Skip

The Da Vinci Code - real malarkey or plagiarised malarkey?
May 3, 2005 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Page 35 - a Da Vinci scholar finds himself the victim of a dastardly murder (the fourth of his kind to do so). Before he dies, he leaves a message in his own blood on his own body for our hero to find, leading our protagonist (and his heroine, complete with "flashing green eyes" and cleverly hidden links to previously wronged goddess figures) on a quest to find an explosive secret that could shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Paintings, puzzles, keys that aren't keys, safe-deposit boxes in Zurich, stalking assassins and parchments that should be linen abound. Sound familiar? You bet your sweet bippy it does.
posted by obiwanwasabi (41 comments total)

 
Great. So not only is the Da Vinci code terrible history, it's not even original writing. Given that real historians and authors typically work hard, and in obscurity, all their lives, Brown must be laughing all the way to the bank.
posted by gd779 at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2005


Possibly fake review of Dan Brown's well known book by the wronged author.
posted by seanyboy at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2005


Maybe The Da Vinci Code will now win the Booker Prize...
posted by ~rschram at 5:49 PM on May 3, 2005


Something to follow up ..they're both getting publicity for this, the winner will probably take it all.
posted by elpapacito at 5:56 PM on May 3, 2005


I finally got around to reading the Da Vinci code. Some interesting ideas, yes - but terrible prose - I think he describes the hero of the novel as looking like Harrison Ford within the first two pages.
posted by GriffX at 5:57 PM on May 3, 2005


It already won best book at the British Book Awards. Seriously.

I'm not normally a book snob or particularly concerned with what other people enjoy reading but I so profoundly disliked this book that it has actually affected my perception of people who thought it was good. In other words: IT'S A FUCKING APPLE YOU FUCKING MORONS. GOD.
posted by fshgrl at 6:11 PM on May 3, 2005


In the Illuminatus trilogy, Simon Moon has sex with a giant apple. With a vagina.

This is big! This is really big. I hope Dan Brown gets seriously litigated into author purgatory. However, I haven't read the Da Vinci Legacy; it could quite possibly suck worse than the Code.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:16 PM on May 3, 2005


Balrog, George Dorn has sex with the apple, not Simon. Simon's the one who has tantric sex with the black woman near the beginning.

Anyway, yeah, while reading Da Vinci Code I seriously had to keep checking the label to make sure it wasn't written by R.L. Stine. I hope he gets sued for the writing alone.
posted by Ndwright at 6:23 PM on May 3, 2005


Every time someone references The Da Vinci Code, I feel obliged to recommend JG Ballard's short story "The Lost Leonardo" (if you can find it), but this is the first time I've done so where I think the audience is likely to appreciate it!

/derail
posted by kimota at 6:36 PM on May 3, 2005


HA! good call Kimota....
posted by Elim at 6:56 PM on May 3, 2005


The Da Vinci Code, as fully noted here and elsewhere, is schlock; to find points of congruence between it and any other work of schlock is hardly surprising.

Whether this guy's claim has any merit or not I cannot tell, as he buries it in all sorts of flyweight coincidentals. It reads like a post facto Nostradamus apologia.
posted by Nahum Tate at 7:07 PM on May 3, 2005


I don't know why this makes me so happy.
posted by absalom at 7:46 PM on May 3, 2005


I think that I read the first paragraph or so of The Da Vinci Code. I really could not keep reading. Not even to laugh at it.

I can't imagine that he plagiarized it. That would mean that he was working from a previously published source. That source would have likely been proofread before it was published and, as it stands, The Da Vinci Code bears no evidence that any editor had anything to do with its creation, at any point.
posted by Jon-o at 8:14 PM on May 3, 2005


This guy needs to get in line. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were widely published much earlier. They're suing.

If this claim of plagarism is true, then Lewis Perdue might not be so original himself.
posted by warbaby at 8:27 PM on May 3, 2005


So, should I just check out the Da Vinci Code from my local library, rather than purchasing it? Or should I just try an pick up the Dune saga again?

I've just heard so many jokes and wise-cracks about the Da Vinci Code, I finally got feed up and wanted to be part of the group laughing about the book. Like that one episode of the Daily Show were they give a synopsis of the Da Vinci Code, but it's not the actual synopsis of the Da Vinci Code but Dan Brown's previous book.

Anyway, all this negative criticism has made me determined to read the book. It can't be that bad, right? My Mom mentioned someone sky-dives out of plane and uses a windbreaker to break his fall.

Man, I gotta read this book.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:05 PM on May 3, 2005


I thought it was a good book, especially if you've been to most of the places he talks about. Gives you a real sense of being there.

If he plagiarised any of it then he's just a complete asshat.

Innocent until proven guilty and all that.
posted by reflection at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2005


Brown also plagiarizes himself. All four of his books share the same set of plot elements, especially the last two which are in the same world. Here's a comparison of the previous book with Da Vinci Code (spoilers obviously):

Angels & Demons:
Robert Langdon is awoken in the middle of the night and swept to the ritually mutilated body at the scene of a murder. Four high-ranking Cardinals are being killed by a black-eyed assassin, controlled by a faceless commander, fulfilling an ancient prophecy by a secret society to undermine the Church. The body is that of the father of beautiful Italian bio-entanglement physicist Vittoria Vetra, who vows revenge and embarks on a frantic hunt with Langdon to decode clues hidden in the famed artwork of Vatican City and find the killer with the help of a crippled, possibly evil physicist and save Catholicism before it's too late. After all, the conspiracy is found to be merely the acts of a rogue Bishop and his depraved henchman. Having fallen madly in love, Robert and Vittoria are about to have wild tantric sex when the book ends.

Da Vinci Code:
Robert Langdon is awoken in the middle of the night and swept to the ritually mutilated body at the scene of a murder. Four high-ranking members of the art world are being killed by a red-eyed assassin, controlled by a faceless commander, fulfilling an ancient prophecy by a secret society to undermine the Church. The body is that of the grandfather of beautiful French cryptographer Sophie Neveu, who vows revenge and embarks on a frantic hunt with Langdon to decode clues hidden in the famed artwork of Paris and find the killer with the help of a crippled, possibly evil historian and save Catholicism before it's too late. After all, the conspiracy is found to be merely the acts of a rogue Bishop and his depraved henchman. Having fallen madly in love, Robert and Sophie make a date. It is never mentioned that this is isn't the first time Robert's saved Catholicism, or that he still hasn't asked for a "thank you."
posted by abcde at 10:26 PM on May 3, 2005 [2 favorites]


bwah!
posted by stenseng at 12:03 AM on May 4, 2005


SPOILERS SPOILERS! Yeah, it was shoddily written, but the chapters are short and it's a quick read. But sure, there are several places in the book where you have to hurl the book against the wall: The French female cop is shocked at seeing a transvestite in the Bois de Bologne, and Langdon has to calm her. Jebus! She's a french cop!! She must have seen thousands of transvestites in Paris (I know I did). And the true reason why she broke off contact with the grandfather for ten years is ludicrous. A week, tops. But in spite of the pedestrian writing, the lame-o plot, and the flat characters, I read it. I like tripe. I don't mind watching Magnum PI. As for plagiarism, I don't see what the big deal is. Art is imitation. And trash literature too.
posted by Panfilo at 12:17 AM on May 4, 2005


That book made me long for the simple, pared down, lucid, elegant prose of Joseph Conrad.

Dan Brown is a hack job that, alas, has found an audience.
posted by Dagobert at 1:18 AM on May 4, 2005


I remember asking myself why I chose to waste two days of my life reading this "book". I remember thinking of how many boring characters, plot holes, and really shitty writing there was, but now, six months later, I can't remember a single one of them to comment on.

It would be a good day if Dan Brown went from being a shitty rich author to a shitty poor one.
posted by futureproof at 1:27 AM on May 4, 2005


I can at least claim to have not wasted any time reading DVC. I checked out the books-on-tape version for my 1 hour each way commute. I'm sure other drivers were wondering why I was shouting & throwing stuff in my car.

I feel for the guy who thinks he's been plagiarized (remember how strongly we felt about academic plagiarism?) but as someone else said, his version doesn't seem all that original either.

Both are turgid.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:14 PM on May 4, 2005


This guy needs to get in line. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were widely published much earlier.

To his credit, he mentions HBHG as an inspiration in the Variety article.

In other words: IT'S A FUCKING APPLE YOU FUCKING MORONS. GOD.


I had exactly the same reaction to exactly the same thing. Reading The Da Vinci Code was sort of like watching an idiot play Circle of Blood.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:30 PM on May 4, 2005


Wow. I'm a bit confused by the venomous scorn heaped on this book. It's popular fiction for heaven's sake, what did you expect? Of all the books jammed through the NYT Best Seller list, this is FAR from the worst. I found the writing, particularly the dialogue, in Celestine Prophecy unforgivable, and well below Dan Brown's prose.

Heck, I hold not the least bit of shame in admitting that I liked it quite a lot. Yes the writing is nothing to brag about, specific plot elements are ridiculous (as pointed out by Panfilo) and the overall premise is a gigantic stretch; cobbled together bits of historical premise exaggerated beyond credibility. But even so, for those of us who had not encountered most of the ideas presented as theory in the book, it really opened our eyes to some alternative thoughts on the mother church and JC.

Look, this book caused me to get on the internet and seek out actual historic works, the gnostic bibles, and other legitimate material. How often does a work of fiction do that for you?
posted by Osteo at 7:05 PM on May 4, 2005


I'm kinda where Osteo is. It's popular fiction, a beach book, a "literary" version of a popcorn flick. People are taking this book way too seriously.
posted by deborah at 7:23 PM on May 4, 2005


I love popular fiction. Some of my best friends are popular fiction.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:28 PM on May 4, 2005


You know how the onion has those one picture w/ caption articles on their front page?

A couple months ago, they had one that was a picture of a pile of broken trash covered with copies of The DaVinci Code. The Caption was "Hundreds of copies of The Davinci Code found among wreckage of downed passenger 747."

I laughed a lot.
posted by shmegegge at 7:56 PM on May 4, 2005


Dave Barry had a funny parody of the Da Vinci Code too.
posted by straight at 8:04 PM on May 4, 2005


I so profoundly disliked this book that it has actually affected my perception of people who thought it was good.

Out of curiosity...

Would you say that the kind of people that like the Da Vinci Code are the same sorts of people that raved about The Celestian Prophecy?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:10 PM on May 4, 2005



Look, this book caused me to get on the internet and seek out actual historic works, the gnostic bibles, and other legitimate material. How often does a work of fiction do that for you?


I dunno, man. I had to read half the fucking Encyclopaedia Britannica and a good third of the OED before I fgot past the first chapter of Ulysses.

You're right, though. Trash is harmless fun (I read The Da Vinci Code one night while unable to sleep). People who get uptight about these things are usually snobs, whose own particular tastes are not necessarily that well justified. A true elitist does not feel threatened by these things. He can even enjoy them. ;-)
posted by Jongo at 12:57 AM on May 5, 2005


I hope the HBHG people get some money (not that they're lacking in it at the moment, I suppose). When someone told me about Da Vinci Code I was astonished how much he'd appropriated. HBHG is terrific in its own way - much like Castaneda, it's a conjuring trick but brilliantly done.

My favourite book to use the Cathars (who are my favourite bit of this fabric of myth) is Ken Campbell's (difficult to find) Violin Time, with a special mention for Arthur Guirdham's The Cathars and Reincarnation.

The Celestine Prophecy is the worst book I have ever read, bar none. I was trapped on a very very delayed and packed train between London and Edinburgh with only it for anything approximating entertainment.

Anyone who really wants to read the unreadable on the road to spiritual development is probably better off seeking out Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson. That'll get yer impartial mentation going.
posted by Grangousier at 1:55 AM on May 5, 2005


It's like a 'tard version of Foucaults Pendulum.

"Everything within this novel is a fact!"

No Dan, it isn't - it's piss poor research cribbed from a shitty tongue in cheek conspiracy book written in the 70's with some extra "sacred feminine" goodness thrown in. Dan Brown has some gall claiming his works are well researched - it looks like most of his information came off the back of a packet of cereal and just means that even more people become ill informed about the subject.
posted by longbaugh at 5:22 AM on May 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


Mr. Perdue is among us. Play nice.
posted by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot at 6:49 AM on May 5, 2005


Ot/one/h, I'll agree that DVC is harmless fluff. Ot/other/h, it's also kinda like The Name of the Rose for Dummies(tm).

Why do I express such distaste for it? Because I am an editor--wait--it's not that I think I can do a better job writing such a tale; if I could, I'd rip off Big Jim Thompson and remake Pop. 1280 or The Killer Inside Me.

No, it's just that people I love and care for want to give me books that mean a lot to them, and I treasure these people. It is inappropriate to refuse a gift that is well meant, but if I get another Tom Clancy or Patricia Clark Higgins book from my relatives, I swear I might kill. (and yes, I've already suggested alternate gifts--like donating to charities, etc.--I really don't need more stuff)

So instead, I rant and rale at these authors who take a modicum of wit and turn out such drivel.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:09 AM on May 5, 2005


I haven't read it but my understanding is with longbaugh--every time it's mentioned I try to recommend Foucault's Pendulum.
posted by kenko at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2005


I so profoundly disliked this book that it has actually affected my perception of people who thought it was good.

Exactly, DVC is not merely a bad book, it is the essence of what is bad and wrong with the book industry. It was the only book I had on a trans-Atlantic flight and I seriously considered asking them to turn the plane around. Thank God that Dan Brown didn't try and write a sex scene.
posted by LarryC at 8:33 AM on May 5, 2005


"Renowned curator Jacquest Saurniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece towards himself until it tore from the wall and Sauniere collapsed backward in the heap beneath the canvas.

As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell nearby, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring.

The curator lay a moment, gasping for breath, taking stock. I am still alive. He crawled out from under the canvas and scanned the cavernous space for someplace to hide.

A voice spoke, chillingly close. "Do not move."

On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.

Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was brought and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils. The albino drew a pistol from his coat and aimed the barrel through the bars, directly at the curator. "you should not have run." His accent was not easy to place. "Now tell me where it is."

"I told you already," the curator stammered, kneeling defenseless on the floor of the gallery. "I have no idea what you are talking about!"

"You are lying." The man stared at him, perfectly immobile except for the glint in his ghostly eyes. "You and your brethren possess something that is not yours."

The curator felt a surge of adrenaline. How could he possibly know this?"

(Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, p. 1)
posted by felix at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2005 [2 favorites]


Don't get me wrong: I like trashy novels a lot. I like nothing better than settling in for a long flight with a Patricia Cornwall or Jonathan Kellerman. The Da Vinci Code wasn't a good trashy novel though. The characters were horrible, every attempt at suspense (approx 100 million) fell totally flat, it was sexist and borderline racist at times and completely unbelievable. It was like a poorly done rip-off of a Clive Cussler book. Which is a level of bad I never thought I would see.

I think they have totally missed the boat on this movie version hiring Tom Hanks. If it had had Austin Powers as Langdon and Juliette Lewis as the physicist? Comedy gold.
posted by fshgrl at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2005


I was bewildered by the book at first mostly because Brown was supposed to have taught English at Phillips Andover (those who cannot do, teach, I guess) and therefore should have known better.

My guess now is that the whole thing was done in large part as a joke, a joke that got away from him big time, and now he has to take is seriously, or at least pretend to.

Unlike the folks behind this turkey
posted by IndigoJones at 3:59 PM on May 5, 2005


It might be interesting for people to look at the data first hand.

This page: http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/ has all the legal filings.

In addition, this page has some other interesting facts: http://davincicrock.blogspot.com/

Of all the legal filings, the following two specifically delineate the plagiarism:

http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/PerduevBrown-Amended-010605.pdf
http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/Perdue-April8-Filings/index.shtml

There is also an expert witness report from John Olsson, head of the Forensic Linguistics Institute in the U.K. His data can be found (also under oath) here:

http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/Perdue-April8-Filings/Declaration%20Gabriel%20Olsson.pdf

If the .pdf images from court documents are not clear enough, it's also found here:

http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/expert-report.html
posted by lperdue at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2005


AND ....

Dan Brown refuses to testify under oath that he did or did not do the research, and so any of the Random Arguments based on this are legally invalid.

In fact, Random House has refused to allow Dan Brown to file an affidavit attesting that he did NOT rip off my books or that he actually wrote The Da Vinci Code.

I testified under oath. Why not Dan Brown? An affidavit is an easy no-brainer. Yet, their failure to do so basically means that they are admitting defeat on huge amounts of their previous arguments, such as the shared historical research.

One of the first things one learns in debate is that if there is an easy way to silence the other side on an issue, you do that and move on. Affidavits are as easy as things come, yet they have not done that. Why?
posted by lperdue at 8:26 AM on May 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


« Older The Vepsa   |   annoyed grunt Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post