Saturday, April 09, 2016

My Reading Life: The Name of the Rose (Eco)

The Name of the Rose started out slowly.  I'm not a swift reader, and this one would take some time -- long sentences, some over 2/3s of a page long with more than 100 words -- and more erudite than I usually read. His descriptions are well-crafted and thoughtful. 

I lost momentum about halfway through. I was more interested in the threads of solving the murders than the long erudite detours which seemed to become more frequent and caused my eyes to glaze. 

However, I did mark several lines that I favor and emphasized them below.

"When our eyes had finally grown accustomed to the gloom, the silent speech of the carved stone, accessible as it immediately was to the gaze and the imagination of anyone (for images are the literature of the layman), dazzled my eyes and plunged me into a vision that even today my tongue can hardly describe."  Here, the carvings of the church facade was described. My mind's eye recalled my overwhelming smallness when I first saw in person the intricate detailed portal of the cathedral of Notre Dame.

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"The list could surely go on, and there is nothing more wonderful than a list, instrument of wondrous hypotyposis." Two things in this line:  First, a list. Yes, lists. I love lists. I keep lists. And lists of lists. They are my daily map that keeps me going. So when I read this line, I nearly shouted with joyful surprise.  And second, the word hypotyposis. I have no particular fondness with or association at all with the word (although it snaps around in your mouth as its pronounced); it was completely new to me. But it was the first word from the book I actually wrote down and tried to look up in my bedside electronic dictionary (which did not contain it). It was the first word of many that I had never, ever heard of and began to wonder "Is it a real word?" After so many reading interruptions to write down words, I stopped; there were just too many I did not know. But here are a few starters and their meanings.

hypotyposis - lifelike description of a thing or scene

palimpsest - a document, such as a page from a manuscript written on parchment, that had been rubbed smooth so it could be used again, with traces of the original writing showing through

spoor - the trail left by a person or an animal 

 cicatrize - to form a scar after an injury

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

"I woke when it was almost tolling the hour for the evening meal. I felt dull and somnolent, for daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh: the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time."  Though I love an occasional Sunday afternoon nap, I wake feeling exactly like that description. 

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

And this last quote about the protagonist from the early pages perfectly sums up my take-away from entire the book: ". . . William . . . was too much of a philosopher for my adolescent mind."

1 comment:

Carol in Oregon said...

Oh, the nap quote needs to go into my commonplace book. It perfectly describes what I think. Sometimes on a Sunday in the winter, a nap is enticing, but I *know* I will feel worse when I awake.

I read this book with one of my advanced students of literature. We did a chapter a week. The slow pace and the buddy system really helped.