The Name of the Rose
by Umberto Eco
This delightful book, now a best-seller in Italy, is a detective story set in an Italian monastery in 1325. One monk after another is found dead in mysterious circumstances, until the mystery is resolved by a Franciscan friar, the Englishrnan William of Baskerville, seconded by his faithful Watson, Adso of Melk, who is also the narrator. The author, Umberto Eco, deserves to be taken seriously as a medievalist; he has published a study of the aesthetics of St Thomas Aquinas. He is of course much better known as a semiotician, and what he has done, in this brilliant tour de force, is to produce a work of fiction which exemplifies his own theories of literature and has at least as many meanings as medieval theologians found in the Bible – in other words, four.