Hollywood Detectives. "The Name of the Rose"

Essay, 2002

6 Pages, Grade: 1 (A)


When on 16th of August in 1968 Umberto Eco encountered a book by some Abbé Vallet[1] he had found the plot for his first novel, which was to become a bestseller. Thus the novel, when published in 1980, had an immense impact on the reader, who could choose from a large apparatus of secondary literature immediately after the appearance of the Eco’s novel.

Although it seems that the novel is far to rich for any classification – it can be read as a detective novel as well as a philosophical paper, or as a historical novel as well as a work on semiotics – Eco probably has started a new genre, which has become a real boom. In almost any bookstore of today we are able to choose from murder mysteries a là Conan Doyle that take place in ancient Egypt or classic Rome, in the dark Medievals or in industrial 19th century.

The genre of the historic crime novel not only includes the typical traits of a historic plot with appropriate settings within the time scheme of the era, but also the genius of an almost non failing detective figure[2] that is accompanied by a student, or assistant who has to be taught the merits of logical thinking and abduction,[3] thus abduction is central in the methods of Baskerville, who then becomes related to Holmes, the most famous fictional detective. Another quite obvious “proof” for classification might be the title “Name of the Rose,” which conveys the impression of a historic title. The film even plays with this, when it names itself as a palimpsest of Eco’s novel.

Soon after the novel had made his successful race on the book market, the very success of it looked suitable for turning the book into a motion picture. However, this time it was not a Hollywood Studio that finally could put this project into reality, but European producers and the French director Jean-Jacques Annaud were making this film.

The story seems to be simple enough, however the levels of the narrative are not. When the English Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his novice Adson of Melk arrive in the Benedictine monastery in northern Italy the film does portrait a harsh medieval world without any modern romantic euphemism that normally occur in films of this era. This is even more so, when we are introduced to all the different people that live in this monastery. Every room seems to be filled with a weird collection of the human species, which displays also a variety of human failures. There is the moonfaced library assistant, the greedy librarian, the crippled Dolcineaner. Also we are introduced to the population later on, a population whose members seem to have more in common with animals than with humans, however we learn later on that these people have more humanity in themselves as the class, which the monks belong to. The girl[4] belongs to this class, and still she is compared to the virgin Mary, in a reference by Ubertin of Cassale: “Schön nämlich sind die Brüste, die ein wenig hervortreten[…]”[5]


[1] N.o.t.R. p7.

[2] Königs Erläuterungen. p5.

[3] „[Read Peirce’s Collected Papers, in which Charles S. Peirce calls abduction] ‚the first stage of the process of reasoning and interpretation.’[…] In seinen ‚Vorlesungen über Pragmatismus’ aus dem Jahre 1903 definiert Charles S. Peirce Abduktion als ‚Prozess, eine erklärende Hypothese zu bilden.[...and more:] Die überraschende Tatsache C wird beobachtet; aber wenn A wahr wäre, würde C eine Selbstverständlichkeit sein; folglich besteht Grund zu vermuten, dass A wahr ist.“ Wirth. P1,3.

[4] The title also can be understood as a reference to this girl and its role in depicting the sexual morals of the time. In a way she has been emancipated, since she just took what she had wanted, without caring about her situation of hunger and poverty. She chose Adson without letting him pay. Adson and this girl are the achetypes of Romeo and Juliet.

[5] Motion Picture, in about 12-15 min, 1st meeting of Ubertin and William.

Excerpt out of 6 pages


Hollywood Detectives. "The Name of the Rose"
Dresden Technical University  (American Studies)
Hollywood Detectives
1 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
371 KB
Name, Rose, Hollywood, Detectives
Quote paper
Markus Nowatzki (Author), 2002, Hollywood Detectives. "The Name of the Rose", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/15018


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