Monday, August 18, 2014

Case Study No. 1515: Malachia, Berenger, and Jorge de Borgos

A Medival Library
Tags: Middle Age Name Rose monks library
Added: 6 years ago
From: solix61
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[scene opens with William of Baskerville and his apprentice Adso entering the scriptorium, as Malachia (the abbey's librarian) quickly locks a door upon hearing their approach]
WILLIAM: Ah, brother librarian. Perhaps you will permit us to examine the work of the two unfortunates that were so distressingly gathered unto God ...
MALACHIA: Your request is most unusual.
WILLIAM: As are the circumstances of their deaths.
[Malachia looks him over with disdain, then leads them towards one of the empty tables (situated amongst the monastic scribes copying manuscripts at their own desks)]
MALACHIA: Brother Adelmo sat there.
WILLIAM: Thank you.
[Berenger (the abbey's assistant librarian) looks on from the background, as William takes out his reading glasses to examine the illustrated manuscript on the desk]
[cut to a closeup of one of the monks, who whispers to his neighbor in Latin]
MONK 1: [translated] "Eyes of glass in twin hoops!"
[cut back to William (who stares at him through his thick glasses), causing the monk to hide behind his table ... he then returns his attention to the manuscript, describing the various images he sees to Adso]
WILLIAM: A donkey teaching the scriptures to the bishops ... Huh, the Pope is a fox. The abbot is a monkey. He really had a daring talent for comic images.
[the scene is suddenly disturbed as Berenger jumps up on a table and screams like a little girl at the sight of a mouse, causing the monks to burst out laughing ... however, their mirth is quickly cut short as an old blind man enters the room, smashing a clay pot with his cane and screaming in Latin]
JORGE DE BORGOS: [translated] A monk should not laugh! Only the fool lifts up his voice in laughter!
[Malachia takes the arm of the former librarian (in order to steady him), as he calmly addresses William in English]
JORGE DE BORGOS: I trust my words did not offend you, Brother William, but I heard a person's laughing at laughable things. You Franciscans, however, belong to an order where merriment is viewed with indulgence.
WILLIAM: Yes, it's true ... Saint Francis was much disposed to laughter.
[the old man gets an angry look on his face]
JORGE DE BORGOS: Laughter is a devillish wind, which deforms the lineaments of the face and makes men look like monkeys!
[William looks at the old man calmly (suppressing a smile)]
WILLIAM: Monkeys do not laugh. Laughter is particular to man.
JORGE DE BORGOS: As is sin! Christ never laughed ...
[he starts to walk away]
WILLIAM: Can we be so sure?
JORGE DE BORGOS: There is nothing in the Scriptures to say that he did!
WILLIAM: And there's nothing in the Scriptures to say that he did not ... Why, even the saints have been known to employ comedy, to ridicule the enemies of the faith. For example, when the pagans plunged Saint Maurus into the boiling water, he complained that his bath was too cold. The Sultan put his hand in, and scalded himself!
JORGE DE BORGOS: A saint immersed in boiling water does not play childish tricks! He restrains his cries and suffers for the truth!
WILLIAM: And yet, Aristotle devoted his second book of Poetics to comedy, as an instrument of truth ...
JORGE DE BORGOS: You have read this work?
WILLIAM: No, of course not. It's been lost for many centuries.
JORGE DE BORGOS: No it has not! It was never written! Because Providence doesn't want futile things glorified!
WILLIAM: Oh, that I must contest. I really--
[he bangs his cane on the floor]
JORGE DE BORGOS: Eh, enough! This abbey is overshadowed by grief! Yet you would intrude on our sorrow with idle banter!
[William bows his head]
WILLIAM: Forgive me, Venerable Jorge. My remarks were truly out of place.
[Malachia leads Jorge out of the room, as William turns and addresses one of the monks]
WILLIAM: Which was the Greek translator's desk?
[the monk points off camera]
MONK 2: This one.
[William and Adso walks towards the desk, but Berenger quickly beats them to it and loudly slams a pile of books onto it]
WILLIAM: Come, Adso ...
[they walk away without argument]




Annaud, Jean-Jacques (Director). The Name of the Rose. France: France 3 Cinema, 1986.

Starring: Volker Prechtel (Malachia, Head Librarian); Sean Connery (William of Baskerville); Christian Slater (Adso of Melk)

Original Title: Le nom de la rose

Based on the Novel: Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. NY: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1984. [Note the librarian's name in the book is Malachi; that he is not Italian is an important fact.]

Access to knowledge is obstructed at every turn in this secluded medieval monastery where the library catalog lists books chronologically as acquired over the centuries (the librarians memorize it). Only the librarian and his assistant have access to the Aedificium's forbidden third floor. The library entrances are hidden or guarded, the floorplan is a labyrinth laced with booby traps, the classification system is a mystery, the signage incomprehensible, and death is literally by-the-book. Knowledge is dangerous and a threat to those who would turn their backs on God. Both in concept and setting, the library is the core of this storyline and an excellent metaphor for nearly everything academics choose it to be. But read the book to understand Eco's world of knowledge interruptus (which research shows might be the literary interpretation of Eco's personal frustrations with libraries and librarians).



The story takes place over the course of seven days in Northern Italy, during the early 14th Century A.D. Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his Benedictine novice Adso of Melk (narrating as an old man) arrive at a Benedictine abbey where a mysterious death has occurred ahead of an important theological Church conference. William, known for his deductive and analytic mind, confronts the worried Abbot and gains permission to investigate the death of Adelmo, a young illuminator whose battered body was found underneath a tower window that cannot be opened. The abbott, Abo, communicates that the Benedictine monks of the abbey, unable to explain the circumstances of his death, are afraid that Adelmo was killed by the Devil. William soon deduces that Adelmo hurled himself out of a different window, and his body rolled down an incline, coming to rest beneath the window that could not open. The greater question was why Adelmo committed suicide.

The following day, the monks discover the body of Venantius, a Greek translator, suspended upside down in a vat of pig's blood. Venantius has a black stain on his right index finger and his tongue. William and Adso discover footprints in the snow leading to the vat, indicating that an unknown person carried Venantius away from the library and to the vat of pig's blood. William correctly deduces that this person was trying to divert attention from the fact that Venantius actually died in the library. William and Adso visit the library and try to look at Venantius's desk, but are stymied by Berenger, the assistant librarian who is known within the abbey to be a homosexual. They return that night and look at Venantius's desk. William finds notes in Greek from a book that Venantius was reading. Also on the parchment with these notes are secret instructions written in lemon juice, so they are invisible until heat is applied. The notes appear to be directions to something, but William cannot determine to what. Unknown to William and Adso, Berenger had returned to the library the same night to retrieve a book from Venantius's desk. Berenger creates a distraction, grabs the book (before William can look at it), and flees into the night. The following day, Berenger's body is found drowned in a vat of water. Like Venantius, he has a blackened finger and tongue.

William and Adso meet with the abbott to inform him of their investigations and conclusions. First, Adelmo learned about a book written in Greek hidden in the library that was forbidden from general use. Berenger, as the assistant librarian, gave Adelmo instructions about how to find the book in exchange for sexual favors. The instructions were enciphered on the parchment found on Venantius's desk in lemon juice. Adelmo was distraught after allowing Berenger to molest him. On his way to kill himself, he stumbled upon his friend, Venantius, and told Venantius about the forbidden book and gave him the parchment with instructions. Adelmo then killed himself. Meanwhile, Venantius got into the library and found the hidden book. He took it back to his desk and started to read it and take notes, but then died. Berenger found Venantius and dragged him to the vat in order to divert suspicion from himself and from the library. Berenger then stole the book while William was looking for it and tried to read it. He too was overcame with great pain and tried to take a soothing bath, but drowned. William tells the abbott that all three monks died trying to acquire a forbidden book written in Greek. The abbott learns that the Inquisition is coming to the abbey with the papal delegation and instructs William to cease his inquiries.

Undeterred, William and Adso discover a secret passage into the library and begin to explore it. They quickly realize it is not only an imposing library with many rare books, but is also structured as a labyrinthe, constructed on multiple levels in the abbey's forbidden principal tower. William is astonished to find that it is "one of the finest libraries in all Christendom", containing dozens of works by Classical masters such as Aristotle, thought to have been lost for centuries. William deduces that the library is kept hidden because such advanced knowledge, coming from pagan philosophers, is difficult to reconcile with Christianity. It becomes clear that the only remaining copy of Aristotle's Second Book of Poetics is somehow related to the deaths. William deduces that the book in Greek taken by Venantius from the library is Aristotle's book on Comedy.

While the debate and Inquisiatorial trial go on, William's investigations continue. Severinus, the abbey's herbalist and William's friend, finds the book in Greek, which was hidden by Berenger when he came to the herborium to take the bath that killed him. Severinus tells this to William, but is overheard by Malachia, the abbey's librarian. Malachia, under instructions from an unknown person, goes to the herborium and kills Severinus, bringing the death toll to four dead monks.

The next day, Malachia dies and is found with a blackened finger and tongue, bringing the death toll to five dead monks. William and Adso ascend the forbidden library, and come face to face with the Jorge de Borgos (Feodor Chaliapin, Jr.), the most ancient denizen of the abbey, and the former librarian. Throughout the film, Jorge and William engaged in intellectual debate about whether comedy and laughter should be banned by the church. In the final scene, Jorge explains that Aristotle's Second Book of Poetics, dedicated to comedy, would be disastorous because it might encourage learned men to laugh and jest. Jorge believes that laughter extinguishes fear of the Devil, without which there is no need for God. Believing laughter and jocularity to be instruments of the Devil, Jorge has poisoned the pages of the book with arsenic so anyone reading it would ingest the poison as they licked their fingers to aid in turning pages. Jorge, who is blind, gives the book to William, confident that the poison will kill him too. Unknown to Jorge is the fact that William (who correctly deduced that the black stain found on the finger and tongue of Venantius, Berenger, and Malachia came from touching poison) is wearing a glove. When he tells Jorge that the book will not kill him, Jorge throws over a candle, starting a blaze that quickly engulfs the library. William insists that Adso flee, as he manages to collect an inadequate armload of invaluable books to save; the volume of Poetics, Jorge, and the rest of the library are lost.



[William and Adso are searching under the abbey for a secret route to the library]
William of Baskerville: Those are the foundations of the tower. But how to reach the library?
[Adso screams when he sees a rat]
William of Baskerville: The rats love parchment even more than scholars do. Let's follow him ...
[they discover the secret entrance to the library]
William of Baskerville: 166. Bolted scriptorium door. 167, 168, 169, 170. ... 317, 318.... I knew it! Adso, I knew it! Adso, do you realize we're in one of the greatest libraries in the whole of Christendom?
[William shouts for joy]
Adso of Melk: How are we going to find the book we're looking for?
William of Baskerville: In time ... "The Beatus of Liebana". That, Adso, is a masterpiece. And this is the version annotated by Umberto de Bologna! How many more rooms? How many more books? No one should be forbidden to consult these books.
Adso of Melk: Perhaps they are thought to be too precious, too fragile.
William of Baskerville: No, it's not that, Adso. It's because they often contain a wisdom that is different from ours, and ideas that could encourage us to doubt the infallibility of the word of God.
[William has wandered off and Adso has become lost]
Adso of Melk: Master?
William of Baskerville: And doubt, Adso, is the enemy of faith.
Adso of Melk: Master? Master! Master, wait for me!
William of Baskerville: But I am waiting for you.
Adso of Melk: But I can hear you walking.
William of Baskerville: I'm not walking, Adso. I'm down here.
Adso of Melk: Is that you up there?
William of Baskerville: Where are you, boy?
Adso of Melk: I'm lost!
William of Baskerville: Well, Adso, it would appear that we're in a labyrinth. Are you still there?
Adso of Melk: Yes. How do we get out?
William of Baskerville: With some difficulty ... if it all. You see, Adso, that is the charm of a labyrinth. Adso, stay calm. Open a book, and read aloud. Leave the room you're in, keep turning left.
Adso of Melk: "Love does not originate as an illness but is transformed into it when it becomes obsessive thoughts. The Muslim theologian Ahmed Hasim states that the lovesick person does not want to be healed and that his amorous daydreams cause irregular breathing and quicken the pulse. He identifies amorous melancholia with lycanthropy, a disease that induces wolf-like behavior in its victims. The lover's outward appearance begins to change. Soon his eyesight fails, his lips shrivel, and his face becomes covered with pustules and scabs. Marks resembling the bites of a dog appear on his face, and he ends his days by prowling graveyards... at night, like a wolf."
[he stops and sees a man at the end of the hallway]
Adso of Melk: Master, I can see a lantern!
William of Baskerville: Don't move. Stay where you are.
Adso of Melk: I can see a man. He stopped.
William of Baskerville: What is he doing?
Adso of Melk: He's raising his lantern.
William of Baskerville: How many times?
Adso of Melk: Three times.
William of Baskerville: It is I. Raise your lantern.

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