Narrator of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose

I once reviewed Eco’s Baudalino for another blog and found its attempt at postmodern humour. I think Eco does much better when he’s being more serious, and there’s no better example of that than his classic medieval mystery story The Name of the Rose. I have recently started reading this again for my own research – see the Roger Draper project. I found it interesting how he uses a narrator who was actually present during the events to tell the story. This has a number of advantages, the character of the narrator is emotionally involved in the story and can give a vivid description of what happens, while also allowing the reader to get an insight into the medieval mind. However, by making the narrator a minor character and not one of the principles, it allows Eco to provide commentary on characters such as William of Baskerville and maintain some mystery about their thoughts and motives. As a reader therefore our respect for William’s deductions are enhanced. A bit like the way Conan Doyle used Watson to narrate the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Something worth bearing in mind perhaps for my own Roger Draper book. Who would be the narrator though – the bungline Roger, who is baffled by the intuition and deduction of his lowly sidekick Jake? Could be…

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