The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980)Read about another entry on the list.
This dazzling first novel has brilliant plotting and witty in-jokes (its hero – played by Sean Connery in the film version – is William of Baskerville in a nod to the great detective), combined with a profound understanding of medieval intellectual history. How might medieval – and, indeed, our own culture – have been different if Aristotle’s lost second book of the Poetics, exploring the importance of comedy, had survived? Vividly explaining the primary political and theological questions of the 13th century, the novel finds a kind of sequel in Baudolino (2000), but it’s this one that I regularly reread.
The Name of the Rose is on Jeff Somers's list of ten books you should finally have read in 2015, S. J. Parris's list of five favorite historical murder mysteries, Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, John Mullan's top ten list of the most memorable libraries in literature, Andy McSmith's top 10 list books of the 1980s, and Vanora Bennett's list of five favorite historical novels.