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Alexandra

June Book of the Month: The DaVinci Code

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Gnosticism, whether it be in theology or ballet, always sells so well - the notion that there is some sort of "inside knowledge" hidden somewhere. It's had a great play all the way from the first century forward.

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But do you think Dan Brown himself actually believed he was advancing any theories? I think that all along he intended to serve them up as great mysteries that had some fun with conspiracy theories.

And they were great. They sent lots of people, myself included, to other books and articles in search of the truth.

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I'm with Vagansmom on this one. I don't think the author tried to brainwash people into believing these theories; the only things he accounts for being "true" before the novel begins are descriptions of art work (although he did get a lot of things wrong), the fact that there was/is a secret society called the Priory of Sion (I take this to be true...?), and controversy surrounding Opus Dei (he does not state that these "corrupt" practices actually take place). Yes, the novel is fiction, and that's how he intended it to be. These theories about the Holy Grail and Christ have been around for centuries; I guess people are just getting riled up about them lately because it has entered mainstream fiction.

I also happen to be one of those people who wanted to learn more. It's amazing how so much of this stuff is out there that I could have never imagined before until I read The Da Vinci Code. I wanted to learn more about the Knights Templar and Priory of Sion, but most importantly, it fueled my interest in Leonardo's, among other artists', works. Somehow I used to think the Mona Lisa was overrated... :o :shrug:

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There was indeed an abbey named the Priory of Sion, but it ceased to exist in the early part of the seventeenth century, when the order became members of the Society of Jesus. The original Knights Templar were Crusaders who had made it to Jerusalem, and their actual order was merged with the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Malta before the Counterreformation. The KH continue to exist as THE smallest nation in the world, being a single building in downtown Rome. The "Knights Templar" are a uniformed branch of Freemasonry, the current organization having only formed centuries after the assumption of the original, and has only a fanciful connection with it.

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I don't think Dan Brown was sincerely trying to advance new theories. But the way they are presented in the book -- "facts" that are explained by world-renowned academics -- might fool the less discerning reader.

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And Opus Dei is still a controversial organization. In my neck of the woods, there's an abbey nearby that had (maybe still has but I don't know) ties with Opus Dei. A friend of mine was involved with them for a period of time some years ago and has such strong opinions about some of their practices that she was part of a group of individuals who traveled to the Vatican for a meeting with officials there to discuss the organization.

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So right there we have three heavily prejudicial factors working against the factuality of the book as "docudrama": Suspicion of the Jesuits, suspicion of Freemasonry, and suspicion of Opus Dei. That would make for a conspiracy addict's dream!

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OK, so I'm way late to be a part of these discussions, but I have question for those that have read The Da Vinci Code. Since it appears to be part of a series do you recommend that I read Angels & Demons first? Or does The Da Vinci Code stand alone? I'm ready for a new book and can't decide... :)

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They each stand alone. DaVinci Code occasionally mentions a character from Angels& Demons but that's about it. You can read them in either order. I read DaVinci Code before Angels & Demons - not a problem at all.

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As though this mediocre book hadn't sold enough copies over the last two years -- now comes the marketing boost of a publisher's dreams -- condemnation by the church! :pinch:

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It does seem counterproductive, doesn't it? :pinch:

I haven't read the book and so can't attest to its quality, but it does seem to have engaged the interest of many people in the distant past, always a plus in my view. (I loved your little parody earlier in this thread, Farrell Fan. Even someone who hasn't read it can get the point!)

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It does seem counterproductive, doesn't it?   :pinch:

For some Catholics yes -- but it's hard to believe many haven't heard about the book already anyhow and decided whether or not to read it. For others no. The Washington Post quotes someone from a Catholic research organization in Rome as being "astonished at the number of Italians who tell [him] their faith has been shaken. Many historians agree that the book is hogwash (I haven't read either the book or its debunkers), but they haven't written thrillers to say so, so they haven't reached the same number of people.

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Well, I'm sure the publisher is probably delighted, in any case. :pinch:

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Many historians agree that the book is hogwash (I haven't read either the book or its debunkers), but they haven't written thrillers to say so, so they haven't reached the same number of people.

They had better get busy...the movie with Tom Hanks will be here soon :rolleyes:

edited to fix quote box

Edited by carbro

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Joining the conversation rather late... :blink:

I read TDVC and I thought it was.....a load of rubbish. I was certainly caught up in it while I was reading it, but upon reflection I wasn't particularly impressed. I'm only seventeen but I wasn't drawn to any characters. Having since read Deception Point and Digital Fortress I was amazed at the lack of originality in the same sort of figure being the 'bad guy' in all three books!!!

*I've discussed it with my friends and we agree that Brown has an obvious preference to highly intelligent women with legs, and highly attractive AND intelligent men. *

Then again, I wouldn't say this genre is my favourite anyway. In the last chapter, Brown mentions that the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, etc had nothing to with the real thing...but they had been implicated throughout the story.

Overall, I feel that I didn't waste my time because it was really only a book, and it did hold my attention, but, there was controversy around it which did sort spark my interest...

I'm not meaning to be inappropriate. :)

NB: I have been raised a Catholic....but I read it regardless. I think its harmless as long as no one proclaims it as gospel :blink:

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Better late than never. Welcome to the topic. :)

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I just started listening to this book on audiotape and it certainly leavened my commute on this very rainy morning. OTOH it really is a heavy-handed opus - Farrell Fan catches the style incredibly well - I blurted "Leonardo da Vinci" out loud about ten minutes before the Vetruvian Man was mentioned on the cassette. I have yet to be acquainted with the curvaceous cryptographer - I except that awaits me in 3 hours time!

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Do report back after you make her acquaintance, GWTW. :)

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What a load of rubbish - and personally, if I were a Catholic I'd be really annoyed by this book. The Catholic Church is hardly the first or the last religion to co-opt and transform pagan practices in order to draw in converts. As Pagan religions have their spring festivals, Christians have Easter and Jews have Passover - these festivals share many practices, just think about egg hunts at Easter and eating hard-boiled eggs at the Passover Seder and as eggs represent the renewal of life, I'm pretty sure that any pagan spring festival will incorporate them (together with a ritual sex act!).

Regarding the ritual sex act, as a 21st century feminist, I was annoyed that Dan Brown seems to think that a religion that respects women is one in which Woman enables Man to reach God by way of Sex. That's not my definition of equality or feminism.

Maybe it's my ignorance of the New Testament and Christianity but I really didn't understand what the issue was surrounding Mary Magdalene. Is she really still reviled by the Church? Isn't it a matter of interpretation whether she actually was a prostitute or not? I don't know how Jewish law was applied in Jesus' time but one reason observant Jews forbid premarital sex is because under Jewish law a man and a woman are married when they 'know' each other (and therfore premarital sex causes huge problems of divorce, adultery, bastard children, etc) - so perhaps Jesus and Mary Magdalene, who were both Jewish, were actually married...

Sorry for this rant - but you did ask.

P.S. As far as I'm concerned the canonical version of the legend of the Holy Grail was told in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so TDVC is really heresy. :)

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Tonight NBC's Dateline addresses issues raised in the book. (Sorry I couldn't log on earlier, East Coasters).

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7491383/

(Edited to add link.)

Edited by carbro

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I finished it yesterday. It's forced me to hit the Internet over and over again to research some of the organizations, paintings and individuals mentioned.

According to this item, even the Louvre is angling to bring in the curious.

"One of our goals is to attract people who are not used to museums," said Didier Selles, the general administrator of the Louvre, who has read the book. "We want to reach people from blue-collar families and the suburbs. We have to talk and speak to a general public in a way that is not so academic."

I read it this weekend – it doesn’t take long – and it seemed to me an above average example of the genre Books You Buy at the Airport. If it sends people to museums and further research, then I think that’s great, and a lot more than they’d get from many other best sellers. The prose, as accurately parodied by Farrell Fan, is pretty painful, though. Regarding the complaints, I will refrain from comment except to say that Opus Dei complaining about damage to its good name is pretty funny.

This kind of book often makes a good movie, so I plan to go, although I fear for Paul Bettany. First he's threatening to waste Harrison Ford and his family, and now this? :wink:

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The prose, as accurately parodied by Farrell Fan, is pretty painful, though.
That was my impression from the first chapter. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott calls it
Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence
Love it, love it. Here's the review.

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The book isn't written too badly by the standards of the genre, truthfully. I have read worse.

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The BBC has lots about Da Vinci Code on it’s website, such as the re-naming of a Eurostar train; alternative name could have been jump on any bandwagon.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4986232.stm

The Louvre Museum isn’t slow to make a quick buck either, though ten Euros for an audio guide is daylight robbery as other Parisian museums hand you these for free when you pay your entry fee.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4773701.stm

Here is a luke-warm review of the film version

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4989710.stm

Oh, and the Muslims don’t care for The Da Vinci Code either.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4985370.stm

Finally, here’s what the general public is thinking (click on readers recommended for the consensus of opinion).

http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jsp...=20060518150905

Finally I'd just like to add that not everything in the book turned out to be fiction. The sinister Opus Dei organization really does exist and has now been the subject of some probing journalism in the UK. It sounds a pretty unpleasant cult and most worrying of all a British government minister, Ruth Kelly, has been exposed as being a member.

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