The DaVinci Code

This book was loaned to me by my cousin Jessica while I was in New Jersey during the Christmas holidays. She was off from Rutgers and reading I am Charlotte Simmons by Thomas Wolfe.
I didn’t really feel like I was that bored while staying at my aunt’s house, but once I started reading The DaVinci Code (by Dan Brown), it was pretty tough to put it down. The book wasn’t abnormally long or short, nevertheless I finished it in a mere two days.
In my opinion, this novel evaluated as a work of literature does not merit much praise or any accolades. It is an extremely popular best-selling novel, but very much in the vein of J.K. Rowling’s (Harry Potter series), Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler. This is to say that the writing is pretty much straightforward narrative… missing many of the literary devices that critics (and my english teachers) regard as one of the hallmarks of intellectual literature. A lot of best-selling novels read this way, but there are exceptions, most notably (in my opinion) Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. The last book I read was also more like a work of literature. I get the notion that some people don’t like narrative-type books because they dont’ find it as intellectually challenging, stimulating, or sophisticated. The DaVinci code does have some of that, but not in the way that you might think.
This is not to say that the narrative style of The DaVinci code makes it a ‘dumb’ book. On the contrary… the intellectual appeal of this novel comes about in the meticulous research, treatment and presentation of christian, religious and medieval symbology and history. The book is chock full of extremely interesting tidbits about christianity and the origin of its traditions, the actual and the widlely-mistaken. Equally amazing is the way that the author manages to piece together and reveal the fruits of what must have been intense research in tantalizing bits as the story progresses.
The plot of the novel centers around Robert Langdon, an author/Harvard college professor of religious symbiology (I imagine most professors are also authors) and his inadvertent involvement with the investigation of a mysterious murder, which turns into a race to decipher codes and clues left by a secret society and eventually to the hunt for religious artifact(s). Sound tantalizing? 🙂 It gets better. The premises in the book seem to be mostly factual products of author Dan Brown’s research. I haven’t yet looked into what is historically accurate and what isn’t, but I am sure that every person who has read this book has had the same questions come across their mind and that there are probably countless websites dedicated to the novel’s lore. I don’t want to spoil the book for you by revealing too much, but here is a shocker… Leonardo DaVinci (and his works) figure very prominently in the clues Langdon has to examine.

So, to amend my earlier statement about the literary devices present in The DaVinci code… symbiology is very integral to the novel, but these (literal) symbols are the creations of artists like Leonardo DaVinci, rather than the archetypical literary symbols one might find in a more “intellectual” novel.

My reccomendation is to make time to read this novel.

-EDIT- After googling around for some information on Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code, I found this statement on the official site:

The Priory of Sion—a European secret society founded in 1099—is a real organization. In 1975, Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic group that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brain-washing, coercion, and a practice known as “corporal mortification.” Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.


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