In response to my blog about The Real da Vinci Code the other day, Màili posted a longish comment. I'm quoting it below, and will respond to it in parts. Màili's comments are in italics.
" [...] 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 ... "
Hmm, well, not the quote that I saw. He was shown saying that ALL the historical societies etc were based on fact. It has been known for years that the Priory of Sion is a hoax.
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.
Well, except that a lot of people just took it ALL as fact, believeing his revelations to be true. As a historian, I hate to see people misled in this way, but I guess, in the end, it's up to them what they want to believe *g*.
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.
Now, this I agree with entirely. Which is why I wonder about some of the really negative reaction by some church represenatatives. They should be happy people are so interested in learning about Christ and His life. And welcome the opportunity to debate the issues Brown raises. Certainly, the question of the suppression of Mary Magdalen and her portrayal as a prostitute by the Church for centuries is worth discussing. I've always maintained the for the various Christian denominations to continue, they will have to move with the times and be willing to accept that people can interpret the bible and its teachings in their own way, yet remain followers of the faith.
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. :)
No worries about the ramble - I enjoyed reading it!
Yes, it is shocking to see how easily some people will believe something they read in a book or see on a screen to be true. A little scepticism is always a good thing!
What I liked about Tony Robinson's approach was that he did explore each of the facts presented by Brown quite seriously, only to find that most weren't based in fact.
Interestingly enough, yesterday afternoon there was a discussion on the radio here about The da Vinci Code, on a programme called Talking Books, hosted by Ian Brown. He was joined by three people, including a minister and their approach to the book was serious and the ensuing discussion very enlightening. They agreed that as well as raising interest in reading for adults, much like Harry Potter did for children, The dvC also brought religious issues to the fore.
I only wish Brown had avoided making that statement about EVERYTHING being historically accurate when it wasn't. And I'm pretty sure he knew it. Oh well, I still want a copy of the illustrated version (gave mine away for a book raffle).