Why is “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco often regarded as postmodern?

The only somewhat plausible explanation (yet I’m still quite sure that it is not correct) I’ve managed to come up with is the following: Despite the looks of it, the role of the Benedictines is not to represent the traditional appeal towards philosophy, but the materialistic one, which was significantly developed in Modern philosophy, which makes William of Baskerville (who concentrates on intellectual and spiritual development) a sort of sceptic towards historical materialism, i.e. a Postmodern character.

How far is that explanation from the truth and what is the commonly regarded as satisfactory one?

  • I share your problem and will be interested in the answers you receive. Great story-teller but his endings are annoyingly weak and I wonder whether the lack of resolution is a feature that qualifies as 'post-modern'. . . . . . .
    – user20253
    Jan 15, 2020 at 11:46
  • Who says it is often regarded as "postmodern"? And does this mean the same as "postmodernist"? Mar 27 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


A quick précis. Very generally it is a book orbiting around a fictional book — a common enough device, but in this case the fictional book is a secret, a lost book in philosophy; said to contain missing elements or volumes of the poetics, it harbors the secret of “levity” that philosophy had lost: a sort of bright ember that would flourish into the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

It is in this way staging a kind of parody, of philosophy in the old and boring style, which has forgotten to laugh. The book works hard to reintroduce to fiction some genuinely contemporary theoretical themes about the lived and affective dimensions of philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and comedy (maybe dramaturgy more generally.) It sort of reminds me of The Good Place. There is a Nietzschean resonance in particular in the idea of a joyous laughter that shakes loose all the symbols from their fixed meanings; Eco himself is a semiotician.

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