February 4th, 2005

Austen

I'm re-reading Pride and Prejudice. It's been a long long time. And my perceptions had become terribly distorted.

Austen is deceptive. She'll write these seemingly naive sentences and you'll think how charming, how quaint, how just like Daisy Ashford and then right at the end there'll be a little flick, like the stab of a scorpion's tail. One of the things the dramatizations tend to miss is that these people of hers are all young and inexperienced- even Darcy. His aloofness is less to do with him being Lord Byron and more because he's awkward and earnest and unsure of himself.

I'd like to see P & P done with really young actors. Kids in their late teens and early 20s. I know the characters are supposed to be older than that, but I
think the rules of early 19th century polite society were designed to delay maturity, so that a 28 year old woman or man in Austenland is no smarter than an 18 year old now.

I love the purity of her style. Short sentences, plain words. An 18th century
style- and vastly preferable to that of any English fiction writer for the next 100 years or more.

The Da Vinci Code

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.