Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Name of the Rose

Reading The Name of the Rose, exactly a year ago, was the icing on my Christmas cake!
It all happened quite randomly, and the result was as pleasing as it was totally unexpected.

As you probably know, a major motion picture was made after Umberto Eco's novel, starring Sean Connery and directed by Jean Jacques Annaud.
For years I regretted seeing the movie when I hadn't read Eco's novel yet. Then, last year, I decided that the book would be my Christmas present. And what a present it turned out to be!

Watching the movie before did not spoil the read at all. It rather made the experience more complete. The movie only contained the bare plot. While this had to be sacrificed, it did not present all the philosophical, metaphysical, moral, alchemical, and religious depth contained in the novel, which I could then enjoy anew.
William of Baskerville inevitably assumed the charming looks of 56-year old Sean Connery. Jean Jacques Annaud provided the amazing landscapes, the thick Northern Italian fogs shrouding a monastery built in stone, the Alpine mountain peaks cupped with snow, and the grave, dimly lit devotional mood of the story.
Besides, in that period last year, I discovered Loreena McKennit's music.
Incredible: her at times Celtic, at times folk sounds were the perfect soundtrack for the novel.
Then, it snowed.

For two weeks I read ever so eagerly in the warmth of my mother's kitchen, savoring each and every sentence at the light of an old abat-jour. A cup of hot, usually black, tea on the table, and Loreena McKennit's music played low in the background accompanied me through the journey.
The snow made it all the more real and magical at the same time.

Yet, the image of the wise and learned Franciscan friar William of Baskerville, musing through Sean Connery's reassuringly lifted eyebrow, was the dearest picture of all. One that made me wish - oh so much - that I could find a mentor, a guide, and a father like William of Baskerville, to take me, one day, under his wing.



  1. Hi Jay,
    I know how you felt. I saw the movie first, back in the 80s. And four years ago, a student of mine gave me this book as a gift. Amazing!
    Regarding Loreena McKennitt, she's great. My favorite album is, "The Book of Secrets", so much so that one of my short stories is around one of her songs. I discovered her music when I lived in DC back in 1998. ;) I usually play this CD when I am writing my stories: great inspiration.

  2. Claudia,
    All I can say is "wow". Is that just coincidence?
    My favorite Loreena album is "The Mask and Mirror", but I love "The Book of Secrets" too.

  3. Hello Jay!! Wow, my first actor! :-) But seriously! I saw the film first before I read the book and you will hate me for saying that I was looking for the film in the book while I was reading it and that completely clouded my enjoyment! But then again this was over 20 years ago now and I was young and stupid and impatient! So maybe I ought to re-read the book again!

    Take care

  4. Old Kitty,
    I don't hate you at all! I was also inevitably comparing the movie with the novel while I was reading! In my case, it wouldn't have been the same without Sean Connery!

  5. Isn't it wonderful when a good book can erase all space and time and it is only you and those words which you can't seem to read fast enough? As a reader, I always look forward to reading those tales that make me forget everything and just focus on the story being told. Good literature does that. I like your blog. Will follow.

  6. Thanks, Jay; it’s always nice to find a kindred spirit. You make me want to reread The Name of the Rose immediately—under exactly the circumstances you describe. Have you watched any Cadfael? He has some of the same fatherly (or brotherly) wisdom as William of Baskerville, and is perhaps Derek Jacobi’s most amiable role.

  7. Rebecca,
    It is wonderful indeed! There's no better cure than a book to dive in and spend some time in your own private wonderland!
    Thanks for following me Rebecca. I'm following you too!

    I'm so happy my post gave you a bit of inspiration. No, I haven't watched Cadfael, but since you're suggesting, I definitely will. Hopefully, William's not jealous!

  8. This description of your reading experience with this book makes me want to read The Name of the Rose...now! McKennit's music aside, my mother's kitchen is a haven for me too. This book would be great for my I Love Italy Reading Challenge.

  9. Laura,
    Then go for it!
    Here's the recipe:
    Get Loreena McKennit's music from "The Mask and Mirror" and "Parallel Dreams", find some pictures from the Sean Connery movie, and lock yourself in your mother's kitchen!! Ah, and read the book before the winter's over ;)
    I'd be glad to exchange views on it once you're done :)
    Happy reading!