latin parts and didn't worry about what they meant! I know it's not scholarly, but it sure helps with enjoyment. I did the same with all the tedious (to me) poems in Possession, and enjoyed it a lot more as a result, although I'm sure I missed many a clue. Then again, I'm a quitter when I don't have fun, so I admire your persistence.

Danielle said...

This is exactly why I am reluctant to read this. One of my Art History teachers was (is--she still teaches here) this really intelligent, knowledgeable, erudite person. Along with all the art history she was so competent at she also excelled in mathematics and geometry. I remember her talking about the Eco book and how she loved it, as it was such a wonderful reflection of the times. This made me think I would never get it! I still bought it and will try and attempt it. I do know there is a sort of companion book that is available that gives the translations to the latin and other foreign terms. Of course that makes for clunky reading--especially if this is supposed to be for entertainment purposes!

Dorothy W. said...

This book WAS difficult -- I remember a lot of moments of impatience when I read it, and I know I didn't do a good job of keeping all the details straight. It was a lot of work!

sfp said...

I finished the book feeling very inadequate and resolved that I'd study history a bit more before attempting it again (I did like it well enough to want to read it again).

I've forgotten most of my high school Latin, but I didn't feel it necessary to translate all of it anyway. I'm a lazy reader. :)

M. Barresi said...

I'm easing my way through the book. Taking baby steps now. I began reading Julian Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot as a diversion. Though an intellectual game, Flaubert's Parrot seems to be just the remedy for Eco's history of religion.

Stefanie said...

I read the book a long time ago so my memories of the particular are vague but I do remember liking it very much. I don't know any latin so I just skipped through all that and didn't worry about it. Even though I enjoyed the book I still felt at the end that I somehow missed something important.

M. Barresi said...

I have to admit, I'm beginning to put the book aside in favor of other things, especially Julian Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot which is funnier than I thought it would be.

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