My brother started college last month. He wasn’t much of a reader until recently. He borrowed The Da Vinci Code from a friend and brought it home for me to read in the weekend.
And what a read it has been! I have always been fascinated by mystery (then again, who isn’t?). But this book is so much more than just a mystery. It contains almost everything that awes and fascinates me: mystery, symbolism, intriguing mathematical concepts, history, Art, architecture and exotic locations.
I come from a country which has been home to a people of different faiths for centuries. I have always been fascinated by other religions, especially Christianity. In fact, when I was a child and was learning about Christianity in history classes, I kept making the sign of the cross at every chance I got. However, my knowledge of other religions is only rudimentary (I am a Hindu). I have been meaning to start reading world history books (I vaguely remember the Renaissance period and the Dark Ages from school), but did not know where to start. It would probably be inaccurate to consider The Da Vinci Code as a history book, but for me it was a good start.
Learning about an alternate version of Christianity gives me a glimpse at how the religion has developed and spread. I understand that this book is only a work of fiction and do not believe everything that the author has stated to be true. In fact I researched quite a lot for the authenticity of the claims that Dan Brown made in the book (e.g. about Mary Magdalene and Sarah). But as an aficionado of good storytelling, I must say that Mr. Brown has done one hell of a job. He has cleverly included bits and pieces of history into the book. I have always enjoyed learning about the origin of words and found some good ones in this book (allow me to spill: I was most satisfied by the description of the origins of the word ‘horny’, for I have always wondered how it came to mean what it means in today’s context).
For a brief period in college I was studying the Impressionist Art for an article in my college magazine (which was unfortunately never published) and I enjoyed the Brown’s descriptions of The Last Supper, Mona Lisa, Madonna on the Rocks. I kept searching the images in Google to learn more. And I am so much the wiser because I read this book (but don’t you start to quiz me on Mona Lisa now).
In good story-telling, it is essential to ignite an interest in the reader to find out something more. I have been reading a few books in the last two months and though I have enjoyed them, not one inspired me enough to finish the book in two/three readings. I had been reminding myself what a fast reader I was when I was younger, and wondered what happened to my love of reading until I read this book. And thank God for that! I was really worried that reading had lost its charm for me.
As much as I enjoyed the story-telling, the characters did not interest so much. Maybe, for a Harvard professor, I expected Robert Langdon to be more clever. Apart from his knowledge on symbolism, I felt like he was like a child in the quest of lost treasure.
Nonetheless, Dan Brown has rekindled the love I have for reading and for that I must thank him. There were just so many pieces of historical information (like Opus Dei, Heiros Gamos) which I might never have known had I not read this book. Agreed, the views of the author may not be historically correct, but it is a starting point for me to read more. From here, I trust my mind to find more answers, and unearth more questions in the process.
Have you read The Da Vinci Code? Do you think it hurt Christian sentiments? Or do you feel that as long as a writer writes something that you truly enjoy, you will give the author creative liberty? Please share your thoughts with me.
P.S.: Today, 19th August, is the last day of the reduced offer on my first Kindle ebook, Bound by Life. Buy your copy on Amazon for just $0.99 today!