So says Jennifer Paull of Fodors Travel. As you probably know, Fodors publishes travel guides to help real people traveling to real cities and real countries. But now Fodors has published Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code:
This fully illustrated guide to the best-selling novel gives you fresh insight into the Da Vinci Code phenomenon. Following the path of the novel's characters, Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code delves into the locations, people, historic events, and symbols involved in the story.
Inside you'll find answers to questions such as: Do cryptexes really exist? Is there a secret chamber below Rosslyn Chapel? And what did conservators discover when they restored Leonardo's The Last Supper? Photographs interviews, maps, and smart lively essays from experts in their fields reveal the eye-opening true tales behind the mystery.
Uh, isn't the novel just a novel? Isn't that what so many people keep saying to us silly Christians who are clearly too dull to understand the difference between fiction and reality? Or, is this just a marketing ploy? Of course it's a marketing ploy — and one that shamlessly revels in the nonsensical and stupid claims made by the novel. And Fodor's website features "The Da Vinci Code Tour," (Paris, London, Scotland, England, and New York!), and includes quotes from the novel while resorting to this sort of silly copy-writing:
"A must-read before a trip to Paris," wrote "Jay" on the Fodors.com Travel Talk forums earlier this year. The book he was describing: Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code, a suspense story wrapped around a lecture on art and religion. Although the real meaning behind Leonardo's art is ultimately unknowable, the real-life places in which Brown has set his tale are known to historians and tourists throughout the world, and the book has inspired travelers to visit them.. ...
The Da Vinci Code opens with a late-night visit by the police to Robert Langdon, a prominent symbologist from Harvard University. The curator of the Louvre has been killed inside the museum, and a cryptic message has been found alongside the body. Thus begins a tale involving murder, religious intrigue, and a quest for the Holy Grail. To operatives of the Vatican and Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic group, the secrets the curator was trying to protect flew in the face of church teachings, giving both organizations an incentive to suppress them. [emphasis added]
So, in light of this copy (and there are other examples), what does it mean to say, "The novel has really given people a new way to look at these destinations and these sights"? Obvi0usly it refers to the connections the novel makes between real places and real groups (Catholics, Opus Dei) and not-s0-real events (the Lecture, the suppression of "secrets"). Tourists are encouraged to associate fictional events with real places as a way of enhancing and even enlightening their travels. Sadly, as Sandra Miesel shows in our book, The Da Vinci Hoax, Brown's descriptions of modern day places and buildings are often incorrect. As Sandra likes to dryly note, The Da Vinci Code is correct in saying Paris is in France and London is in England. After that, you'd be better of trusting Fodors. Maybe.