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June Book of the Month: The DaVinci Code


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#46 carbro

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 04:14 PM

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, 13 April 2005 - 04:19 PM.


#47 dirac

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 02:55 PM

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:

#48 kfw

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 08:50 AM

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.

#49 dirac

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:31 PM

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

#50 Mashinka

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 06:47 AM

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.u...ent/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.u...ent/4773701.stm

Here is a luke-warm review of the film version

http://news.bbc.co.u...ent/4989710.stm

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

http://news.bbc.co.u...sia/4985370.stm

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

http://newsforums.bb...=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.

#51 sandik

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:56 AM

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,"

#52 dirac

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:15 AM

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:

#53 bart

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:21 AM

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.palmbeach...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.

#54 kfw

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:59 AM

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"?

#55 drb

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 01:25 PM

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.

#56 dirac

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 03:03 PM

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.

#57 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 03:47 PM

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!

#58 dirac

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 04:08 PM

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.



#59 bart

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 07:27 PM

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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