Is a novel by Umberto Eco, set in the early 14th century of our current era. In it, he writes of the theological disputes of the time with the pope living in Avignon and other disputes in the secular arm of things.
The two themes that are carried to the end of the novel attempt to answer two questions, did Jesus and by extension, the first apostles preach poverty? Did they own property? The second question is whether Jesus laughed? On these two questions, lie all the disputes in the novel.
The disagreements between the pope and the Fransciscans, Minorites and all the others introduced by Eco depend really on the intepretation of poverty that one adopts. The simple people who follow Fra Dolcino and others like him believe in poverty. They loot not to own but to have in common.
On the other end, that is, in the Abbey, life depends on the question of whether Jesus laughed. Any pursuit of this knowledge becomes, literally, a matter of life and death. Jorges through his various ploys kills or is an accomplice in the deaths that occur in the abbey within the duration of 7 days that our narrator was there.
Inquisitors like Bishop Benard Qui can only be appeased when someone dies at the stake. His commitment to truth leaves no room for doubt. He would kill an innocent person if it served his end arguing that god would recognize his own. Jorges kills so people can remain ignorant.
Alinardo is ignored because everyone believes his ramblings are those of a bitter old man. Maybe Abo’s life would have been spared or the monks like Malachi too, had he been taken seriously. But maybethe fate of the library was sealed from the time Bro William was assigned the task of investigating the death of Adelmo.
Why did temporal power allow itself to be involved in the inquisition which was really a dispute between the churches? Why allow the bishops to keep their hands clean in a matter that was entirely a doctrinal dispute?
What is it of relics that there always seems to be a person claiming to have one? And the more absurd it is, the higher it is valued?
If you are looking for holiday reading, this is a good one.