Eco, Dickens, who else?

Paul Andinach pandinac at
Mon Feb 10 03:20:17 EST 2003

On Sun, 9 Feb 2003, Ian W. Riddell wrote:

> I adored "The Name of the Rose". I read it in my second year of
> college while I was taking a Latin course and relished in being
> able to translate the Latin quotes - which, from what I remember,
> is what you have to do to figure out the title of the book (my
> memory may be very faulty, it's been a while!).

No, you're right - there's a Latin passage at the end of the book that
ties in the title. Which, of course, means that I still don't know
what the title refers to, because I don't know Latin.  :/

(Fairly high on my list of websites I'll create one day (if I ever
have time, and nobody is kind enough to save me the effort by beating
me to it) is a website providing translations for all the forrin bits
in stories that have frustrated me because the writers cheerfully
assumed that I wouldn't need any help reading them. The Latin bits in
_The Name of the Rose_ will be there, of course. Ditto the Latin tags
from the relevant Sherlock Holmes stories. And all those bits in
_Busman's Honeymoon_ in French. And...)

Incidentally, do you know why Eco called it _The Name of the Rose_?
It's to stop people forming preconceptions about the book before
they've actually read it. If he'd called it, say, _Murder in the
Monastery_, everyone would immediately form a mental picture of what
the book is like, and a lot of people would avoid it for reasons that
didn't actually apply (or read it and then blame the author because it
wasn't what they expected). "The Name of the Rose", however, could
mean any one of so many different things that preconceptive apparatus
is paralysed with indecision, and the reader is forced to take the
book on its own merits.

> "Foucault's Pendulum" on the other hand, I didn't quite finish. I
> mean that literally. I read it until I was about 30 or 40 pages
> from the end and decided that I just didn't care and that I'd
> wasted enough time on it already. So I put it down. I may go back
> to it someday.

I never completed _Foucault's Pendulum_, either, but I'm not likely
ever to go back to it. I have no motivation, you see, because I *did*
finish it. I just didn't middle it.

"Hold fast to the one noble thing."

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