Author Dan Brown
Country United States
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.
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.
The main conflict in the novel revolves around the solution to two
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
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
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
Secret of the Holy Grail
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
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
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
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. 
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
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
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
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 . 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), 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
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. Some sources suggested the lawsuit was a publicity stunt
 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.
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." 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 .
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
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. However, in the published extracts of
his judgement  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."
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"., referring to the British admiral whom Judge Smith
admires. As with the book, this secret message made use of Fibonacci
numbers for its encoding.
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
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.
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.
The book has been translated into over 40 languages, primarily in
hardcover.  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
The Da Vinci Code, Special Illustrated Edition, November 2, 2004,
Doubleday, ISBN 0385513755 (as of January 2006, has sold 576,000
(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,
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.
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
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
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?
(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).
Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson, Rosslyn and the Grail (Mainstream
Publishing, 2005). ISBN 1845960769
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Templar Revelation (Touchstone, 1998).
Margaret Starbird, The Goddess in the Gospels (Bear & Company, 1998). ISBN
Margaret Starbird, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Bear & Company,
1993). ISBN 1879181037
Amy Welborn, De-Coding Da Vinci (Our Sunday Visitor, 2004). ISBN
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
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
The popularity of the book has fueled several parody works:
Toby Clements, The Asti Spumante Code (Time Warner Trade Publishing,
2005). ISBN 0751537683
Kaye Thomas, The Michelangelo Code (Fairmark Press, 2004). ISBN
Henry Beard, The Dick Cheney Code (Simon & Schuster, 2004). ISBN
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
Kathy Crimmins, The Dali Code
Julie Kenner, The Givenchy Code
ER Escobar, The Givenchy Code different book from the one mentioned
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)
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.
^ 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
^ 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
^ , The Da Vinci Code Case – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh v Dan
^ Judge's own Da Vinci code cracked. (HTML) BBC News. URL accessed on
^ World editions of The Da Vinci Code, Official site of Dan Brown
^ Harry Potter still magic for book sales, CBC Arts, 9 January 2006
Digital Fortress (1998) | Angels and Demons (2000) | Deception Point
(2001) | The Da Vinci Code (2003) | The Solomon Key (?2007)