Title: The Da Vinci Code
Author: Dan Brown
First edition published: 2003
Publisher: Bantam Press
Lay-Out: There’s a close up from the face of the Mona Lisa on the front cover, but you can see only the upper half of her face. Her face is broke off by some sort of corner being pulled back, showing mysterious signs and codes. Beneath that, the title is printed in big white letters, and beneath that there’s the name of the author in brown letters.
Illustrations: There are no illustrations in the book.
The novel starts off with a short prologue about a curator at The Louvre, Paris – Jacques Saunière. It’s a very confusing prologue, because you don’t exactly know what’s happening. You only know that Saunière is in life threatening danger.
When you start chapter one, however, you first meet Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology at Harvard University. Langdon is staying at the Ritz Hotel in Paris when a police officer comes to get him. The agent insists Langdon has to come to The Louvre, where he has to help Bezu Fache, the Captain of the Judicial Police. Langdon refuses to come at first, but when the agent shows him a picture of the corpse of Jacques Saunière, Langdon comes along.
At The Louvre, Bezu Fache explains to Langdon what’s going on and he shows Langdon the corpse of Saunière in real life. Fache needs Langdon because Saunière did something very strange to himself before he was killed. Saunière was undressed, his clothes were neatly placed on the ground next to him. He was lying spread-eagled on the floor with a symbol made of blood on his abdomen – a pentacle. Fache wants to know what this symbol means. When Langdon explains it has something to do with the sacred feminine, Fache shows him something else – a code. With a black-light pen, Saunière had written a message on the floor, saying: 13-3-2-21-1-1-8-5 O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint!
Langdon doesn’t know what to do with this message. When he and Fache are talking about it, Sophie Neveu turns up. She’s also a symbologist, and turns out to be Saunières granddaughter. She tells Langdon he has to answer a phone call and offers him her cell phone. Confused, Langdon listens to the message, but it turns out to be a message from Neveu for Langdon, telling him that Fache is trying to trick him into confessing that he murdered Saunière. Through the message on the phone, Neveu tells him to come to the men’s room as soon as she had left them. He obeys and they escape The Louvre after a thrilling chase. With one single clou they go to the Swiss Bank and retrieve a small package from a safe which was under the name of Saunière. Inside the package there’s a cryptex, a small circular object which contained a piece of parchment. While Fache is still coming after them, Langdon and Neveu escape the bank.
At the same time, an albino monk called Silas is following orders from The Teacher, an anonymous person who seems to control the whole Catholic Church. They are searching for the Holy Grail, which turns out to be the greatest secret in church history. It appears that Silas has murdered Saunière and by that he retrieved a clou which pointed at Saint-Sulpice, a church in Paris. Silas follows his instructions but they turn out to be deceived by Saunière and that they were looking at the wrong place.
While they are talking about the cryptex, Silas has tracked them down and snuck into the house. He carries a gun and threatens them, but Teabing hits him with one of his crutches. With a knocked out albino monk in the back of the car, they decide to drive towards Teabing’s personal plane to escape France, because they are no longer safe there. Fache is right behind them. They fly to London, following the hints they get out of the cryptex. They visit a church to find more hints, but they are unsuccessful. Then Teabing gets kidnapped. Langdon and Neveu try to find him, but they end up in Westminster Abbey, looking at the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. They get a note that they have to go outside to get Teabing back alive. They go and find that it’s Teabing himself who sent the note. He holds them at gunpoint and explains that he wants the Holy Grail for himself. It turns out that he’s The Teacher. Langdon and Neveu don’t believe him at first, but when he threatens to shoot one of them, they make up a list to deceive him. They manage to hand him over to the police, while they have the note out of the cryptex and the mystery solved. The note says they have to get to Rosslyn. They travel there and they visit the little church. They meet a young man who looks remarkably like Sophie and an elder woman, too. They turn out to be Sophie’s only family – she always thought she didn’t have a family. It appears that she is a descendant of the bloodline of Christ.
With that, the story ends, but there’s an epilogue. It’s about Langdon back in Paris, cleared from all charges that were against him, because he turned out to be innocent. He still hasn’t found the Holy Grail (the grave of Mary Magdalene) but when he’s back in Paris, he suddenly thinks of something. He goes back to the Louvre once he realizes that that’s the place where Mary Magdalene’s grave is. He drops on his knees to pay his respect and that’s where the novel ends.
Assignment: Think of five possible other titles for the book and explain why you think the titles fit the book.
1. So Dark The Con Of Man
This title fits the book because this is one of the codes professor Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu have to decipher.
2. The Blade And The Chalice
This title fits the book because this is what the book is actually about – the blade is a male symbol, the chalice a female symbol. The symbols keep reoccurring in the book and play an important part.
This title is supposed to be in capitals, because you can read it in two ways: San Gréal (Holy Grail) and Sang Réal (Royal Blood). Obviously, these two themes both return in the book.
4. Robert Langdon And The Biggest Secret In Christian History
This title fits the book because it refers to the secret described in the book – that Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail and carried Jesus’ bloodline.
5. The Rose Line Mystery
This possible title refers to the fact that ultimately, to find the Holy Grail, you have to follow the Rose Line. A large amount of the plot of the book depends on the Rose Line.
Assignment: describe the looks of some of the main characters by quoting the book.
Firstly, I’m going to describe Sophie Neveu, the cryptologist Robert Langdon meets up with and whom he travels with throughout the book.
The first time Sophie Neveu appears in the book, she is described in the following text: “She was moving down the corridor with long, fluid strides… a haunting certainty to her gait. Dressed casually in a knee-length, cream-coloured Irish sweater over black leggings, she was attractive and looked to be about thirty. Her thick burgundy hair fell unstyled to her shoulders, framing the warmth of her face.” And just a little further: “… this woman was healthy with an unembellished beauty and genuineness that radiated a striking personal confidence.” And “Her eyes were olive-green – incisive and clear.”
Secondly, I will describe the looks of Silas, the albino monk.
Silas is described as “the hulking albino” with red eyes (“His red eyes scanned the room…”) and white hair and a white skin (“… he donned his ankle-length, hooded robe. It was plain, made of dark wool, accentuating the whiteness of his skin and hair.”). Bishop Aringarosa, another character in the book, says this to Silas: “Indeed, Noah of the Ark. An albino. Like you, he had skin white like an angel.”
Silas also has a severe wound on his left thigh, because of the cilice belt he wears – he’s part of a radical Catholic sect called Opus Dei. This is described in the following text: “… a leather strap, studded with sharp metal barbs that cut into the flesh as a perpetual reminder of Christ’s suffering. (…) Although Silas already had worn his cilice today longer than the requisite two hours, he knew today was no ordinary day. Grasping the buckle, he cinched it one notch higher, wincing as the barbs dug deeper into his flesh.” He also practices so-called ‘corporal mortification’, which basically means he whips himself: “Then, gripping one end of the rope, he closed his eyes and swung it hard over his shoulder, feeling the knots slap against his back. He whipped it over his shoulder again, slashing at his flesh. Again and again, he lashed.”
Assignment: write an article for the newspaper about the story in about 225 words.
AMERICAN SYMBOLOGIST REVEALS CONTROVERSIAL CHURCH SECRET
THE TRUTH ABOUT MARY MAGDALENE
Paris – Yesterday, a spokesman of the French authorities announced an American symbologist professor, Robert Langdon, discovered the truth behind the shady story of the Holy Grail. Mr Langdon wrote a book about his discoveries, which will be published next Monday.
The story of the Holy Grail is an ancient one. Nearly everybody knows something about the Holy Grail – most people believe it is the chalice from which Jesus Christ drank the wine on the day of his crucifixion. Also, Christ’s blood is believed to be caught in this chalice. But according to professor Robert Langdon, an adventurous forty-something, this is absolutely not true. ‘The common misconception of the Holy Grail being an object is as old as the Catholic church itself,’ Langdon says. ‘It was a veil to cover the truth: the Holy Grail being a person.’
Langdon reveals that he found out the Holy Grail isn’t just some random person, but Mary Magdalene, the woman who lived close to Jesus Christ. The Bible says she was a prostitute, ‘but,’ Langdon says, ‘this story was made up by the church so the truth wouldn’t come out.’ And what is this truth? Langdon proclaims: ‘Mary Magdalene was actually Christ’s wife. And there’s something else. She was pregnant when Jesus was crucified. She fled to France and had the baby – a girl, Sarah.’
- ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Da_Vinci_Code - The English Wikipedia website about The Da Vinci Code.
- ‘De Da Vinci Code; Een Zoektocht Naar Antwoorden’ by Josh McDowell