In my first blog entry more than two weeks ago, I promised to talk about my love for adventure books – more precisely, for those called “mystery books”.
In my book “Flirting over a Cup of Coffee” (this is the third book of the cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”), in the chapter “The ticking of the clock” I write, “On weekends, Paul used to read out loud “Name of the Rose “book given to me by Dima, while I was lying on the bed with my eyes fixed on the opposite wall”.
Indeed, my discovery of Umberto Eco’s book “Name of the Rose” (“Il nome della rosa”) happened a long time ago. At that time, the movie of the same name by Jean Jacques Annaud was released.
Umberto Eco probably studied medieval treatises quite diligently in order to construct the image of William of Baskerville, who has a ready-made answer to everything and who has a way with words.
I remember I was extremely interested in why the book was named exactly that way – “Name of the Rose”? But it seems that a suitable ancient quote to answer this question has been found: “Rose as the previous name, having naked names henceforth.”
Some time later, I bought a book by the same interesting Italian author – “Foucault’s Pendulum” issued by the Kiev publishing house “Fita” with an unspecified name of the translator from Italian to Russian. It’s important that perhaps this very famous book marked the beginning of an era of fascination with the mysterious world of Templars history. Today, almost no novel in the style of an intellectual detective is complete without mentioning of this powerful order of the Templars and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
For many years it was quite comfortable for me to live in the world, somewhere in the corner of which Umberto Eco lives. And I completely missed the sad media reports that this professor of semiotics of Bologna University died because of the cancer in February 2016. 🙁
Not lomg ago, while reading Voltaire’s Candide, I learned contemporaries called Voltaire simply “Philosopher” with a capital letter, and I remembered the similar honorable nickname Aristotle had in the Middle Ages. And then I again remembered the novel “The Name of the Rose”, in which much plot was built around the “secret” works of Aristotle.
There, the action takes place in the Italian Benedictine monastery in 1327. The entire detective story is construcred by the author around one book of Aristotle, banned by the Catholic Church. This book of Umberto Eco describes the kind of complicated way people of the Middle Ages could learn about the works of Aristotle.
“The staircase is over. Turning again, we entered the scriptorium from the north tower, and I cried out in admiration … The brightest places were given to antiqarians, the best miniaturists, columnists and scribes. The librarian introduced us to the workers. Malachi spoke about each of what he was working on, and I enthusiastically found in all them the deepest devotion to science and knowledge of the word of God.
…So we met Venantius of Salvemeks, a translator from Greek and Arabic, an adherent of the very Aristotle, who undoubtedly was and will be the wisest of men.
…Venantius said that even Aristotle speaks of jokes and word games as means of the best knowledge of truths and that, therefore, laughter cannot be a bad deed if it promotes the revelation of truths. But Horhe objected that, as far as he remembers, Aristotle writes about this subject in his book on Poetics as applied only to metaphors. And besides, there are two alarming circumstances. The first is that the book on Poetics, which remained – apparently, by the command of God – for so many centuries unknown to the Christian world, has come to us through the hands of unfaithful Moors … ”
“But she was translated into Latin by one of the friends of the angelic doctor Aquinas,” Wilhelm interrupted.
“So I said the same thing,” replied Bentz, instantly perked up. “I am poorly versed in Greek, and I was able to familiarize myself with this book precisely in the translation of Guilelmus Moerbekensis.”
We may learn from smart books that Guilelmus Moerbekensis is catholic archbishop, translator of scientific texts from Greek directly to latin language. He made the first translations of almost all the works of Aristotle, and before him translations of Aristotle into Latin were made from Arabic.
It was Tommaso d’Aquino (called above “angelic doctor Aquinas”) who inspired Guillelmus de Moerbeke to translate the corpus of Aristotelian writings to Latin and used the results of translation in his comments.
And quite recently, when I accidentally forgot my password from Amazon, I remembered the Umberto Eco book “Foucault’s Pendulum” and remembered Kozobon cracking the password from Belbo’s computer:
“The machine behaved indifferently, it knew that a password was required, and, not receiving the password, it was bored. But at the same time, it seemed to be prompting:” That’s it! What interests you, I have here, in my belly, but only no matter how hard you are sweating, old mole, you still don’t know anything. ”
It was most natural to take the Italian transcription of JEHOVAH as a basis. Six letters is already seven hundred and twenty permutations. Of these, he could use thirty-sixth or one hundred and twentieth for the password.
… But since I was still drunk, I moved up to the computer again and typed SOPHIA. The machine politely asked, “Do you know the password?” Stupid machine, you don’t even care about the thought of Lorenz.
… This time, from hatred of Abulafia, to his stupid harassment – “Do you have a key word?” – I barked: “No.”
The screen shuddered and began to fill with letters, lines, lists, and an abyss of words poured out.
I hacked Abulafia.”
(written in 1988)
So, I liked the genre of action-packed novels, in which some mystery in the past in the past casts its shadow in the present.
Then I read several books by Arturo Perez-Reverte, who was called “Spanish Umberto Eco” by literary critics in book annotations. Some of his novels were screened by Hollywood studios- for example, The Ninth Gate by Roman Polanski.
Just in the book “Club Dumas or Shadow of Richelieu”, on which the film “The Ninth Gate” is based, I saw a kind of curtsey towards Umberto Eco, made by mentioning a very curious character among the members of the secret society of the Club Dumas.
Below I want to give you one quote. The story is narrated on behalf of the literary critic and specialist in the work of Alexander Dumas Boris Balkan.
I raised the candelabrum higher, and we moved down the corridor in the style of Louis XIII …
“The castle is very old, it is full of legends”, I began to explain …
“But still what are you doing here? The time is clearly inappropriate for excursions”.
“Once a year an exception is made,” I explained. “After all, Meng is a special place. It is not in every city that the action of a novel like “The Three Musketeers” begin.
We stopped in front of a locked door. Muffled sounds came from behind her – music and human voices. I put the candelabrum on the console.
“Now let me introduce you,” I said, opening the door, “the members of the Dumas Club.
Some faces were well known to him – from the press, cinema, television.
“Are you surprised?” I asked, trying to determine by his appearance what effect all this had on him.
I even introduced him to some of the guests, and did so with a kind of wicked pleasure, because he responded to greetings with embarrassment, clearly feeling out of place.
“Let me introduce you to Mister Corso … Look there … You recognized him, right? .. Professor of semiotics from Bologna … Now a blonde lady is talking to him, this is Petra Neustadt, the most influential literary critic in Central Europe …”
Here is my own old rhymeless poem written in Russian in 2006, dedicated to Corso, the protagonist of the Dumas Club:
The Missing Link
And now you are to find the missing link.
You’ll ask enormous fish about it,
So big that she exceeds the size of island.
And passing through the wilds of virgin woods
You’ll find an ancient chest under a palm tree
That indicated by the cross on map.
You’ll threaten with the magic sword to dragon
That watching all the time to guard the chest.
And you will learn the password from the beggar,
After you hearty open him your soul.
You’ll bring your customer the part of the mosaic.
The bolts are locked and there is no exit.
He’ll take it with his trembling hands, delighted.
Within the bounds of the vicious circle
Not able to go out, he will stand.
And in the cherished language he will mutter
The incantations by a strange changed voice.
A fire will happen and the house will burn …
He’ll meet any disaster, laughing crazy.
A deaf-mute woman’ll knock over a candle
Upon her lonely bed before the dawn.
In one of my next posts, I will write my thoughts on the novels of Dan Brown.