The Name of the Rose!
Back in 1986, a certain new “detective movie” came out of nowhere. A certain, dramatically new “Sherlock Holmes.” The plot unlike any other – “The year is 1327. Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
Sean Connery had a taste for making classic movies and I never missed one of his films to check them out. The “Name of the Rose” was no disappointment and it immersed and carried me for quite a unique ride. The entire film was inspiring, engaging and refreshing, turning the mystery formula, the detective formula upside down and inside out!
But the next puzzle for me was, while leaving the theater – “WHO wrote this book?” It was the 1980s and it took a trip to the library to find out. It was…Umberto Eco, an Italian medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, cultural critic, political and social commentator, and novelist. The Name of the Rose, was his first novel, called “watershed” in 1980. Within a few months I read the Rose and within the years I followed his books. The novels however diverse, were dense. I slogged through “The Island of the Day Before,” and “Foucault’s Pendulum,” “Baudolino,” “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana,” He stuck with five novels. None of the other novels equaled the “Rose.” But throughout the decades up until his death, came a never ending series of unique, thought-provoking, non-fiction, critique books, taking on all aspects of history and culture. Very clever. Very good.
Umberto Eco died aged 84, in 2016. His Guardian obituary read “he was a polymath of towering cleverness. His novels, which occasionally had the look and feel of encyclopedias, combined cultural influences ranging from TS Eliot to the Charlie Brown comic-strips. Linguistically technical, they were at once impishly humorous and robustly intellectual.”
As a novel writer and a veteran reviewer, he had simple ideas on writing fiction. How to Write Creative Fiction: Umberto Eco’s Four Rules https://fs.blog/2021/05/creative-fiction-umberto-eco/
Eco, the obituary tells much more https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/20/umberto-eco-obituary
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com