Thursday, March 24, 2005

History and The da Vinci Code
Last night my dh and I watched "The Real da Vinci Code" with Tony Robinson (of Time Team and Blackadder fame) on History Television. Not that we needed to watch it to know that much of the book was bunkum, but as we're fans of Tony, we decided to watch. It was really good! He approached each aspect quite serioiusly and did the research, talking to people from both sides. Well, all but Mr. Brown himself, who only appeared on tape from what appeared to be another programme.

I think the reason so many people have reacted negatively to the history in The da Vinci Code is because of the author's insistence that all of the history is based on fact. And it's not. As an author of fiction, it is just asking for trouble.

Yes, I write historical romance fiction. And yes, I include historical figures when necessary. And I try to be as accurate as possible. But I would NEVER claim absolutely everything historical in my book is true and accurate. I'm not perfect. And history is an ongoing process, with new theories being advance, new conclusions being drawn and even new discoveries being made.

Is it any wonder, then, that as word of mouth spread about this book, that the historians would take it on? And, ultimately IMHO, win? But in the end, I doubt Mr. Brown is worried. The book continues to sell and he's at work on his next one. In then end, it's true, even bad publicity can be good.


1 comment:

McVane said...

" [...] the author's insistence that all of the history is based on fact. And it's not. As an author of fiction, it is just asking for trouble."

I must be a freak because I don't see it that way at all. I see it as a part of an old storytelling tradition, e.g. fireplace stories. As in, "I have a story for you, and what I'm about to tell you is the truth ... "

It demands your attention, belief and faith, while the fact that he or she says that opening line tells you you have to understand the story is a mixture of creative lies, half-truths, twisted interpretations, and facts. It's down to you - as a listener [or in Brown's case, reader] - to determine which bits are true and which aren't.

So, with that in mind, Dan Brown did his job. And did it well.

In actual fact, IMO, he did the Church a *huge* favour. He's the best thing that has happened to the Church in decades [I'm Catholic, fwiw. OK, lapsed, but still! :)]. Free publicity, a surge in re-affirming faith, and such. Likewise with art, history, museums, and so much more. I think it's a shame that people are not realising that this novel is fabulous for motivating its readers to do their own research.

Plus, he did what filmmakers did for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which is also a huge success in its own right. Yet, in both cases, I was shocked to see so many people taking that statement [and the film] so literally. It's a shame that many people today seem to have forgetton this old storytelling tradition. Heck, it's up there with 'Once upon a time ...'

Or used to be. :D Sorry about the long ramble. :)