Best Quotes from Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose

atkins bookshelf quotationsItalian writer, literary critic, and philosopher Umberto Eco died on February 19, 2016 at the age of 84. The author of more than 50 books, he is best known for his debut novel, The Name of the Rose (Il Nome Della Rosa) published in 1980. The novel, set in 1327, is a brilliant historical and intellectual murder mystery that takes place in a monastery that features a bibliophile’s dream: a vast labyrinthine library. Below are some notable quotes from Eco’s Name of the Rose.

What is love? There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss.

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.

We live for books.

There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.

A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks.

Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.

The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.

There is only one thing that arouses animals more than pleasure, and that is pain. Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but towards hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him.

Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.

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The Name of the Rose (Paperback)
The Name of the Rose (Everyman Library Edition)
The Key to The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose (Blu-ray DVD)

Read related posts: Why Reading is Critical to the Writer
Why Read Dickens?
The Power of Literature
The Benefits of Reading
50 Books That Will Change Your Life
The Books that Shaped America
The Books that Most People Begin Reading but Don’t Finish

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