This repost is part of our Summer Slowdown revisiting of the blog archives. This post was originally published April 10th, 2006 (back when HaT was still on Blogger), and this time around I’m appending some footnotes.
Am I saving myself as much time and possible grief as I think I am when I refuse to read their blog if I click on a commentor’s profile and find that they’ve listed The Da Vinci Code as a favorite book?1 Maybe there are some perfectly perspicacious people who nonetheless love this book that I’m missing. But I have severe doubts.
I can understand reading it as a pop-culture phenomenon: I did that, especially as I’d already read Holy Blood, Holy Grail from which the author drew much of his plot2. I thought that was a beautifully crafted but mostly crap conspiracy theory then, and Dan Brown did a competent hack job of turning it all into a thriller, but no more. I have no gripe with people who read it from curiosity and gave it the ho-hum it deserves.
But to list it as a favorite? Mere iconoclasm does not a great book make. If the Grail conspiracy stuff has been a great eye-opener for one as to how the early Christians developed their dogma, and the controversies regarding the competing strands of Christian faith that ended up suppressed by Rome, fine. Have some residual affection for it for that.
But don’t elevate a clunkily-written hack thriller into favourite book status just because it gives the Vatican and the fundies the finger. Please.
As for the upcoming film? As Brown’s annoying stylistic lapses will have to be glossed over to sustain the pace of a movie thriller, the film actually has a chance of being a halfway decent rattling yarn if they don’t take all the religious symbology stuff too portentously3. How many believe that they will manage that? I will wait to kibbitz on someone else’s DVD though – I refuse to part with one sestertius for the dubious pleasure of seeing it.
Footnotes from 2010:
1. For those who haven’t spend much time in blogspot land, if another blogspot blogger leaves a comment on your blogspot blog, Blogger links to their blogger.com profile page, so that’s the first thing you see if you click through, rather than the front page of their blog.
2. Hilariously, the writers of Holy Blood, Holy Grail actually tried to sue Dan Brown for plagiarism. The judgement quite rightly noted that they would only have a case if they were claiming that their own book was a work of fiction rather than one of alleged historical fact, and was this really what they wanted to say? They seem to have imploded at around about this point.
3. The film adaptation did end up as a halfway decent rattling yarn, although I think the second one was a better thriller, perhaps because it was a more standard OTT conspiracy theory.