In illustrated, mini-book form: very brief, often pedantic musings--and explanations--by the author of the bestselling The Name of the Rose, a novel of medieval history, theology, and monastery-murder. Eco discusses the book's title: ""I liked it because the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left. . . . The title rightly disoriented the reader."" He recalls the novel's beginnings: his lifelong preoccupation with the Middle Ages; his initial impulse (""I felt like poisoning a monk""); the extensive research behind the construction of a full medieval world in the novel. He mentions two of his models (Ulysses, The Magic Mountain), some of his problems in writing (the ""changes of register"" between the rhetorical monologues and the plainer dialogue), some of the reasons for the novel's appeal to less sophisticated readers. (""They identified with the innocence of the narrator, and felt exonerated even when they did not understand everything."") And he concludes with a few remarks on postmodernism and the historical novel. Only for those who positively doted on The Name of the Rose: a handsome little stocking-stuffer from the intellectual boutique.