The detective plotline is simply the engine that drives the story.
You are making a mistake. The Detective story is a genre, which has a set conventions. You can certaintly have a murder story without having a detective story (like Crime and Punishment) but that is not what Eco tried to do.
It only does not work if you expect a tight and fast detective novel.
No, Bleak House works too. But it will work on Father Brown stories. There is a structure, fast paced, slow paced, shortl , long, I didnt mention any of those because they are not a problem.
So it's simply about the expectation you have. It doesn't work for you and you didn't like it? That's fine but it does not mean that he failed and that it didn't work.
For me? I gave you the reason why it does not work, I didnt said a word about liking or not. You cannot make a critical analyse of any book resuming to "I like" or "i dislike". There is sort of a critical concensus that the book has those problems, that the structure was broken by the excessive display of knowledge Eco used. In this very thread Mo just complained about it. It is not "me".
On a side note, all Joyce is a journey through the history of literature? Take his work Dubliners, all these short stories work on their own with no references, allusions and intertextuality with the history of literature.
It would suffice to say that Joyce major works, those who better describe him, are filled with allusions and intertextuality and that you decided to use the exception as a rule, but Dubliners does not have them?
Heck, the work is filled with Freud, there is mentions to euclids, a character which motivation comes from a quote to Robert Browning, proverbs everywhere, the whole building a city from the portrait of the citzens is Dickensian strategy, popular irish literature and to not say it is me, let me quote a passage from a thesis from Nebraska University named "Allusive Mechanics in Modern and Postmodern Fiction As Suggested by James Joyce in His Novel Dubliners" :
"The allusions to Shakespeare occur throughout “The Dead,” from direct reference to echo to subtext. Taken individually, each potential intertexual experience may or may not be effective, but taken en masse they create a referential environment that would be hard to miss. And Gabriel Conroy is a well-read figure. He likes to read, as evidenced by the report that “The books he received for review were almost more welcome than the paltry cheque” (188); by the report of his familiarity with Homer, Browning, and Shakespeare (192); and by the fact that he is a professor at the University (188). The most obvious place to begin when highlighting a Shakespearean idiom is with clearly stated references. Shakespeare is quoted by name early on:"
Sorry, but overall, Joyce entire aesthetics is born from his desire to re-organize the past literature, you will not find a work where he is breaking the past and using in his own work as a form to reorganize and fullfil history. Dubliners may be far from the radical experiments of Ulysses or Finnegans Wake, but he is "testing" his hand already there.
The differences are huge. Dan Brown wrote his books in a very simple and accessible way. They were written for the masses and the paperback market. They are not literary experiments in any way. The Name of the Rose is the exact opposite of that.
That is extremelly superficial and Eco came to the point he said he invented Dan Brown, so big the similarities are. And there will be many that will say "Eco" experiments are not so radical and he is a comemrcial writer that was taking guys like Borges, Joyce, Mallarme to the masses. Of course, this is something sensible as he never did something as hermetic as The Name of the Rose afterwards, the allusions and references are easier just enough to make people feel they are sailing into the realm of "High Brow" culture, something that Eco super status as academic generated. But he is a pop author, not the other way around.
Of course, he writes better than Dan Brown, but this does not make any similarity disapear.
So how thin are Eco's layers? They are the exact opposite of thin. They are not only anything but thin but appear in overwhelming numbers concerning antiquity, medieval times, history of art, intertextuality (to texts like the Bible or Bocaccio's Il Decamerone) , allusions to even the likes of Angelus Silesus or Meister Eckhart amongst many many others, to the history of literature, linguistic experiments leaning towards Genette, postmodernism and paratextual experiments. The list could go on and on.
Sorry, both those are not "Layers", those are just information that we know Umbero Eco have (nobody is denying this. The guy was one of the greatest intellectuals of the last half of century). Layers are how all this combines in the text to create interpretations possibilities. For example, the idea in The Name of the Rose is how the missing work of Aristotle shapped the medieval philosophy, because they couldnt make references to this work. The idea that a book can have an impact even if not read. Or that the concensus about a work belongs to a few intellectuals.
Nice, but Medieval aesthetics is highly visual. It is funny how the defender of medieval aesthetics is blind, so he does not represent this age at all (we all know it is a homage to borges and truly, Burgos concerns are modern and that is when the Detective Novel enters in conflict with the rest of the name of the rose and how this takes this "Layer" to a thin end).
It was Eco's intention that the complexity of all those layers would overwhelm the reader but that the force that would keep the people reading would be the rhetorical proslepsis and paralipsis which means that the narrator would slowly give the reader the necessary information at the right times that would help him find his way through this "mess" of layers as you guys like to call it. If you are interested in it, you can read Eco's postscript of the work.
I am not going to buy a postscritp. I would just point to you how this helps my argument. Eco needed a post script to guide the writer for a detective story. It is not a 2,3 pages line that explain the mistery it is more "here, i will give a class about the topics i use so you guys can have a reference because apparently this was so excessive that kept the reader away from the story". Eco is cleaning his mess.
Now, you can write a text where you make references to dante, shakespeare, crowley, vigo, swendeborg, malba tahan, egyptian book of dead and bollywood. You may add more topics. You are adding complexity and this may overwhelm the writer, just like reading several topics at once will do. Information causes it. But this imply the novel had "deep" layers? Dan Brown fills his novels with references to several topics, does it make his layers deep? No, in either case. There is a mess of information in the Name of the Rose, not so much of layers, mostly because all this information is in conflict with the genre of the novel which damage the capacity of the novel to provoke the reader's interation (which implies his interpretation). That is why the novel is a "failure", it is about the work as a whole, not about me.
Anyone who reads Eco works on aesthetics and semiotics knows how far from showing his deep knowledge The Name of the Rose is.
I don't see a necessity to compare these works at all. And the part about William of Baskerville... he is not a copy of Sherlock but an obvious allusion to him. He may not work as a character as well for you if you insist on reading the book as a detective novel but as I said, that is not what this book is about.
That is the problem, he is a sherlock and that is all he managed to be. There is no difference between him and and Sherlock (the tv series). They basically remove the character from Victorian England and place him in another age.