Thursday, January 25, 2007

"May the Lord grant me the grace to be the transparent witness of the happenings that took place in the abbey whose name it is only right and pious now to omit..."

I like the premise of an author finding a lost manuscript. I’ve always found those sort of books interesting. Eco does a good job at pulling his reader in, giving plausible explanations of what happened to the manuscript: a break with his “beloved,” who took off with it in her haste to get away from him. It is here in this explanatory portion that the “pseudo” author writes this fabulous, sure to be quoted for ages gem: “there are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement that produce visions of people known in the past. As I have learned later from the delightful little book of Abbe` de Bocquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.” Beautiful, it’s enough to make every author, and hopeful author sigh and nod their collective heads in agreement.

The text of the manuscript is written by Adso of Melk (Christian Slater’s character) (named after the Benedictine abbey Stift Melk). He is old and now wishes to write the story down. As a young boy he enters the brotherhood and becomes a novice to William of Baskerville (a reference to Holmes in case you didn’t know). William has been sent to investigate a murder at an abbey. Here is a great description of William through the eyes of Adso,

“Brother William’s physical appearance was at that time such as to attract the attention of the most inattentive observer. His height surpassed that of a normal man and he was so thin that he seemed still taller. His eyes were sharp and penetrating; his thin and slightly beaky nose gave his countenance the expression of a man on the lookout, save in certain moments of sluggishness of which I shall speak. His chin also denoted a firm will, though the long face covered in freckles-could occasionally express hesitation and puzzlement.”

No wonder they choose Sean to play him. I’m not really much further in the book. It’s on loan so I’d better get cracking on it. I might take Sunday and read a bit.

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