Essential Architecture-  Architecture in the Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code Notes on the book


Author Dan Brown 
Country United States 
Language English 
Genre(s) Thriller, Crime, Religion 
Publisher Doubleday (USA) & Bantam (UK) 
Released 18 March 2003 (USA) & 1 July 2003 (UK) 
Media Type Print (Hardback & Paperback) also Audio book 
Pages 454 p. (US hardback edition) & 359 p. (UK hardback edition) 
ISBN ISBN 0385504209 (US hardback edition), ISBN 0593052447 (UK hardback edition) & ISBN 1400079179 (US paperback edition) 


The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction (ISBN 0385504209). It is a worldwide bestseller with sales of more than 40 million copies (as of March 2006) and has been translated into 44 languages. Combining the detective, thriller and conspiracy theory genres, the book is part two of a trilogy that started with Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, which introduced the character Robert Langdon. In November 2004, Random House published a "Special Illustrated Edition", with 160 illustrations interspersed with the text.

The plot of the novel involves a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the "true" story of Jesus. The Vatican knows it is living a lie but does so to keep itself in power. The novel has helped generate popular interest in speculation concerning the Holy Grail legend and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity. Fans have lauded the book as creative, action-packed and thought-provoking. Critics have attacked it as inaccurate and poorly written, and decry the many negative implications about the Catholic Church and Opus Dei.

The book opens with the claim by Dan Brown that "all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate"; but this claim is disputed by many academic scholars in the fields the book discusses (see Criticisms of The Da Vinci Code and the further reading list below). As widely noted in the media, there has been substantial confusion among readers about whether the book is factual. Numerous works have been published that explain in detail why any claim to accuracy is difficult to substantiate.

The plot is similar to that of Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco.

Plot summary

US 1st edition cover

US Mass market paperback

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The book concerns the attempts of Robert Langdon, Professor of "Religious Symbology" at Harvard University, to solve the murder of renowned curator Jacques Saunière (see Bérenger Saunière) of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title of the novel refers, among other things, to the fact that Saunière's body is found in the Denon Wing of the Louvre naked and posed like Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, with a cryptic message written beside his body and a Pentagram drawn on his stomach in his own blood. The interpretation of hidden messages inside Leonardo's famous works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, figure prominently in the solution to the mystery.

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci.

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci.

The main conflict in the novel revolves around the solution to two mysteries:

What secret was Saunière protecting that led to his murder? 
Who is the mastermind behind his murder? 
The novel has several concurrent storylines that follow different characters. Eventually all the storylines are brought together and resolved at the end of the book.

The unraveling of the mystery requires the solution to a series of brain-teasers, including anagrams and number puzzles. The solution itself is found to be intimately connected with the possible location of the Holy Grail and to a mysterious society called the Priory of Sion, as well as to the Knights Templar. The Catholic organization "Opus Dei" (a caricature of the real Opus Dei) also figures prominently in the plot.

The novel is the second book of a trilogy by Brown in which Robert Langdon is the main character. The previous book, Angels and Demons, took place in Rome and concerned the Illuminati. Although Angels and Demons is centered around the same character it is not necessary to read the book in order to understand the plot of The Da Vinci Code. The next book is tentatively scheduled for release in 2006 or 2007, and the working title is The Solomon Key.

Characters in "The Da Vinci Code"

These are the principal characters that drive the plot of the story. It seems to be Dan Brown's style that many have names that are puns, anagrams or hidden clues:

Robert Langdon – A well-respected professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. At the beginning of the story, he is in Paris to give a lecture on his work. Having made an appointment to meet Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, he is startled to find the French police at his hotel room door. They inform him that Saunière has been murdered and they would like his immediate assistance at the Louvre to help them solve the crime. Unbeknownst to Langdon, he is in fact the prime suspect in the murder and has been summoned to the scene of the crime in order that the police may extract a confession from him. It might be no coincidence that a John Langdon was the real graphic artist who designed the ambigrams in Brown's novel, Angels and Demons, the first of the Robert Langdon trilogy. 

Jacques Saunière – the curator of the Louvre, head of the secret Priory of Sion, and grandfather of Sophie Neveu. Before being murdered by Silas (an albino monk) in the museum, he reveals false information to Silas about the Priory's keystone, which contains information about the true location of the Holy Grail. After being shot in the stomach, he uses the last minutes of his life to arrange a series of clues for his estranged granddaughter, Sophie, to unravel the mystery of his death and preserve the secret kept by the Priory of Sion. Saunière's name may be based on Bérenger Saunière, a real person who was extensively mentioned in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. 

Sophie Neveu – the granddaughter of Jacques Saunière. She is a French government cryptographer, who studied at the elite Royal Holloway, University of London Information Security Group. She was raised by her grandfather from an early age, after her parents were killed in a car accident. Her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (as is revealed later, she and her grandfather are descendants of the Merovingians) and trained her to solve complicated word puzzles. As a young girl, she accidentally discovered a strange key in her grandfather's room inscribed with the initials "P.S.". Later, as a college student, she made a surprise visit to her grandfather's house in Normandy and observed him participating in the Hieros Gamos, a sex ritual. The incident led to her estrangement with her grandfather for ten years until the night of his murder. 

Bezu Fache – a captain in the Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire (DCPJ), the French criminal investigation police. Tough, canny, persistent, he is in charge of the investigation of Saunière's murder. From the message left by the dying curator, he is convinced the murderer is Robert Langdon, whom he summons to the Louvre in order to extract a confession. He is thwarted in his early attempt by Sophie Neveu, who knows Langdon to be innocent and surreptitiously notifies Langdon that he is in fact the prime suspect. He pursues Langdon doggedly throughout the book in the belief that letting him get away would be career suicide. "Bezu" is not a common French personal name, but "le Bezu" is the name of a castle in Rennes-le-Château with Cathar associations; Rennes-le-Château is the town in which Bérenger Saunière served as Catholic priest. When we first encounter Fache, he is compared to an ox; note that "Bezu" is an anagram (and the spoonerism) of zebu (zébu in French), a type of ox. Fâché is French for "angry", but "Fache" is also a reasonably common French surname, although it is pronounced differently from fâché. 

Silas – an albino devotee of Opus Dei who practices severe corporal mortification. He was orphaned in Marseille as a young man, fell into a life of crime, and was imprisoned in Andorra in the Pyrenees until freed by an earthquake. He finds refuge with a young Spanish priest named Aringarosa, who gives him the name Silas. (Aringarosa eventually becomes the head of Opus Dei.) Before the beginning of the events in the novel, Aringarosa puts him in contact with the Teacher and tells him that the mission he will be given is of utmost importance in saving the true Word of God. Under the orders of the Teacher, he murders Jacques Saunière and the other three leaders of the Priory of Sion in order to extract the location of the Priory's clef de voûte or "keystone". Discovering later that he has been duped with false information, he chases Langdon and Neveu in order to obtain the actual keystone. He does not know the true identity of the Teacher. He is reluctant to commit murder, knowing that it is a sin, and does so only because he is assured his actions will save the Catholic Church. 

Bishop Manuel Aringarosa – the worldwide head of Opus Dei and the patron of the albino monk Silas. Five months before the start of the narrative, he is summoned by the Vatican to a meeting at an astronomical observatory in the Italian Alps and told, to his great surprise, that in six months the Pope will withdraw his support of Opus Dei. Since he believes that Opus Dei is the force keeping the Church from disintegrating into what he sees as the corruption of the modern era, he believes his faith demands that he take action to save Opus Dei. Shortly after the meeting with the Vatican officials, he is contacted by a shadowy figure calling himself "The Teacher", who has learned somehow of the secret meeting. The Teacher informs him that he can deliver an artifact to Aringarosa so valuable to the Church that it will give Opus Dei extreme leverage over the Vatican. The name "Aringarosa" seems to be the (approximate) literal Italian translation of "red herring" ("aringa rossa"; "aringa rosa" means, literally, "pink herring"), although this is not the expression used in Italian for "red herring" in its figurative sense. It could have a loose relation to "A Ring Around The Rosies" (A-Ring-a-Rosa) where Rosa could refer to the rose line, or the various other rose symbology in the novel. 

The Teacher – a shadowy figure who drives the plot of the story. He has learned not only about the plight of Opus Dei, but also the identities of the four leaders of the Priory of Sion, who in turn know the location of the keystone. He contacts Aringarosa and agrees to supply him with a fantastic artifact that will give Opus Dei great power, namely documents that, if released, would destroy the Church. Aringarosa, acting out of self interest and piety, agrees to his offer in order to save both Opus Dei and the Church. The Teacher uses Silas, Aringarosa's protectee, to carry out his plans. 
André Vernet – president of the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. He is informed of Neveu and Langdon being wanted by the Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire by a security guard who recognized them from a television news report he had been watching before they had entered the bank. When Neveu and Langdon arrive Vernet met with them, his only plan in mind to get rid of them before the police arrive. They inform him that Jacques Saunière, a longtime account holder at the bank, has died and that Neveu now possesses the depository key, a Gold Key, to the account but did not know the account number. He is incapable of helping with the account information and leaves Neveu and Langdon alone to buy time from the police. Neveu and Langdon access the bank account with the key and figure out the account number after examining one of Saunière's clues he left behind, and retrieved a rosewood box from Saunière's safety deposit. When Vernet returns he is shocked to learn Neveu and Langdon figured out the account number. He is motivated to help them escape undetected for a primary reason: he does not want the bank to get bad publicity since Saunière was a close friend of his. Acting as a bank driver, he bluffs his way past the police in one of the bank's trucks with Langdon and Neveu concealed in the cargo-hold. He later attempts to retrieve the rosewood box he believes they had stolen from Saunière after he hears on the radio Langdon is wanted for the murder of three others, the three other high ranking members of the Priory of Sion, the sènèchaux, and turn them in but he is thwarted by Langdon, who steals the truck and escapes with Neveu to the nearby château of his friend, Sir Leigh Teabing. 

Sir Leigh Teabing – British Royal Historian, a Knight of the Realm, Grail scholar, and friend of Robert Langdon. Independently wealthy, he lives outside Paris in a château, where Langdon and Neveu take refuge after escaping from the Depository Bank of Zurich with the rosewood box containing the keystone. He reveals the "real" interpretation of the Grail to Neveu (see below). After they are discovered at his home simultaneously by Silas and the French police, the three of them flee with his chauffeur Rémy, flying to England in his private jet. They take Silas with them bound and gagged. After Neveu solves the combination lock of the keystone, he interprets the enclosed riddle as meaning they should go to the Temple Church in London to find the next hidden clue that will let them unlock the second combination lock of the keystone. Note that Sir Leigh's name is an anagram of the surnames of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh — authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book which espouses very similar beliefs to Sir Leigh's. 

Rémy Legaludec – manservant and chauffeur to Leigh Teabing. After flying with Teabing, Langdon, and Neveu to England, he drives them to the Temple Church in London. Unbeknownst to the others, he is in fact working for the Teacher. While they are inside the Temple Church, he rescues Silas, who was tied up by the other three. Armed with a pistol, he enters the church before the others can locate and solve the riddle supposedly hidden there. He takes Teabing hostage and demands the keystone from Langdon. When Langdon gives him the keystone, he and Silas flee in his car with Teabing as hostage. Rémy Martin is a famous brand of cognac, and cognac plays a role in Rémy's fate. 

Lieutenant Collet – a lieutenant in the Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire (DCPJ). He is Fache's second-in-command in the case. Mostly a disappointment to Fache, Collet tries to redeem himself throughout the novel, but is also motivated by his own craving for glory and fear of risking his career by ignoring Fache's orders. By the end of the investigation Collet manages to share in the spotlight and to save Fache undue embarrassment by crediting him for the arrest of the Teacher while also claiming that his misguided intent to arrest Neveu and Langdon was a ruse to draw out the real killer. By the end of the book Fache says of him, "A good man, that Collet." 

The docent at Rosslyn Chapel – he is giving a guided tour of Rosslyn Chapel to Langdon and Neveu when he sees the rosewood box they are carrying and realizes that it seems to be an exact duplicate of a box owned by his grandmother, who is the head of the trust that oversees the chapel. He is revealed to be Sophie's brother. 

Guardian of the Rosslyn Trust – she is, in fact, Marie Chauvel, the wife of Jacques Saunière and Sophie Neveu's grandmother. The docent is Sophie's brother. Believing that they had been targeted for assassination by the Church for knowing the powerful secret of the Priory of Sion, she and Saunière agreed that she and Sophie's brother should live secretly in Scotland. Only Sophie's parents were in the car at the time even though the whole family was supposed to be there. Saunière told the authorities that Sophie's grandmother and her brother were in the car. She tells Neveu and Langdon that although the Holy Grail and the secret documents were once buried in the vault of Rosslyn Chapel, they were removed to France by the Priory of Sion only several years ago. Reading the parchment inside the second keystone, she realizes where the Grail is now hidden, but refuses to tell Langdon, saying he will figure it out eventually on his own. According to her, the Priory of Sion never intended to reveal the secret of the Grail according to any set timetable. She believes that such a revelation is unnecessary anyway, since the true nature and spiritual power of the Grail is emerging into the world without the location of the actual artifact being revealed. She also informs Sophie Neveu of her true identity through her bloodline. 

Summary of spoilers

Jacques Saunière was the head of the Priory of Sion and therefore possessed the knowledge of the "keystone", which in turn reveals the location of the Holy Grail, as well as documents which would shake the foundation of Christianity and the Church. He was killed in order to extract this information from him and eliminate the members of the Priory of Sion. 
The reason that Sophie Neveu disassociated herself from her grandfather is that she witnessed him participating in a pagan sex ritual (Hieros Gamos) at his home in Normandy, when she made a surprise visit there during a break from college. 
The message Saunière wrote with an alcohol restoration marking pen on the floor before dying contained the extra line "P.S. Find Robert Langdon". This was the reason Bezu Fache suspected Langdon of being the murderer. Fache had erased this line before Langdon arrived so that Langdon would not be aware that the police suspected him. Sophie Neveu saw the entire text of the message by accident when it was faxed to her office by the police. Sophie realized immediately that the message was meant for her, since her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (i.e. "PS") when she was a girl. From this she also knew Langdon to be innocent. She informs him of this secretly when they are in the Louvre by telling him to call her personal voicemail box and listen to the message that she had left there for him. 
The other three lines of Saunière's blood message are anagrams. The first line are the digits of the Fibonacci sequence out of order. The second and third lines ("O, draconian devil!" and "Oh, lame saint!") are anagrams respectively for "Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Mona Lisa" (in English). These clues were meant to lead to a second set of clues. On the glass over the Mona Lisa, Saunière wrote the message "So dark the con of Man" with a curator's pen that can only be read in ultra-violet light. The second clue is an anagram for Madonna of the Rocks, another Da Vinci painting hanging nearby. Behind this painting, Saunière hid a key. On the key, written with the curator's pen, is an address. 
The key opens a safe deposit box at the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. Saunière's account number at the bank is the Fibonacci sequence digits, arranged in the correct order. 
The instructions that Saunière revealed to Silas at gunpoint are actually a well-rehearsed lie, namely that the keystone is buried in the Church of Saint-Sulpice beneath an obelisk that lies exactly along the ancient "Rose Line" (supposedly the former Prime Meridian (as defined by the French--not internationally) which passed through Paris before it was redefined to pass through Greenwich, although the actual Paris Meridian does not pass through the actual Church of Saint-Sulpice). In reality, the message beneath the obelisk simply contains a reference to a passage in the Book of Job which reads "Hitherto shalt thou go and no further". When Silas reads this, he realizes he has been duped. 
The keystone is actually a cryptex, a cylindrical device invented by Leonardo Da Vinci for transporting secure messages. In order to open it, the combination of rotating components must be arranged in the correct order. If forced open, an enclosed vial of vinegar will rupture and dissolve the message, which was written on papyrus. The rosewood box containing the cryptex contains clues to the combination of the cryptex, written in backwards script in the same manner as Leonardo's journals. While fleeing to England aboard Teabing's plane, Langdon solves the riddle and finds the combination to be "S-O-F-I-A", the ancient Greek form of Sophie's name, also meaning wisdom. 

Newton's grave in Westminster Abbey

Newton's grave in Westminster Abbey

The keystone cryptex actually contains a second smaller cryptex with a second riddle that reveals its combination. The riddle, which says to seek the orb that should be on the tomb of "a knight a pope interred", refers not to a medieval knight, but rather to the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton, who was buried in Westminster Abbey, and was eulogized by Alexander Pope (A. Pope). The orb refers to the apple observed by Newton which led to his discovery of the Law of universal gravitation, and thus the combination to the second cryptex is "A-P-P-L-E". 
The Teacher is actually Sir Leigh Teabing. He learned of the identities of the leaders of the Priory of Sion and bugged their offices. Rémy is his collaborator. It is Teabing who contacts Bishop Aringarosa using a phony French accent to hide his identity and dupes him into financing the plan to find the Grail. He never intended to hand the Grail over to Aringarosa but was simply taking advantage of "Opus Dei's" resolve to find it. Instead he believed that the Priory of Sion intended to renege on its vow to reveal the secret of the Grail to the world at the appointed time, and thus he was planning to steal the Grail documents and reveal them to the world himself. It is he who informed Silas that Langdon and Sophie Neveu were at his chateau. He did not seize the keystone from them himself because he did not want to reveal his identity to them. His plan to have Silas break into his house and seize the keystone was thwarted when the police raided the house, having followed the GPS device in the truck Langdon had stolen and having heard Silas's gunshot. Teabing leads Neveu and Langdon to the Temple Church in London knowing full well that it was a blind alley. Rather he wanted to stage the hostage scene with Rémy in order to obtain the keystone without revealing his real plot to Langdon and Neveu. The call Silas receives while riding in the limousine with Rémy is in fact Teabing, surreptitiously calling from the back of the limousine. 
In order to erase all knowledge of his work, Teabing kills Rémy by giving him cognac laced with peanut powder, knowing Rémy has a deadly allergy to peanuts. Teabing also anonymously tells the police that Silas is hiding in the London headquarters of "Opus Dei". 
In Westminster Abbey, in the showdown with Teabing, Langdon secretly opens the second cryptex and removes its contents before destroying it in front of Teabing. Teabing is arrested and led away while fruitlessly begging Langdon to tell him the contents of the second cryptex and the secret location of the Grail. 
Bishop Aringarosa and Silas believed they were saving the Church, not destroying it. 
Bezu Fache figures out that Neveu and Langdon are innocent after discovering the bugging equipment in Teabing's barn. 
Silas accidentally shoots Aringarosa outside the London headquarters of "Opus Dei" while fleeing from the police. Having realized his terrible error and that he has been duped, Aringarosa tells Bezu Fache to give the bearer bonds in his brief case to the families of the murdered leaders of the Priory of Sion. Silas dies of fatal wounds. 
The final message inside the second keystone actually does not refer to Rosslyn Chapel, although the Grail was indeed once buried there, below the Star of David on the floor (the two interlocking triangles are the "blade" and "chalice", i.e., male and female symbols). 
The docent in Rosslyn Chapel is Sophie's long-lost brother. 
The guardian of Rosslyn Chapel, Marie Chauvel, is Sophie's long-lost grandmother, and the wife of Jacques Saunière. She is also the woman who participated in the sex ritual with Jacques Sauniere. 
Even though all four of the leaders of the Priory of Sion were killed, the secret is not lost, since there is still a contingency plan (never revealed) which will keep the organization and its secret alive. 
The real meaning of the last message is that the Grail is buried beneath the small pyramid (i.e., the "blade", a male symbol) directly below the inverted glass pyramid of the Louvre (i.e., the "chalice", a female symbol, which Langdon and Sophie ironically almost crash into while making their original escape from Bezu Fache). See La Pyramide Inversée for further discussion. 
At the end of the book, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu fall in love. They arrange to meet in Florence. 
Narrative paradox: The novel portrays characters reacting with total amazement and disbelief when told the "true" story of the Grail and of Mary Magdalene, while also presenting this "truth" as something so well-known that there is no serious dispute amongst academics about it. Dan Brown also seems to suggest that the "secret" is so widely shared that it has been conveyed in numerous publicly available books and art works throughout history, while still remaining unknown to the general public.

Secret of the Holy Grail

Detail of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Detail of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

As explained by Leigh Teabing to Sophie Neveu, the figure at the right hand of Jesus is supposedly not the apostle John, but Mary Magdalene. According to the book Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus Christ and was in fact pregnant with his child at the time of his crucifiction. The absence of a chalice in the painting supposedly indicates that Leonardo knew that Mary Magdalene was actually the Holy Grail (the bearer of Jesus' blood). This is said to be reinforced by the letter "M" that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus, Mary, and the male apostle (Saint Peter) upon whom she is leaning. The apparent absence of the "Apostle John", under this interpretation, is explained by identifying John as "the Disciple Jesus loved", allegedly code for Mary Magdalene (see also Second Apocalypse of James). The book also notes that the color scheme of their garments is exactly inverted: Jesus wears a red blouse with royal blue cape; John/Mary wears a royal blue blouse with red cape — perhaps symbolizing two bonded halves of marriage. (This interpretation is rejected by essentially all art historians.)

According to the fictional novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion, are as follows:

The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ. 
The Old French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang réal, which literally means "royal blood" in Old French. 
The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene. 
The Grail relics of Mary Magdalene were hidden by the Priory of Sion in a secret crypt, perhaps beneath Rosslyn Chapel. 
The Church has suppressed the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus' bloodline for 2000 years. This is principally because they fear the power of the sacred feminine, which they have demonized as Satanic. 
Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was a slander invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France. 
The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (see Kingdom of Jerusalem). The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret. 
The secrets of the Grail are connected, according to the fictional novel, to Leonardo Da Vinci's work as follows:

Leonardo was a member of the Priory of Sion and knew the secret of the Grail. The secret is in fact revealed in The Last Supper, in which no actual chalice is present at the table. The figure seated next to Christ is not a man, but a woman, his wife Mary Magdalene. Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics. 
The Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait by Leonardo as a woman. The androgyny reflects the sacred union of male and female which is implied in the holy union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Such parity between the cosmic forces of masculine and feminine has long been a deep threat to the established power of the Church. The name Mona Lisa is actually an anagram for "Amon L'Isa", referring to the father and mother gods of Ancient Egypt (namely Amon and Isis). 
A number of different authors also speculate about the possibility of Jesus becoming a father. There are at least three children attributed to him, a daughter Tamar, born before the Crucifixion, and two sons Jesus (the Jesus Justus from the New Testament) and Josephes, both born after the Resurrection. Their names are now part of the common culture of conspiracy writers, however only two decades ago, when Holy Blood, Holy Grail was written, the names were never mentioned. The royal descents that lie at the heart of The Da Vinci Code mysteries centre on the familly of Josephes, who is supposed to be the grandfather of Aminadab del Graal, first of the "Fisher Kings". However the genealogies that are quoted in Grail lore appear to record too few generations, with children regularly being born to fathers in their 40s. One notable point about the descent from Jesus is that his supposed family appear to have left a significantly shallow impression on history.

The Da Vinci Code WebQuests

There are two original web-based quests available online which were initially part of a promotional campaign for the book release, but have since become a popular challenge in their own right. The original Da Vinci Code WebQuest remains a popular attraction for websurfers and involves deciphering cryptic clues using both the book and the internet to solve it. The second Da Vinci Code WebQuest, titled 'Uncover The Code', follows a similar style.

Da Vinci Code webquests sponsored by Google
On April 17, 2006, Google launched its first movie industry cross-promotion, around the release of The Da Vinci Code: The Movie. Working with Sony Pictures, they launched the Da Vinci Code Quest, an online puzzle game that challenges players with puzzles and no simple solutions. According to a post on the Official Google Blog by Google software engineer/four-time world puzzle champion Wei-Hwa Huang, the puzzle game’s many twists and turns are “designed to honor both a fanatical puzzler’s sheer love of a mental challenge and the labyrinthine spirit of The Da Vinci Code itself.”

According to Google, the new webquests again require skill, intellect, and perseverance. Google promises that should anyone answer all 24 puzzles correctly, they will have a chance of winning 'untold riches'. The Google webquests run over a span of 24 days ending May 11, 2006.

Although the Google WebQuest is still fairly new, much information and discussion can be found on various blogs on the internet. Additionally, many of the blogs also offer hints and clues about how to solve certain puzzles.

The mystery within the mystery

Part of the advertising campaign for the novel was that the artwork in the American version of the bookjacket held various codes, and that the reader who solved them via the author's website would be given a prize. Several thousand people actually solved the codes, and one name was randomly chosen to be the winner, with the name announced on live television, "Good Morning America", in early 2004. The prize was a trip to Paris.

Warning: Solution details follow.
The five hidden puzzles reveal:

That the back of the book jacket conceals latitude and longitude coordinates, written in reverse, light red on dark red. Adding one degree to the latitude gives the coordinates of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Northern Virginia, which is the location of a mysterious sculpture called Kryptos. The coordinates were taken from part of the decrypted text of part 2 of the sculpture (part 4 has never been solved). When Brown has been asked why the coordinates are one degree off, his reply has been, "The discrepancy is intentional." 
That there is a secret message hidden in the text of the book flaps 
That the words "only WW knows" can be seen on the back cover. This too is a reference to part 2 of the Kryptos sculpture. [2] 
That a circle with numbers, when combined with text from the book, reveals a secret message. 
That there is reverse writing on the cover of the book 
Brown, both via his website and in person, has stated that the puzzles in the bookjacket give hints about the subject of his next novel, The Solomon Key. This repeats a theme from his earlier novels. For example, Deception Point had an encrypted message which, when solved, said, "The Da Vinci Code will surface".

Inspiration and influences
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The novel is part of the late twentieth-century revival of interest in Gnosticism. Its principal source book is Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which is explicitly named, among several others, at the beginning of chapter 60). It has been claimed that The Da Vinci Code is a romanticised version of this work, which was itself based on a series of short films that ran on the BBC in the late 1970s. Similarities include Mary Magdalene as the living Holy Grail, the divine origin of the French royal dynasty, occultism, ancient Egyptian wisdom, papal conspiracy, and the use of steganography. In the book, the French painter Poussin with his "Et in Arcadia ego" canvas plays the same role that Brown later assigned to Leonardo da Vinci (years later one of the authors openly admitted to the press that the entire story had been invented). In reference to Baigent (one of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail), Brown named the villain of his story "Teabing" (an anagram of "Baigent").

Some also claim Brown has reworked themes from his own earlier Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons.

Umberto Eco's earlier Foucault's Pendulum also deals with conspiracies, including the Holy Blood conundrum (which is mentioned in passing) and the Templars, but does so in a more critical fashion — it is in fact a satire about the futility of conspiracy theories and the people who believe them. Nevertheless, Foucault's Pendulum has been dubbed "the thinking man's The Da Vinci Code".

Foucault's Pendulum itself is reminiscent in plot, theme and structure to the earlier The Illuminatus! Trilogy, published 13 years earlier.

Christian anarchism has also been thought to have had an influence on the book.

Postmodernism is another influence that has been suggested as an explanation for the apparent falsifications in the book. One could mention here the postmodern tendency toward "giving the irrational equal footing with the rational." Yet postmodernism's attempt to read texts in light of assumed or real power structures deserves to be mentioned. In other words, since facts cannot be known or conveyed (or simply are not conveyed), a text's author's quest for power explains his/her "version" of the truth. Sir Leigh Teabing explictly states that the biblical account of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is "victor's history", that is, it is written to corroborate the power position of the Catholic Church which, in the view of Teabing, depends in large part on the suppression of the "sacred feminine." Similar claims would have to be made concerning the "real" religion of ancient Israel which, according to The Da Vinci Code, was headed by Jahwe-Jehova (male) and Shekhinah (female), which found its alleged symbolic expression in the Star of David (Magen David), consisting of two interlocking triangles, which are said to be ancient symobls of male and female. The reference to Shekhina (and not, e.g., Asherah) in this context brings Jewish kabbalah mysticism into the mix, which is featured prominently in U. Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. The reference to the Star of David as a male-female symbol brings in a trace of Hinduism (Shakti, female + Shiva, male = Creation). Thus, despite postmodernism's dislike of dominating "meta-narratives," Dan Brown seems to offer such a general frame of reference that puts (almost) "everything" in its interconnected place. This, obviously, raises the question whether a postmodern conspiracy theory is a self-contradiction or the purest expression of the genre yet.

Feminism in its religious form (Spiritual feminism) also plays a role in the novel in that it repeatedly stresses that the "natural" form of religion is to be governed by (at least?) two gods, one male god and a female goddess. This was, in the novel, the religion of Jesus and the first Israelites. This type of religion is said to be conducive to a more balanced and peaceful society, while a male-only religion is said to be conducive to militarism and violence. Both paradigms are exemplified in the Priory of Sion (male and female membership and leadership, "good") and the Opus Dei (male-only leaders, "bad"), respectively -- the latter, as the mad attack dog of the Catholic Church, seeking to destroy the former. Self-tormenting Silas thus represents Opus Dei and the Catholic Church when true to their "destructive" principles. According to the novel, man needs woman for wholeness and, in fact, for experiencing the divine by means of sex (see the Hieros Gamos ritual), which reveals again its predelection for the irrational and mystic (as the novel points out, in man's orgasm, there is a short period of time when the man's mind is completely empty, when he makes contact with God). Is one then to conclude that the "sacred feminine" needs no such helps but finds itself in a constant, natural state of contact with the divine?

Literary significance & criticism

Acclaim
Dan Brown's novel was a smash hit in 2003, even rivaling the sales of the highly popular Harry Potter series. It spawned a number of offspring books and drew glowing reviews from the New York Times, the People Magazine and Washington Post [1]. It was lauded by many as action-packed and thought-provoking. It also re-ignited interest in the history of the Catholic Church. As well as re-invigorating interest in the church, The Da Vinci Code has also spawned numerous "knockoffs" (as they are referred to by Publishers Weekly)[2], or novels that have a striking resemblance to The Da Vinci Code, including Raymond Khoury's The Last Templar, and The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry.

Criticism and controversy

Court case
In February 2006, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, took the UK publisher of The Da Vinci Code to court for breach of copyright, alleging plagiarism.[3] Some sources suggested the lawsuit was a publicity stunt [4] intended to boost sales of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (a boost which did in fact occur). However, the projected court costs of over 1 million pounds outweigh or at least substantially reduce the financial benefit of the lawsuit.[5]

Dan Brown repeatedly said in his defence that history cannot be plagiarised and therefore the accusations of the two authors were false. Leigh stated, "It's not that Dan Brown has lifted certain ideas because a number of people have done that before. It's rather that he's lifted the whole architecture - the whole jigsaw puzzle - and hung it on to the peg of a fictional thriller."[6] Dan Brown has admitted some of the ideas taken from Baigent and Leigh's work were indispensable to the book, but stated that there were many other sources also behind it. However he stated that neither he nor his wife had read Baigent and Leigh's book when he produced his original "synopsis" of the novel [7]. In 2005, Brown had won a suit against Lewis Perdue the author of The Da Vinci Legacy and Daughter of God. Perdue had made similar claims against Brown, in particular that he plagiarized the major themes of his novel. Courts ruled in Brown's favour, citing that historical events cannot be protected under copyright law and that anyone has the right to write about them.[8]

On 7 April 2006, High Court judge Peter Smith rejected the copyright-infringement claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, and Dan Brown won the court case[9]. However, in the published extracts of his judgement [10] the judge criticised the non-appearance of Blythe Brown and the vagueness of Dan Brown's evidence saying "He has presented himself as being a deep and thorough researcher...evidence in this case demonstrates that as regards The Da Vinci Code that is simply not correct with respect to historical lectures."[11]

The judge, Peter Smith, also included a code in his judgment. Throughout the judgment, apparently random letters are italicised and these form the message. The letters in the first paragraphs spell smithy code and the rest appear as follows "jaeiextostgpsacgreamqwfkadpmqzv". This was subsequently decoded to read "Smithy Code Jackie Fisher who are you Dreadnought".[12], referring to the British admiral whom Judge Smith admires. As with the book, this secret message made use of Fibonacci numbers for its encoding.

Christian response

US Catholic bishops launched a website refuting the key claims in the novel. The bishops are concerned about what they perceive as errors and serious mis-statements in The Da Vinci Code.

The Catholic personal prelature Opus Dei is working with American and British TV networks on independent documentaries about the organisation to be broadcast around the movie's release. Reporters are being invited to tour the headquarters in the US, which is a residence for Opus Dei members and a centre for community activities.

Christian organizations have planned to meet moviegoers with protests and prayers outside theaters nationwide, termed, "Rejecting The Da Vinci Code Protests," by the Catholic, "American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)." After collecting more than 60,000 signatures last month in protest of the "blasphemous film," the Catholic organization is setting out for a one-thousand theater protest with tens of thousands of people around the country. Protests were also encouraged by a Vatican official who said the novel and upcoming film contained "slander, offenses and errors" in a speech at the Pontifical Holy Cross University. "I hope all of you boycott this film," said Monsignor Angelo Amato, Pope Benedict XVI's former No. 2, according to the ANSA news agency.[3]

Not all Christian groups, however, share such a reaction. Instead of planning boycotts or staging protests, many Christians are looking to use the film as a tool for evangelism.[4]


Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The Da Vinci Code (film) 
Sony's Columbia Pictures is adapting the novel to film, with a screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman, and Academy Award winner Ron Howard directing. The film is currently set for release on May 19, 2006, and will star Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu, and Sir Ian McKellen as Leigh Teabing.

Release details
The book has been translated into over 40 languages, primarily in hardcover. [13] Alternate formats include audio cassette, CD, and e-book. Most recently, a Trade Paperback edition was released March 2006 in conjunction with the film.

Major English-language (hardcover) editions include:

(US) The Da Vinci Code, March 18, 2003 (1st edition), Doubleday, ISBN 0385504209 
The Da Vinci Code, Special Illustrated Edition, November 2, 2004, Doubleday, ISBN 0385513755 (as of January 2006, has sold 576,000 copies) 
(UK) The Da Vinci Code, April 2004, Corgi Adult. ISBN 0552149519 
(UK) The Da Vinci Code: The Illustrated Edition, October 2, 2004, Bantam Press. ISBN 0593054253 
(US/Canada) The Da Vinci Code (Trade Paperback edition), March 2006, Anchor Books. 

Future editions
On March 28, 2006, Anchor Books released 5 million paperback copies of the book, and Broadway Books released 200,000 paperback copies of The Da Vinci Code Special Illustrated Edition. 
On May 19, the day of the film's release, Doubleday and Broadway Books will release The Da Vinci Code Illustrated Screenplay: Behind the Scenes of the Major Motion Picture, by screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, with introductions by Ron Howard and Dan Brown. It will include film stills, behind-the-scenes photos, and the full script. There will be 25,000 copies of the hardcover, and 200,000 of the paperback version.[14] 

Further reading

Richard Abanes, The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code (Harvest House Publishers, 2004). ISBN 0736914390 
Laurence Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings: The Explosive Story of Genetic Cloning and the Ancient Bloodline of Jesus (Fair Winds Press, 2002). ISBN 1931412936 
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, & Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (Dell, 1983). ISBN 0440136482 
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, & Henry Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy (Dell, 1989). ISBN 0440203198 
Darrell Bock and Francis Moloney, Breaking the Da Vinci Code (Nelson Books, 2004). ISBN 0785260463 
Dan Burstein (ed), Secrets of the Code (CDS Books, 2004). ISBN 1593150229 
Christopher Dawes, Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005). ISBN 1560256788 
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (Ballantine Press, 1990). ISBN 0345368754 
Bart D. Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code (Oxford University Press, 2004). ISBN 0195181409 
Nicky Gumbel, The Da Vinci Code: a response (Alpha International). ISBN 1-90407481-2 
Bernard Hamilton, Puzzling Success: Specious history, religious bigotry and the power of symbols in The Da Vinci Code (Times Literary Supplement no 5332 10 June 2005, pages 20-21) 
Hank Hanegraaff and Paul Maier, Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?[5] (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004). ISBN 1414302797 
Steve Kellmeyer, Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code (Bridegroom Press, 2004). ISBN 0971812861 
Karen L. King, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (Polebridge Press, 2003) ISBN 0944344585 
Sharan Newman, The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code (Berkley Trade, 2005) ISBN 0425200124 
Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel, The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius Press, 2004). ISBN 1586170341 
Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson, Rosslyn and the Grail (Mainstream Publishing, 2005). ISBN 1845960769 
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Templar Revelation (Touchstone, 1998). ISBN 0684848910 
Margaret Starbird, The Goddess in the Gospels (Bear & Company, 1998). ISBN 187918155X 
Margaret Starbird, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Bear & Company, 1993). ISBN 1879181037 
Amy Welborn, De-Coding Da Vinci (Our Sunday Visitor, 2004). ISBN 1592761011 
Samael Aun Weor, The Da Vinci Gospel (Logos Press, 2005). ISBN 1411642740 - (see also The Perfect Matrimony a primary work published in 1950 by the same author) 
Ben Witherington III, The Gospel Code (InterVarsity Press, 2004). ISBN 083083267X 
Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Second Messiah (Element Books, 1998). ISBN 1862042489 
Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction (Bantam, 1971). ISBN 0553349481 
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume (Bantam, 1984). ISBN 0553348981 

Parodies
The popularity of the book has fueled several parody works:

Books
Toby Clements, The Asti Spumante Code (Time Warner Trade Publishing, 2005). ISBN 0751537683 
Kaye Thomas, The Michelangelo Code (Fairmark Press, 2004). ISBN 0967498120 
Henry Beard, The Dick Cheney Code (Simon & Schuster, 2004). ISBN 0743270029 
Tom Eaton, The de Villiers Code (Penguin SA, 2005). ISBN 014302499X 
Adam Roberts as Don Brine , The Va Dinci Cod later renamed The Da Vinci Cod: A Fishy Parody 
Chris Riddell, The Da Vinci Cod And Other Illustrations To Unwritten Books 
Kathy Crimmins, The Dali Code 
Julie Kenner, The Givenchy Code 
ER Escobar, The Givenchy Code different book from the one mentioned above. 
Knut Nærum, Madonnagåten (The Madonna Riddle)' 
Connelly, Sharron, "The Charade of Mona Lisa Vol I and II, reveals the secrets of Mona Lisa, and secrets of Last Supper, (not MARY MAGDALENE) Willow Publications 

Other
The Albino Code : A real albino playing Silas in a short film parody. 
The Wrath of Fork Jesus : A short comic strip mystery serial inspired by the ideas behind The Da Vinci Code and set in a world of talking silverware. From the webcomic Detective Fork. 
Create Your Own Dan Brown Novel 
Da Kath & Kim Code, a telemovie of the Australian TV series Kath & Kim 
The Da Vinci Dagger : An online parody with its own interesting facts. 
The 'Da Colbert Code' was used by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report as a method to predict the outcome of the 78th Academy Awards. He predicted all 4 acting awards and Best Film correctly. 
Because critics have attacked Code for being somewhat formulaic, variations of the name have been applied to works that resemble it in some way. For example, the aforementioned Foucault's Pendulum is sometimes called "A Thinking Man's Da Vinci Code," while the 2005 novel The Historian was sarcastically called "The Dracula Code" because it shares elements with this book.

References
^ Reviews of The Da Vinci Code, Official site of Dan Brown 
^ Book review of The Last Templar 
^ Maev Kennedy, In a packed high court, a new twist in The Da Vinci Code begins to unfold, The Guardian, 28 February 2006 
^ Expanding on a theory isn't plagiarism, Collegiate Times, 14 March 2006 
^ Publish and be damned if you don't sell more, The Birmingham Post, 10 March 2006 
^ Da Vinci trial pits history against art, The Observer, 26 February 2006 
^ The key to "The Da Vinci Code?" Dan Brown's wife, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 16 March 2006 
^ Brown says used historians' ideas, among others, Reuters, 15 March 2006 
^ Court rejects Da Vinci copy claim, BBC News, 7 April 2006 
^ The Da Vinci Code case judgement, BBC News, 7 April 2006 
^ [1], The Da Vinci Code Case – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh v Dan Brown 
^ Judge's own Da Vinci code cracked. (HTML) BBC News. URL accessed on 2006-04-28. 
^ World editions of The Da Vinci Code, Official site of Dan Brown 
^ Harry Potter still magic for book sales, CBC Arts, 9 January 2006 

Dan Brown 
Digital Fortress (1998) | Angels and Demons (2000) | Deception Point (2001) | The Da Vinci Code (2003) | The Solomon Key (?2007) 

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