Adso of Melk Quotes in The Name of the Rose
I concluded that Adso’s memoirs appropriately share the nature of the events he narrates: shrouded in many, shadowy mysteries, beginning with the identity of the author and ending with the abbey’s location, about which Adso is stubbornly, scrupulously silent.
On sober reflection, I find few reasons for publishing my Italian version of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth-century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German monk toward the end of the fourteenth century.
Michael of Cesena […] proclaimed as a matter of faith and doctrine the poverty of Christ. A worth resolution, meant to safeguard the virtue and purity of the order, it highly displeased the Pope, who perhaps discerned in it a principle that would jeopardize the very claims that he, as head of the church, had made, denying the empire the right to elect bishops, and asserting on the contrary that the papal throne had the right to invest the emperor.
“My good Adso,” my master said, “during our whole journey I have been teaching you to recognize the evidence through which the world speaks to us like a great book.”
There, I said to myself, are the reasons for the silence and the darkness that surround the library: it is the preserve of learning but can maintain this learning unsullied only if it prevents its reaching anyone at all, even the monks themselves. Learning is not like a coin, which remains physically whole even through the most infamous transactions; it is, rather like a very handsome dress, which is worn out through use and ostentation. Is not a book like that, in fact? Its pages crumble, its ink and gold turn dull, if too many hands touch it.
I did not understand then why the men of the church and of the secular arm were so violent against people who wanted to live in poverty […]. And I spoke of this with a man standing near me, for I could not keep silent any more. He smiled mockingly and said to me that a monk who practices poverty sets a bad example for the populace, for then they cannot accept monks who do not practice it.
“But then,” I said, “what is the use of hiding books, if from the books not hidden you can arrive at the concealed ones?”
“Over the centuries it is no use at all. In a space of years or days it has some use. You see, in fact, how bewildered we are.”
“And is a library then, an instrument not for distributing the truth
but for delaying its appearance?" I asked, dumbfounded.
“This area called LEONES contains the books that the creators of the library considered books of falsehood. What's over there?”
“They're in Latin, but from the Arabic. Aryub al-Ruhawi, a treatise on canine hydrophobia. And this is a book of treasures. And this is De aspectibus of Alhazen...”
“You see, among monsters and falsehoods they have also placed works of science from which Christians have much to learn.”
What Bernard wanted was clear. Without the slightest interest in knowing who had killed the other monks, he wanted only to show that Remigio somehow shared the ideas propounded by the Emperor's theologians. And once he had shown the connection between those ideas […] and had shown that one man in that abbey subscribed to all those heresies and had been the author of many crimes, he would thus have dealt a truly mortal blow to his adversaries.
The library had been doomed by its own impenetrability, by the mystery that protected it, by its few entrances. The church, maternally open to all in the hour of prayer, was open to all in the hour of succor. But there was no more water, or at least very little could be found stored, and the wells supplied it with a parsimony that did not correspond to the urgency of the need.
Mine was a poor harvest, but I spent a whole day reaping it, as if from those disiecta membra of the library a message might reach me. […] At the end of my patient reconstruction, I had before me a kind of lesser library a symbol of the greater, vanished one: a library made up of fragments, quotations, unfinished sentences, amputated stumps of books.