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Tony Grist

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The Da Vinci Code [Feb. 4th, 2005|10:10 am]
Tony Grist
They say the Da Vinci Code is badly written. That's enough to put me off. Life is too short.

But what really gets me is that people are reacting as if this stuff about The Priory of Sion and Mary Magdalen and Rennes Le Chateau were new and shocking. It isn't. It's all there in the 1982 non-fiction best-seller The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which is still in print. Also it's all over the Net. What sheltered lives some people must lead!

Also, if Brown had researched properly- instead of just reading The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail- he'd have known that the Priory of Sion has long since been revealed as a hoax. I'll admit I didn't know that myself before last night (when Channel 4 revealed all) but if I'd been proposing to put the Priory at the centre of a novel I'd have made damn sure I found out all I could about it before I went ahead and committed myself.
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2005-02-04 02:40 am (UTC)
ah, I missed that programme. Sounded quite entertaining.

I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, as a piece of light entertainment which required very little thought. One of those 'try not to worry about the plot' things. Not great writing by any stretch, but an entertaining enough thriller.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 02:47 am (UTC)
I love Tony Robinson. He offered to bring the Time Team in to dig up the floor of Rosslyn Chapel.

Respect!
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-02-04 03:17 am (UTC)
I never bothered with The Da Vinci Code because I had read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail some years ago, plus my husband, a great reader, couldn't even finish the book and kept swearing at it while he was trying to read it. Good enough to warn me away.

Can't you just see a Time Team episode on that?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 05:40 am (UTC)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is a cracking good read. Pity it turns out to be a work- if not of fiction- at least of wishful thinking.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 05:47 am (UTC)
Well, yes. I suspect the guy is lying.

The Priory of Zion turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by three off the wall Frenchmen in the 1950s. They weren't about black magic, but about restoring the Merovingian dynasty. So whatever this group is that your friend has contacted I imagine it has just "borrowed" the name.
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From: geodesus_christ
2005-02-04 04:56 am (UTC)
A close friend of mine recently became a freemason and through his lodge met a guy in the Priory and is trying to join himself. He says they do high-level ceremonial magick and see black shadows moving around in their meeting house... could be that the guy is lying to him I guess.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2005-02-04 05:29 am (UTC)
I haven't read the book, but my mother enjoyed it. To be fair, as I understand it, the author has said that he was writing fiction and that he wasn't actually trying for accuracy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 05:49 am (UTC)
Well, yes. He's touched a nerve and good luck to him.

It's just that this stuff about Sion and Rennes Le Chateau and the Sang Real has been out there for decades and I'm surprised at anyone being shocked or surprised at it.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2005-02-04 05:34 am (UTC)
I, too, enjoyed DVC as a piece of light reading, and I also picked up Brown's latest, Angels and Demons, which was also entertaining.

I think it's important to remember that Brown's work is intended to be fiction - granted, with enough "realistic" facts thrown in to make some people wonder if it's really fiction, but in the end, that's exactly what it is and nothing more. I think if one keeps that in mind when reading it, it can be enjoyable.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 06:13 am (UTC)
Ailz has read Angels and Demons. I think she enjoyed it. She says the murders are pretty gruesome.

Maybe it's unrealistic to expect writers of popular fiction to do much research. After all, Conan Doyle placed Taunton at the heart of Dartmoor and all he had to do was glance at the map to discover it's not.

My resentment of Dan Brown stems from my feeling (maybe it's unjust) that he's just taken someone else's book, lightly fictionalized it and now he's making millions. I just don't reckon he's earned his success.
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From: sunfell
2005-02-04 05:52 am (UTC)
When I read "The DaVinci Code", it was like deja vu all over again. "Where have I read about this stuff?" I asked myself- and the answer was on my bookshelf- a first edition copy of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail".

Like everyone else here, I thought it was a good 'what if' sort of romp, but in my explorations of the Grail legends, there was always that sense of fiction underlying all of it. Even when I visited Glastonbury and the alleged place of King Arthur, I couldn't shake that sense that it was all a fairy tale.

It was, but it was still fun. And so was Glastonbury- it struck me as sort of like Santa Cruz CA without the beach. :-)

Sunfell

(PS: My friend vulturechick turned me onto your LJ, just in case you're wondering where I came from. She highly recommended you.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 06:20 am (UTC)
Glastonbury used to be my favourite place in all the world. It's been about ten years since I was last there.

I'm afraid to go back in case I find the magic has gone.

I'm glad you found me. I was looking at your journal last night- and I like your style.:)
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2005-02-04 06:16 am (UTC)
It's all there in the 1982 non-fiction best-seller The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which is still in print.

Also, if Brown had researched properly- instead of just reading The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail- he'd have known that the Priory of Sion has long since been revealed as a hoax.


THANK YOU - I've been saying the same bloody thing since Brown's book came out, but all I got were blank stares. I read the book out of curiosity, and "they" didn't mislead you. It makes John Grisham's books seem like high prose. I suspect Brown knew all along the data was false, but recognized the opportunity for a significant financial score in repackaging Holy Blood's central thesis in a pulp fiction format for mass consumption. Either way, he's certainly laughing all the way to the bank.

I'll be passing on the movie when it comes out.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 06:31 am (UTC)
It's odd the things that capture the public imagination. Some bestsellers are trash and some (like the Philip Pullman trilogy) are actually pretty good. There doesn't seem to be any way of predicting success.

Just as well probably or all we'd get would be things written to a formula.
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[User Picture]From: pickwick
2005-02-04 06:26 am (UTC)
I'm a bit unsure that it was a hoax, or was all a hoax, actually, but I haven't read that much about it. I know the guy *says* it was a hoax, but it's possible that either he was misled, or that he was leant on.

I'm totally on the fence in this argument, actually. The person in the Last Supper is obviously a woman, and I've got friends of friends who are high-up Masons and believe all this stuff and have interesting books about it, apparently.

I'm sure the Da Vinci Code isn't a work of art by any means, but I read it before the backlash, and as someone who usually gets offended by badly-written books, I loved it. I was enthralled. If you read it as a straight-up mystery, I think it's earned its status.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2005-02-04 06:29 am (UTC)
This will sound weird, but I think it's somewhat akin to the Harry Potter phenomenon. If you read it with an open mind and just let yourself enjoy it, you will. If you go looking for all of the things that were "stolen" from other works, you will most assuredly find them and if you let yourself, you will be annoyed.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 07:45 am (UTC)
Foucault's Pendulum is good.

Not as good As The Name of The Rose, but not far off.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-02-04 07:21 am (UTC)
I got through two chapters of Da Vinci Code and set it aside. It was boring. I still have it, but it's at the bottom of my pile, 'way under Holzer (who squashes it down some), three Blackwoods, an odd novel about a meteorologist in pre-WWI Alaska who falls in love with an mute Eskimo woman, a bunch of Thomas Moore books (how to get in touch with your soul and understand that it's hunky-dory to be miserable), and a couple of Diana Wynne Jones books Kate has recommended.

Holzer keeps rising to the top, against all laws of physics.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 07:48 am (UTC)
I've got a pile that includes Jane Austen, R.L Stevenson, Holzer and some books I'm meant to be reviewing.

The review books somehow always seem to be at the bottom.
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From: morrison_maiden
2005-02-04 10:37 am (UTC)
I'd heard that The DaVinci Code was good, but I don't know. I think my dad has been wanting to read it, but I hadn't heard that it wasn't so good :\
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 10:50 am (UTC)
Well, the post I've been getting splits roughly 50/50. Some say it's a bore and badly written and others say it's a whole lot of fun.

Yer pays yer money an yer takes yer choice. :)
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-02-04 10:58 am (UTC)
What sheltered lives some people must lead!

I are one. I had heard very little of what was in that book before.

Also, if Brown had researched properly- instead of just reading The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail- he'd have known that the Priory of Sion has long since been revealed as a hoax.

I'm pretty sure he didn't do his own research for this book.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 11:38 am (UTC)
I sort of thought that people who were attracted to a thriller about secret societies and stuff would be likely to know something already about the Priory of Sion and Rosslyn and all that jive.

Not that there's any virtue in it. All this conspiracy stuff is utterly nonsensical- a kind of porn of the intellect.

Does he really not do his own research? How weird.
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[User Picture]From: darlax
2005-02-04 08:27 pm (UTC)
A book in the same style, but written so much better is THE RULE OF FOUR. I suspect you might have read it, however, as your name (I think) is a reference to the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. THE RULE OF FOUR is about a college students who deciphers that ancient text.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 11:47 pm (UTC)
I haven't read Rule of Four, but I probably should. I stumbled across the Hypnerotomachia by another route- looking at Renaissance book illustrations on the Net.
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From: manfalling
2005-02-04 10:36 pm (UTC)
so i read DVC and decried it- simple, stupid, blah blah. but here`s the thing. i went on to devour two of his other books- digital fortress and deception point. someone said they`re like harry potter, and that`S bang on. he shows you a new world and he whizzes around it with constant plot. also reminds me of 24- the TV show. not something i`D wanna watch twice, but something brilliant the first time round when u don`T know what`s gonna happen.
it`s popcorn, i guess. and we can diss brown, but i think he really is a master- cos he holds my attention and he MAKES me keep on reading. he got skills.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-04 11:52 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. And story-telling is one of the basic writerly skills and not every novelist has it. For instance, I love Virginia Woolf, but she really struggles at it.
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