In the Name of the Rose is a dense, disturbing, and difficult book, but I recommend that you read it anyway. It took me two goes to get all the way through, both because the material is so upsetting and because the writing is so long-winded in some sections. This book simultaneously bored and possessed me, which is a first.
Although the Amazon reviews describe this book as a murder-mystery with a historical background, it’s more a historical novel with a murder mystery added for illustration. The concepts of life, death, and the afterlife are central to the tale, so the convenience of characters occasionally dying off and constantly fearing for their life was apparently too good to pass up.
But enough about that, let’s talk about humor and poverty, The levity and wealth controversy is arguably the main plot to the story. How much humor is allowed before one becomes frivolous and irreverent? How much wealth is allowed before one becomes greedy? Is it alright to joke about the Devil? Is it alright live in relative luxury? Should we all live hand-to-mouth and be constantly serious?
What is the path to our higher calling? Is there a place for mirth and money in the Church?