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The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose is a 1980 novel by Umberto Eco about a murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327. The book was also made into a film starring Sean Connery as the intrepid Franciscan monk, William of Baskerville. Along with his apprentice Adso of Melk (Christian Slater), William journeys to an abbey where a murder has been committed. As the plot unfolds, several other people mysteriously die. Our heroes explore a medieval library, the subversive power of laughter and come face to face with the Inquisition.

His sidekick Adso's name is among other things a pun on Simplicio from Galileo Galilei's Dialogue; Adso = ad Simplicio. William of Baskerville on the other alludes both to Sherlock Holmes and William of Ockham

On one level the book is an excellent exposition of the scientific method. William demonstrates the power of deductive reasoning. He refuses to accept the diagnosis of simple demonic possession despite the fact that at that time demonology was the ruling scientific paradigm. He keeps an open mind, collecting facts and observations, following even pure intuition as to what he should investigate. It also demonstrates the crucial importance of chance in any investigative endeavour. Nevertheless, he could not have solved the cases if he had not prepared properly a framework of facts and interconnections, which the chance discovery then made meaningful.

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