A Semblance of Order

A Semblance of Order

from the Vastemonde

The library defends itself, immeasurable as the truth it houses, deceitful as the falsehood it preserves

The Abbot to William of Baskerville

Somewhere Umberto Eco tells that David Lodge wrote an excellent introduction to The Name of the Rose. I found this introduction and it's a big spoiler, but what it highlights might resonate with game referees.

In spite of all the correspondences, however, The Name of the Rose deviates from the formula of the Sherlock Holmes stories and their successors in several crucial respects. The classic detective story affirms the victory of good over evil, reason over passion, law and order over anarchy; a state of harmony and civility which was ruptured by a violent act is healed and restored to normality by the skill and dedication of the detective-hero.

The Name of the Rose has no such consoling conclusion. Although William unmasks the man behind the deaths, the old blind monk Jorge, the latter is not surprised, but sets up their final confrontation in a way that enables him to escape arrest. Furthermore William's intervention brings about the destruction of one of the greatest libraries in Christendom, including a unique work of Aristotle's long assumed to have been lost, a catastrophe that causes the scholarly William to weep.

And when Adso tries to console him by saying that he has defeated Jorge 'because you exposed his plot', William replies, 'There was no plot... and I discovered it by mistake.' He had supposed there was one murderer, when in fact each crime was committed by a different person, albeit manipulated by Jorge; he had formed the theory that the murderer was consciously imitating the prophecies of the Last Days in the Apocalypse, whereas Jorge actually derived this idea from William himself and then used it to justify his own actions.

'Where is all my wisdom, then?' asks William. 'I behaved stubbornly, pursuing a semblance of order, when I should have known well that there is no order in the universe.' This is a conclusion that is as heretical in the world of the detective story as it would have been in a medieval monastery.

David Lodge