The Name Of The Rose

Compares & contrasts the film & novel versions of Umberto Eco’s THE NAME OF THE ROSE. Finds the novel to be complex & intellectually compelling, elements which the film version lacks.

The Name Of The Rose is Umberto Eco’s first novel and it was originally published in 1980. Prior to writing this text, Eco was already a well-known and respected intellectual and writer. In his native Italy, Eco played an important part in academic, cultural and political debates for more than two decades. Among academics he was also known as a literary critic and semiotician. (Atkins et al.) According to Eco, semiotics is both a general theory and an analytical tool. With semiotics, Eco believes that all things can be understood. What semiotics does is to regard all cultural expressions as messages in a communication process. It was semiotics that actually made it possible for (Eco) to talk about different phenomena in a homogeneous way, and to make his different studies of medieval aesthetics and popular culture, of modernist literature and television programs meet and enrich each other. (Ridless et al.) Umberto Eco speaks of social life as a sign system.. This system consists of a mechanism of cross-referencing between symbols (signs, things which name and stand for other things) and existents (the objects which are singled out and designated by particular signs). The first part of the system is called by Eco the expression plane; the second, the content plane. The correlation of elements from either side constitutes a sign function. The latter is determined by the code of a language. A code is the individual performance of an underlying competence. It is the not a collectively conscious practice of language users of substituting signifying items with their sanctified replacements, their meaning or signified. The empirical success of communication is what allows us to infer the existence of a community of language users (code sharers). This community is based on universally internalized linguistic laws or constants, which the individual draws messages from, according to a rule-governed creativity. It should be specified, too, that a sign does not have to be verbal. What makes semiotics (the study of signs) valuable to aesthetic theory is that it comprehends under language any structured interrelation between an expression and a content (a signifier and signified). Music, painting, gesture are all languages (sign systems) according to this theory. (Ridless et al.)

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