What books available in 1327 do you thin would help you understand The Name of the Rose?
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Part of the beauty of this text is the way that it is dependent upon so many other books for its meaning, both in the way that Eco includes various allusions to more modern texts and characters through the naming of his characters (note for example William of Baskerville, which is a clear allusion to Sherlock Holmes), but also the way in which contemporary texts are so important to the novel as a whole as well. The importance of the library is of course central to the novel, and it is the possession, ownership and access to texts that lie behind the mystery of the murders and the eventual destruction of the abbey as a whole.
One contemporary text that is particularly interesting to read alongside this novel is Bernard's Manual for Inquisitors, entitled the Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis. This is important because Eco clearly drew from this and used sections from it in his own novel. This is clearly indicated in the following dialogue:
"What do you believe?"
"What do you believe, my Lord?"
"I believe in all that the Creed teaches."
"So I believe, My Lord"
This conversation is used by Bernard to point out the ways in which heretics can manipulate and deceive, as in this case, Remigius is not saying that he believes in the Creed, but he is only saying that he believes Bernard believes in the Creed, using the slippery nature of words and their meaning to obscure his true beliefs. The use of Bernard's text and the way that he lifts these lines and includes them in his own work shows the importance of texts constantly relating to other texts to Eco as an author, and indicates how the study of contemporary texts at the time can help readers to understand this rich work more fully.
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