Contesting the Code: Navigating Reactions to Dan Brown's Book

Eric A. Brown
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Is it absolute fact, probable, plausible, possible or blatantly false? The blending of all these in Dan Brown's book The DaVinci Code has been castigated by an unlikely coalition from the Art History Community and conservative Christianity. The author is censured variably as a writer by pedestrian formulae, a woefully ignorant artistic philistine, or a lamentably careless scholar. But, he has also awakened the public and sparked combustion in a sometimes soggy, apathetic mass.

I discuss the veracity of Brown's version of art and history and argue that in spite of (or perhaps because of) the sensational and sometimes dubious nature of the details, the reader forms a sense of eager curiosity and cautious skepticism. Are these not healthy qualities for a scholar or a Christian? Is it even relevant whether or not the book is factual? After all, what standard of scrutiny shall we apply to a novel in regard to its veracity? We might recall Virginia Woolf's warning that we should not be "asking of fiction that it shall be true..." Perhaps it affirms the dynamism of the words and the wholeness of the structure he has fabricated that so many feel compelled to refute them.

Keywords: The Phenomenon of The Da Vinci Code's Success, Unorthodox Ideas and Various Christian Rebuttals, Some Aspects of the Portrayal of Leonardo da Vinci, The License of a Novel
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Knowledge, Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Contesting the Code

Eric A. Brown

Chairman, Art Department, Southern Utah University

Ref: H05P0521