Friday, December 2, 2011

Project Proposal

For my final project, I wanted to revisit a mystery novel that I read a while back which for some reason stuck in my head as a more powerful story than any other book I read. “The Name of the Rose”, by Eco Umberto, is a murder mystery novel published in 1980 that tells a story of murders that were committed in relation to a book. It is solved at the end that these murders were committed by a blind librarian by the name of Jorge Borges who wants to keep the secret of a book that is believed to be a “cipher and perfect compendium of all the rest: some librarian has perused it, and it is analogous to a god” (Borges 85). I would like to do a research paper on the influence that Jorge Borges and his “The Library of Babel” had on “The Name of the Rose” and also the relations between the two books to the Tower of babel in the “Genesis”.



- State the argument that is to be defended in the paper

- Summarize the 2 new works of literature being used in the paper

- Give a brief description of the influences cause by Jorge Borges himself as well as by his book on the writing of “The Name of the Rose”

- Give a brief description of how languages and books are interconnected with the Tower of Babel and God from “Genesis” and slight connections to “The City of Glass”

Body Paragraph 1:

- Describe the meaning and the similarity in the structure of the library

o Hexagonal shape

o Labyrinthine structure

- Describe how the library is related to the universe and its ordering corresponding to the orientation and literary content of the known world map then

Body paragraph 2:

- How Jorge Borges’ own life influenced the character of the blind librarian, ‘Jorge Borges’, in the novel.

- Describe the importance of the book and its significance

o Said in Jorges’ “The library of Babel” that a specific book exists that is a compilation of the knowledge of all else and ones who read it are in the same level as God

o How this “knowledge” is the downfall of many people in “The name of the rose”

Body Paragraph 3:

- How the final burning of the library with its knowledge that is said to make a God out of a man is related to the destruction of the Tower of babel to keep man from reaching the status of God

- Languages being lost

o As God confounded the languages of the people during the destruction of the Tower of Babel, the ancient languages are lost with the burning of the library

o How “The city of Glass” relates the experiment in it to the primary language before the Tower of Babel and how certain languages, their history and their connections to the modern languages that can be found in only some rare books in that particular library are lost forever.


- Summarize the overall concept of the argument

- Conclude by restating the initial thesis


1) Auster, Paul. The New York Trilogy: City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

2) Borges, Jorge Luis, Erik Desmazières, Andrew Hurley, and Angela Giral. The Library of Babel. Boston: David R. Godine, 2000. Print.

3) Crumb, R., and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. Print.

4) Eco, Umberto, and William Weaver. The Name of the Rose. New York: Everyman's Library, 2006. Print.


  1. It is difficult for me to really evaluate or thoroughly comment on your proposal considering I have not read "The Name of the Rose", and therefore have no knowledge of its relation to what we have done in class. However, that in itself presents an issue because your entire 2nd Body Paragraph is regarding this book that can only be connected to our class by, as you state in the Introduction, "slight connections."

    I think you have a well-organized essay here, but perhaps you should reevaluate the ratio of material we spent time on in class to extracurricular material you're using for comparison. That is, I'm not dismissing your use of this book, but how you use it is crucial to your essay.

    Finally, I do like your focus on the Babel concept, using Genesis and City of Glass. I think there's a lot to be done there.

  2. The elephant in the room: there's no argument here at this point. Borges influenced Eco, and there is an element of biblical influence (perhaps including Babel) that's worth exploring here. But that exploration *needs* to generate a coherent argument.

    That being said, what you say in the following paragraphs, relating the library of Babel to the tower of Babel to Eco shows that you are thinking of the right questions. But it also shows that you're getting bogged down in details. You shouldn't be thinking about what your paragraphs will look like until you have an argument: only a real, functioning argument can begin to give you a working structure of paragraphs.

    I am on board with an essay that reads Eco (or Eco and Borges) through an understanding of the story of Babel which is rooted in our work in this class, which I think is what you're doing. But this is not yet a functioning proposal, because it doesn't contain a functioning argument. A comparison, or a set of parallels, is not an argument: you need to show us a *reading* or interpretation of Eco which has value (that is, isn't trivial), presumably one which is indebted in some way to Alter/Crumb/Auster/Mazuchelli's exploration of the Babel story.