Missing Eco: On reading The Name of the Rose as library criticism

Jeffrey Garrett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


While many outside the library community have commented at length on the central role of the library in Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose (Milan, 1980; New York, 1983), librarians themselves have been notably silent. This reserve is surprising when one considers the vast and intricate library dystopia which Eco has created for his novel, the casting of a librarian as archvillain, and the use of a library book as this villain's principal murder weapon. Beyond these matters of setting and casting, however, close examination of Eco's imaginary library and its literary antecedents, but also of Eco's yet untranslated essay "De Bibliotheca" (1981), will reveal the author's use of the library metaphor to be anything but casual. It is instead an image charged with meaning, both within the context of postmodern literary theory and as an element of Eco's own agenda for real-existing libraries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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