The Name of the Rose (book review)

Life is way too short to be wasted on mediocre books. The problem is shortlisting the ones that are extraordinary. That’s what I figured when I joined book groups.

Aishwarya Sampath mentioned this book sometime back and then Edathua Teejay endorsed in a comment so I put it up on my list. My deepest gratitude to you both for this gift.

It has kept me blissfully awake the past few days.
Questions of rationalism, free-thought, the scientific method and the biggest holy cow of all – religion. What happens when we look at rationalism from the perspective of a monk? Can we frame even one sentence, where religious dogma and the scientific method, coexist in peace? And yet the father of modern genetics was a monk (Gregor Mendel).

When the arena of the clash between reason and religion is a library, peeps like me feel the book was written just for us. ‘Theophany’, a word I learnt from this book, that’s what it felt like.
If God herself had chosen to manifest to me last week, she would have felt quite ignored, busy as I was with this spectacular book.

//….You know that, although very learned, he is not a man to appreciate the library. He considers it a secular lure…..For the most part he stays in church, meditating, praying….//

I’m always in favour of succumbing to ‘secular lures’, or libraries instead of brainclogging dead ends of dogma.

//….I must believe that my proposition works, because I learned it by experience, but to believe it I must assume there are universal laws. Yet I cannot speak of them, because the very concept that universal laws and an established order exist would imply that God is their prisoner…//

Is physics God? What a breathtaking takedown of intelligent design! The protagonists’ dear friend William of Occam would have approved.

When the detective confronts the killer, this is how the narrator describes the encounter.

//I realised, with a shudder, that at this moment these two men, arrayed in a mortal conflict, were admiring each other, as if each had acted only to win the other’s applause…..
……the act of seduction going on before my eyes at that moment….each of the two interlocutors making, as it were, mysterious appointments with the other, each secretly aspiring to the other’s approbation, each fearing and hating the other.//

Reason is suspended, because the prey and predator are too busy admiring each other, not yet aware who has won the game and who has lost. The reader alone knows because evil cannot win.

The translator has done a job par excellence. May we all be blessed with such books that make our insomnia worthwhile.


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