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Da Vinci Code: A readers note.

Indranil Sarkar 29-09-2013

Dan Brown (June 22, 1964---) Dan Brown, the professor of English literature, published his fourth and the best Cryptographic Thriller, Da Vinci Code in 2003.It is a suspense packed thriller that has unraveled the Greatest Conspiracy of the past 2000 years. Daniel Brown popularly known as Dan Brown is the son of an esteemed musician mother and a Professor of mathematics father. The upbringing in a highly intellectual environment generated a strong inquisitiveness in Brown. Both the parents were believers of Episcopal school of Christianity. There were always highly intellectual debates on Christianity and a quest for unveiling the unsolved mathematical puzzles in the household. These made young Brown interested in spending hours to unveil the hidden meanings of anagrams and crossword puzzles. However, his curiosity gradually shifted to the mysteries associated with Christianity. The conflict between Science and Religion made him to study the encrypted and unsolved messages scattered all

over Europe in various artistic works. Again, his enchantment to Thrillers developed while on holiday in Tahiti in 1993, Brown read Sidney Sheldons novel The Doomsday Conspiracy quite by chance. Beside Sheldon, Brown was influenced by Robert Ludlums plots of large-scale international thrillers, John Steinbecks narrative skills and Shakespeares art of wordplay. Literally, a Thriller is defined as a novel having Suspense as its main characteristics. The plot develops through apprehension and exhilaration, excitement and breathlessness. Thriller follows Aristotles concept of having a breathless thrilling suspense all through the story. This is because "Aristotle's concept of fear can best be understood by the word suspense said Ari Hiltunen. In laymans language, if a story "thrills", it is a thriller. Homers Odyssey and Basdevs Mahabharata may be considered as the earliest thrillers. In a thriller, the Protagonist or the Protagonists use Cunning tricks in stead of brutal force to solve the problems. Dan Brown has written six Thrillers so far. His novels feature the recurring themes of cryptography, keys, symbols, codes, and conspiracy theories. Browns favorite subjects include codes, puzzles, treasure hunts, secretive organizations and academic lectures on obscure topics as such he tends to incorporate those into his novels. His books have been translated into 52 languages so far, and as of 2012, sold over 200 million copies. He is one of the most-read novelists of the present generation. Two of his novels Angels & Demon and Da Vinci Code have already been adapted for films. Browns novels are research-intensive in nature. And Brown himself said in an interview that he deliberately mixed facts with fiction in his novels. Most of his characters are named after real life personalities and his friends. The common hero of his novels Robert Langdon is

named after his artist friend John Langdon. Brown hinted that he (Robert Langdon) will be the hero in at least 12 of his novels to be written in future. Da Vinci Code is called a Religious thriller having the big idea of the mystery surrounding the personal life of Jesus. The plot of the novel Da Vinci Code centers on a few messages of Jesus that were supposedly encrypted in the artworks of Leonardo Da Vinci, the Renaissance polymath. According to Dan Brown, Da Vinci was a member of an ancient secret society called the "Priory of Sion" along with Newton, the Italian painter, Botticelli, the French author, Victor Hugo, and many other prominent historical personalities. The secret society was dedicated to preserving a few "truths" related to Jesus personal life. These were (1) Jesus wanted to designate Mary Magdalene as His successor;(2)Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children and (3) The Holy Grail of legend and lore is in reality Mary Magdalene, the "Sacred feminine," the vessel who carried Jesus' children. These messages were encrypted in his artwork like the Last Supper, The Madonna etc.; and we are told how the museums curator Jacques Sauniere was murdered by a monk of Opus Dei named Silas for the information regarding the Holy Grail and how the murderer and the Holy Grail was finally detected by deciphering the symbolic message of Sauniere by Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology and Sophie Neveu, an agent in the

Department of Cryptology as well as the grand daughter of Jacques Saunire

Courtyard of the Louvre Museum, with the Pyramid

The story begins in the style of a traditional Thriller. In the Louvre of France, a monk of Opus Dei named Silas approaches Jacques Saunire, the museums curator, and asks him where the Holy Grail is. Saunire finds no alternative but to answer him. The purpose being solved, Silas shoots him and leaves him to die. However, Saunire knowing well the danger of the revelation lies to Silas about the Grails actual location. Realizing that he has only a few minutes to live and that he must pass on his important secret, Saunire paints a pentacle on his stomach with his own blood, draws a circle with his blood, and drags himself into the center of the circle, re-creating the position of Da Vincis Vitruvian Man. He also leaves a code, a line of numbers, and two lines of text on the ground in invisible ink. In the next step a police detective, Jerome Collet, calls Robert Langdon, the protagonist of the story and a professor of symbology, and asks him to come to the Louvre and try to interpret the meaning of the symbol and code that the dead man leaves behind.

Courtyard of the Museum of Louvre, and its pyramid

To enhance the thrill it has been revealed latter that Langdon does not yet realize that he himself is suspected of the murder. After murdering Saunire, Silas calls the Teacher and tells him that, according to Saunire, the keystone is in the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. The Teacher sends Silas there. Silas follows Saunires clues to the keystones location and discovers that he has been tricked.

In a fit of rage, he kills Sister Sandrine Bieil, the churchs keeper and a sentry for the Priory of Sion. At the Louvre, Langdon meets Jerome Collet and Bezu Fache, the police captain, and realizes that the two policemen suspect him of the murder. This part of the story increases the suspense and hints the complexity of the plot. At this point Sophie appears. She meets Langdon and alerts him about police marking his activities. She then takes Langdon into the bathroom and shrewdly damages the tracking instrument and thus compels the police to think that Langdon had left the louvre. Next, Sophie helps Langdon to understand the actual meaning of P.S in the symbolic message of Saunire. Sophie tells Langdon that P.S. actually refers to the initials of her grandfathers nickname for her, Princesse Sophie and not "Priory of Sion" as he thinks. Using the hint, Langdon decodes the second and third line of the message as: Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Lisa! Sophie then uses a few intelligent tricks and makes herself and Lyngdon free from the police. She also detects a key behind the

Madonna of the Rocks. Ultimately she and Lyngdon reach to Swiss Bank and
by using the number in Saunires symbolic message open the vault. There, they find another cryptex, a typical device that was used by Vinci to send messages. But a cryptex requires a password to open. So, they start to find out the pass word. With the help of the bank manager Vernet, they manage to

escape from the bank. Langdon takes the Cryptex with him .Then they meet a history professor Sir Leigh Teabing and ask him to help opening the Cryptex.

Sir Teabing tells the truth about Jesus and also affirms that Jesus is actually married to Mary Magdalene and they had children as well. Mary Magdalene was of Royal inheritance. Teabing further shows them the hidden symbols in The Last Supper and the painted representation of the Magdalene. He tells them that the Holy Grail is actually Mary Magdalenes body and the documents that prove Marys blood line is related to Jesus.
St. John and Jesus from The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. Brown says that in this painting Da Vinci is telling us that the figure always identified as John the Evangelist is really Mary Magdalene, and that these two figures together form an "M," and that, because there is no grail in the picture, Da Vinci is telling us the "grail" is the sacred feminine of Mary Magdalene.

Ultimately the mystery is divulged. It has also been revealed that Sophie has a direct inheritance from Mary Magdalene. The novel ends with the union of Langdon and Sophie.

Dan brown claims in the introduction of the book that everything he described here was based on authentic and true evidences. In the book The Da Vinci Code, Brown tries to establish the answers of the following questions that have been haunting humanity since the birth of Christianity.

i.Was Jesus Married? ii.Did the Early Church suppress 80 Gospels and keep them from inclusion in the New Testament? iii.Are the New Testament documents reliable history? iv.Did the Council of Nicea vote to make Jesus divine? v.Was the "Sacred Feminine" part of early Christian belief? Brown finds all the answers to be affirmative. These are furnished by Sir Teabing with documentary evidences as well as the contents of the Cryptex. Brown bases these assertions on one of Plantard's forged

documents called Les Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau ("The Secret Records of Henri Lobineau").

**** Links, References & Acknowledgements:

i. ii. iii. iv. v. Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown translated in Bengali by Md.Nazimuddin.