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Alexandra

June Book of the Month: The DaVinci Code

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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.

Yes, but this is quite good too

"Meanwhile the albino monk, whose name is Silas and who may be the first character in the history of motion pictures to speak Latin into a cellphone,"

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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.

On the other hand, the organization doesn't number many albino monk assassins in its ranks, either. But let's not turn this into the Opus Dei thread. :dry:

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I could not really read the novel, despite plodding through ever single word of the first, long scene in the Louvre. I skimmed the rest.

Issues of writing competence really got in the way. Also, Brown's practice of helping himself to ideas and arguments from other pseudo-historical, pseudo-theological writings on the topic was quite distracting.

Our local paper has a feature today called "Books of Shame Hall of Fame," which links DaVinci Code to previous blockbusters like Valley of the Dolls, The Bridges of Madison, "Love Story, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and The Firm.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/...shame_0518.html

However, after reading the Times review, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie for locations and art direction. Thanks, kfw, for the link.

As to dialogue, I find that bringing along a set of wax earplugs often helps.

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As to dialogue, I find that bringing along a set of wax earplugs often helps.

Thanks for the laugh. I'm reminded of Merce Cunningham fans purportedly watching his dances while wearing Walkmans. Have you tried a Walkman with, say, the score for "Sounddance"?

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Times critic A. O. Scott also says

But of course movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Jesus or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema such matters are best left to Monty Python.

But of course let's not turn this thread into something completely different.

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But of course movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Jesus or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema such matters are best left to Monty Python. In any case Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull sententiousness.

I think Scott is a trifle unfair here, and not especially thoughtful. Thrillers, although apparently not this one, can handle difficult issues – “Munich” is a high profile example of a picture with thriller elements on a serious subject. There’s really no reason why the book couldn’t have been a good picture – the elements are there amid the hooey. Most likely Howard was the wrong director for the project.

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I read it. (This feels almost like making confession.) It's a simple book to read, and makes a reader think that s/he's thinking. It's in the old tradition of science fiction potboilers: Provide the readers with a great deal of information about things that they've barely heard about, and know next to nothing about (in fact, the less ANYBODY knows about them, the better), and those things you don't know yourself, make up. It's the "willing suspension of disbelief" gone on steroids. This stuff is FICTION, people!

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I like the view taken by this writer– it strikes a nice balance.

Nevertheless, truth is a complicated matter. Although unacquainted with facts, "The Da Vinci Code" has become a phenomenon because it encompasses so many larger truths. Its discussion of the "sacred feminine," for example, taps into widespread dissatisfaction with the church, especially its treatment of women. It also prompted millions of women who do not ordinarily read thrillers to purchase "The Da Vinci Code."

At a time when most writers confront "small" ideas -- often an individual's search for self-understanding -- Brown's book satisfies our hunger for big ideas. At play is nothing less than the greatest story ever told.

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Thanks, dirac, for the quotation. I almost agree with the following:

Nevertheless, truth is a complicated matter. Although unacquainted with facts, "The Da Vinci Code" has become a phenomenon because it encompasses so many larger truths.

Instead of "larger truths" I might have used the phrase "revisionist theories."

For years before Brown, the publishing industry was already turning out books expressing theories (often quite conspiratorial) concerning both (a) the Templars (destroyed with the connivance of the Church they served) and (b) the central role of women in the ministry of Jesus (erased from history by the patriarchal Church).

Brown pasted this stuff into a thriller format. The huge success of the novel gave these ideas immeasurably greater currency and stimulated even more work that now takes up much space in the history lists of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Just look at the shelves at your local big booksstore. (a) and (b) are two of the largest categories in the religion and history sections. Most of the books about the Templars pre-date Brown but were reissued after his success. Most of the books on Mary Magdalene post-date Brown though a Magdalene-Jesus relationship is central to Nikos Kanzantzakis's novel "Last Temptation of Christ," which Martin Scorcese turned into a film in 1988.

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