Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 2

To find the centre of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (translated by William Weaver), I have to begin by counting the pages of the first prologue which precedes the second prologue. The first one appears to be a kind of introduction by the author, an account of how Eco came to write this story. But he’s shrewd; the first prologue is all fiction, just like the rest of the story.  Added to the pages of the story, (pp. 3 – 493), the total number in my edition is about 498, making the centre a sub-title page, “Fourth Day”.  But I turn the page and find the spot where the young monk, the narrator, starts to feel certain his fellow monks are not simply dying one by one, they are being murdered.  A coincidence is revealed at this halfway point, leading the reader to guess why the monks in this wealthy Italian monastery are being permanently silenced.

“The other day I observed Venantius’s hands, when the blood had been washed off, and I noticed a detail to which I attached little importance. The tips of two fingers of Venantius’s right hand were dark, as if blackened by some dark substance. Exactly – you see? – like two fingertips of Berengar now. In fact, here we have a trace also on the third finger. At the time I thought that Venantius had handled some inks in the scriptorium. . . . “

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