The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco – Quick Book Summary



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“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.”

– Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose


This summary provides an in-depth look into Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, offering a comprehensive analysis of its intriguing characters, complex plot, thought-provoking themes, and rich literary devices. It serves as a quick yet insightful guide for those seeking to understand the essence and intellectual depth of this celebrated post-modern novel.

Book Information:

Title: The Name of the Rose
Author: Umberto Eco
Genre: Historical Mystery, Post-Modern Literature
Publication Year: 1980

Brief Overview:

The novel, set in a 14th-century monastery, is a complex murder mystery that involves labyrinthine libraries, heretical texts, and a monk-detective.


Author’s Background:

Umberto Eco was an Italian philosopher, literary critic, and novelist known for weaving intricate plots with profound philosophical and semiotic concepts.

Publication Context:

As Eco’s debut novel, ‘The Name of the Rose’ brought his scholarly pursuits into mainstream literature, significantly influencing post-modern fiction.

Character Summary

Main Characters:

The monk-detective William of Baskerville and his apprentice Adso serve as the main characters.

Character Development:

William, using his sharp reasoning and vast knowledge, unravels the monastery’s secrets, while Adso matures from a naive novice to a seasoned observer.

Plot Summary


‘The Name of the Rose’ chronicles seven days in a wealthy Italian abbey where mysterious deaths occur, leading William and Adso into an intellectual labyrinth to uncover the truth.


The story is set in the eerie confines of a 14th-century Benedictine monastery in Italy.

Themes and Motifs

Key Themes:

The novel explores themes such as the pursuit of knowledge, religious dogma vs. intellectual freedom, and the interpretation of signs and symbols.

Motifs and Symbols:

The labyrinthine library symbolizes the complexity of knowledge and truth, while the forbidden book represents the power and danger of forbidden knowledge.

Takeaway Morals


The novel suggests a cautionary tale about the corrupting power of absolute dogma and the importance of intellectual freedom.


This warning remains relevant today in debates over freedom of information and the influence of religious or ideological dogma in society.


Literary Devices:

Eco employs metafiction, irony, and extensive intertextuality in this complex narrative.

Style and Tone:

The novel is characterized by its dense and scholarly prose, rich with historical and philosophical references.

Critical Reception

Initial Reception:

Despite its complexity, the book was an unexpected bestseller and received acclaim for its intellectual depth and intricate narrative.

Current Standing:

The novel is considered a cornerstone of postmodern literature and continues to inspire academic discourse and popular interest.

Personal Response

Personal Opinion:

Ever wondered if Sherlock Holmes was a monk? ‘The Name of the Rose’ is your answer! A brainy whodunit that’s sure to leave your mind buzzing like a bee in a library. It’s heavy on the intellect but hey, who doesn’t love a bit of mental gymnastics now and then?


If you enjoy history, philosophy, or have ever fantasized about becoming a medieval detective, then this book is a must-read.

About the Author


Umberto Eco (1932-2016) was an Italian novelist, literary critic, philosopher, and semiotician who greatly influenced contemporary literature.

Literary Career:

Besides ‘The Name of the Rose’, Eco wrote numerous other novels, essays, and academic texts, including ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ and ‘On Ugliness’.

Book Details

Publication Details:

Originally published in 1980 by Bompiani in Italian, the English translation was published in 1983 by Harcourt.

Structural Details:

‘The Name of the Rose’ spans 512 pages, divided into seven days, each with distinct liturgical periods.



‘The Name of the Rose’ is a philosophically charged, historical mystery by Umberto Eco, presenting a rich tapestry of medieval life, intellectual debate, and suspense.

Final Thoughts:

With its intricate plot and thought-provoking themes, ‘The Name of the Rose’ offers an intellectually rewarding journey to both mystery lovers and students of literature.

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