Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sharath's bookshelf - The Da Vinci Code

     I read The Da Vinci Code before it acquired notoriety; leastwise before I was aware of its notoriety. It does not have any extraordinary literary value nor can I vouch for the accuracy of the historical data in the novel. What it does have, is an engaging storyline and an imaginative author who uses various disparate historical facts and coalesces them to make a seemingly preposterous conspiracy theory sound plausible.

     This was the first Dan Brown - Robert Langdon book I read; so the layout of his novel was new to me. I hadn t read Angels and Demons yet. So the story felt fresh and it did not have the been there - read that vibe
I got when I read the other two Brown - Langdon novels. If it aint broke, don t fix it - is a quaint adage that I think Mr Brown has taken to heart. His novels are international bestsellers and their success make Dan Brown stick to his shtick.

      Anyone familiar with all of Brown's novels can see a common layout in all his stories. There is a city with historical significance that forms the backdrop ( Rome in Angels and Demons, Paris in this novel, Washington DC in The lost symbol ), a secret society (the Illuminati, the Priory of Sion, the Free Masons), a henchman fueled by fanaticism ( the (H)assassin, Silas ), a mastermind who is revealed at the end of the novel and an array of riddles and puzzles that no one except Mr Langdon has any hope of unraveling.

       This book was a magnet for controversy. It attracted the ire of the Catholic church which moved to ban the book. This ironically resulted in a phenomenal increase in the sales of the book and made the mediocre film adaptation,( albeit with a top notch star cast ), a financial success. I personally think that the whole thing was blown out of proportion.This book was also the subject of at least two lawsuits alleging plagiarism by Dan Brown.

      This book has been reviled by the critics as being historically inaccurate. Other critics have blasted Brown for his "clumsy" and "pedestrian" style of prose. I don t mind it that much. If you are like me, you know, the kind that loses track of time while in a Wikipedia spiral, you will definitely enjoy the asides about the divine proportion, the discourses about renaissance art and the descriptions of Paris.

       The book, though not a literary masterpiece by any stretch of imagination, is still worth reading. I enjoyed the book immensely though it does not lend itself to rereading( which according to me is the hallmark of a great book ). The movie is simply not worth commenting upon , though it gives us an opportunity to examine Da Vinci's The Last Supper.

Read it if you haven t already. If you have already read it, then skim through it and read the parts you like.  

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