The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, is a 2003 mystery-detective novel. It tells the story of Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu who investigate a gruesome murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It relates to a supposed battle between Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion. The title of the novel relates to the murder victim being found in the Louvre in the Grand Gallery. His body was naked and artificially posed to resemble Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing called, the Vitruvian Man. A pentacle is drawn on the victims chest in his own blood and a cryptic message scrawled beside his body.
The fictional book has been very successful though, it has come in for criticism on many levels.
In a 2008 issue of The Paris Review Umberto Eco said , “Dan Brown is a character from Foucault’s Pendulum! I invented him. He shares my characters’ fascinations—the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist.”
During a lecture, the writer Salman Rushdie said, “Do not start me on ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ A novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name.”
Stephen Fry has been more vitriolic saying of Dan Brown’s work, “complete loose stool-water” and “arse gravy of the worst kind.” He went on to say, “I just loathe all those books about the Holy Grail and Masons and Catholic conspiracies and all that botty-dribble. I mean, there’s so much more that’s interesting and exciting in art and in history. It plays to the worst and laziest in humanity, the desire to think the worst of the past and the desire to feel superior to it in some fatuous way.”
Stephen King said of Dan Brown’s work that it was like, “Jokes for the John,” calling this level of work the “intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.”
The New York Times said the book was “Dan Brown’s best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence”.
The New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane said its “unmitigated junk” and described “the crumbling coarseness of the style.”
Among others, linguist Geoffrey Pullum called Brown one of the “worst prose stylists in the history of literature” and saying Brown’s “writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad.”
Roger Ebert described it as a “potboiler written with little grace and style,” and then went on to say “I should read a potboiler like The Da Vinci Code every once in a while, just to remind myself that life is too short to read books like The Da Vinci Code.”
The author has also been embroiled in legal battles over alleged plagiarism in two of his novels.
I thought Tom Hanks who played Robert Langdon, Audrey Tautou and Sir Ian McKellen were very impressive in the film and that managed to transform the written work into something quite acceptable.
However, I have to agree with the other detractors as I did feel that the book was surprisingly purile, badly written and I found it quite turgid. Not what I expected. I wouldn’t personally bother reading any others that he writes.
He said of The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum that, ‘Ludlum’s early books are complex, smart, and yet still move at a lightning pace. This series got me interested in the genre of big-concept, international thrillers.’
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