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.
Sandra Miesel will soon be posting but is currently addressing some small technical glitches. But she sent me some comments about Dan Brown's witness statement to post:
I've now read Dan Brown's entire personal statement to the court and would like to offer a few reactions, not in any particular order but things that leap out of my notes.
Brown is trying to present himself as a serious Artist, a man of many talents just bursting with nuggets of arcane lore. If the judge is well-educated, this could backfire because Brown's performance merely reveals him as surprisingly ignorant. The way he tries to claim status from the accomplishments of family and friends does raise the suspicion that Brown is the slow child in a bright household.
The mentions of albums recorded during his brief and unsuccessful musical career carefully avoid mentioning that these were never released by a professional label. Brown speaks of Amherst but never what his major was; of his wife's art historical knowledge without identifying her education. And yet despite these supposedly fine backgrounds, Brown admits not having heard of this, that, and the other that should be available in a well-furnished liberal arts mind. (e.g. the existence of the witch-hunters' manual, the MALLEUS MALIFICARUM) And there's a certain dissonance in complaining of poverty in his early career while referring to vacations in Tahiti and Mexico during the same period.
With one exception, the books Brown does admit to using heavily are worthless esoteric histories, conspiracy books, or New Age titles. The one genuine volume of academic history, THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: THE TEMPLARS AND THEIR MYTH by Peter Partner, has gone missing. But inasmuch as it's a thorough debunking book, there's nothing in TDVC to suggest that Brown used it. (If you want to read about the Templars, Partner's book is the place to start.) That he tries to pass off ludicrous sources such as THE TEMPLAR REVELATION, Margaret Starbird, Jim Marrs, THE TOMB OF CHRIST, THE HIRAM KEY, or Barbara Walker as legitimate scholarly authorities is laughable. And that's putting it kindly.
This scheme will fail if the judge examines Charles Addison's HISTORY OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR in the particular edition Brown provides. (The crackpottery of the advertisements in the back would be enough to discredit the work eve before it's read.) This decorously Victorian text is not a bad book, just an old one--published in 1842, two years before a printed edition of the Templar trial became available. But here it's accompanied by a bizarre and ridiculous introduction penned by David Hatcher Childress that's heavily dependent on HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL with the Knights presented as sworn enemies of the Church, privy to wisdom passed down from Atlantis. I wondered while writing my part of THE DA VINCI HOAX how Brown had forgotten that the Pope who suppressed the Templars was ruling from Avignon, not Rome. Well, here's the answer--Childress forgot it first. He also, as Brown does, makes the Pope, not the king of France give the order to arrest the Templars.
Brown implicitly admits what I had suspected: he read no Gnostic texts himself. He depended on quotes from Elaine Pagels' THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS. Neither had he read any actual Grail romances although several of these are readily available in good editions from Penguin Books. He lists some books about Leonardo da Vinci but no academic titles on Renaissance art, Gothic architecture, or the witch-hunt. He used the popular Fodor travel guides for European places instead of the far more informative (and authoritative) Michelin ones. This is a man who grabs whatever scraps of information his wife happens to provide, regardless of quality. She seems as poor a judge of sources as he is.
In both TDVC and the court statement, Brown thanks an academic librarian for help but identifies his institution as the non-existent "University of Ohio" instead of the regional branch of Ohio State University at Chillicothe where the man actually works.
Browns attempts to show off his rich fund of lore simply demonstrate his ignorance. For example, he claims great admiration for Bernini and familiarity with his paintings. But Bernini's great achievements are in sculpture and architecture. Only a few paintings are attributed to him and these uncertainly.
Brown follows Margaret Starbird in deriving the dynastic name Merovingian from the French "mer" for sea and "vigne" for vine. He seems blissfully unaware that these rulers of France in the Dark Ages didn't speak French but rather Frankish, a Germanic language akin to Dutch and weren't called "Merovingians" in their own era. The designation in fact comes from the name of their ancestor Merovech, Latinized as Meroveus.
And then there is Brown's disquisition on the etymology of the word "sincere" which he derives from a Renaissance Spanish expression meaning "without wax" for well-wrought marble statues that required no wax to repair mistakes. My college dictionary says that "sincere" comes from French and ultimately from the Latin "sincerus" meaning pure or honest. But hey, what does Webster know? Or the OXFORD LATIN DICTIONARY?
Dan Brown's statement to the court certainly tells us what little he knows.