Library or Labyrinth?

medievalfragments

By Irene O’Daly

A book that has probably done more than any other to introduce people (including myself) to the world of the medieval library is Umberto Eco’s masterpiece The Name of the Rose. Published in 1980, it was translated into English in 1983, and made into a film starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater in 1986.  A book about books, The Name of the Rose, is a story set in an early fourteenth-century monastery where secrets are currency, and knowledge is a weapon as well as a tool.  Essentially a murder mystery, the narrative moves between the primary buildings of the medieval monastery: the Chapter house, the library [aedificium], the cloister and the Church, as well as its more practical outbuildings: the pigsties and the smithy.

U. Eco, Map of the Monastery, The Name of the Rose U. Eco, Map of the Monastery, The Name of the Rose. Library/aedificium indicated in red.

The monastery depicted…

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