2005-03-23 12:25:04 UTC
HOW MUCH OF THIS NOVEL IS TRUE?
The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction. While the
book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork,
architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all
exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels,
Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by
fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories
discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must
explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own
interpretations. My hope in writing this novel was that the story would
serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important
topics of faith, religion, and history.
BUT DOESN'T THE NOVEL'S "FACT" PAGE CLAIM THAT EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THIS
NOVEL IS HISTORICAL FACT?
If you read the "FACT" page, you will see it clearly states that the
documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel
all exist. The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the
ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those
ideas is left to the reader.
IS THIS BOOK ANTI-CHRISTIAN?
No. This book is not anti-anything. It's a novel. I wrote this story in an
effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me.
The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider
The Da Vinci Code an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion
and debate. Even so, a small but vocal group of individuals has proclaimed
the story dangerous, heretical, and anti-Christian. While I regret having
offended those individuals, I should mention that priests, nuns, and clergy
contact me all the time to thank me for writing the novel. Many church
officials are celebrating The Da Vinci Code because it has sparked renewed
interest in important topics of faith and Christian history. It is
important to remember that a reader does not have to agree with every word
in the novel to use the book as a positive catalyst for introspection and
exploration of our faith.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CLERICAL SCHOLARS ATTEMPTING TO "DISPROVE" THE DA
The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the
debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force. The more
vigorously we debate these topics, the better our understanding of our own
spirituality. Controversy and dialogue are healthy for religion as a whole.
Religion has only one true enemy--apathy--and passionate debate is a superb
PARTS OF THE DA VINCI CODE DESCRIBE THE ACTIVITIES OF THE RELIGIOUS GROUP
OPUS DEI. HOW DOES OPUS DEI FEEL ABOUT YOUR NOVEL?
I worked very hard to create a fair and balanced depiction of Opus Dei.
Even so, there may be those who are offended by the portrayal. While Opus
Dei is a very positive force in the lives of many people, for others,
affiliation with Opus Dei has been a profoundly negative experience. Their
portrayal in the novel is based on more than a dozen books written about
Opus Dei as well as on my own personal interviews with current and former
SOME OF THE HISTORY IN THIS NOVEL CONTRADICTS WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL.
WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE?
Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the
"winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived).
Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the
"historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs
with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I)
that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first
ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian,
you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is
sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical
fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ
as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we
each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify
ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point
where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all trying to
decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of
enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I
learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a
life-long work in progress.
THE TOPIC OF THIS NOVEL MIGHT BE CONSIDERED CONTROVERSIAL. DO YOU FEAR
I can't imagine why. The ideas in this novel have been around for
centuries; they are not my own. Admittedly, this may be the first time
these ideas have been written about within the context of a popular
thriller, but the information is anything but new. My hope for The Da Vinci
Code was, in addition to entertaining people, that it might serve as an
open door for readers to begin their own explorations and rekindle their
interest in topics of faith.
HAS ANYONE IN ORGANIZED RELIGION COME OUT IN SUPPORT OF YOUR NOVEL?
Yes, many people in organized religion have come out in support of this
novel, and, of course, many have come out in opposition as well. The
opposition generally comes from the strictest Christian thinkers who feel
the idea of a "married Jesus" serves to undermine His divinity. While I
don't agree with this interpretation, this is immaterial because the
dialogue itself is a deeply empowering and positive force for everyone
involved. Suddenly, enormous numbers of people are passionately debating
important philosophical topics, and regardless of the personal conclusions
that each of us draws, the debate can only help to strengthen our
understanding of our own faith. Much of the positive response I get from
within organized religion comes from nuns (who write to thank me for
pointing out that they have sacrificed their entire lives to the Church and
are still considered "unfit" to serve behind the altar). I have also heard
from hundreds of enthusiastic priests. While many of them disagree with
some of the ideas in the novel, they are thrilled that their parishioners
are eager to discuss religion. Father John Sewell of St. John's Episcopal
Church in Memphis stated it particularly eloquently in the press recently,
saying: "This [novel] is not a threat. This is an opportunity. We are
called to creatively engage the culture and this is what I want to do. I
think Dan Brown has done me a favor. He's letting me talk about things that
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE BOOK'S SUCCESS?
Stunned. I worked very hard on this novel, and I certainly expected people
would enjoy it, but I never imagined so many people would be enjoying it
this much. I wrote this book essentially as a group of fictional characters
exploring ideas that I found personally intriguing. These same themes
obviously resonate with a great many people.
THIS NOVEL IS VERY EMPOWERING TO WOMEN. CAN YOU COMMENT?
Two thousand years ago, we lived in a world of Gods and Goddesses. Today,
we live in a world solely of Gods. Women in most cultures have been
stripped of their spiritual power. The novel touches on questions of how
and why this shift occurred...and on what lessons we might learn from it
regarding our future.
THE COVER OF YOUR BOOK MENTIONS "THE GREATEST CONSPIRACY OF THE PAST 2000
YEARS." WHAT IS THIS CONSPIRACY?
Revealing that secret would rob readers of all the fun, but I will say that
it relates to one of the most famous histories of all time...a legend
familiar to all of us. Rumors of this conspiracy have been whispered for
centuries in countless languages, including the languages of art, music,
and literature. Some of the most dramatic evidence can be found in the
paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, which seem to overflow with mystifying
symbolism, anomalies, and codes. Art historians agree that Da Vinci's
paintings contain hidden levels of meaning that go well beneath the surface
of the paint. Many scholars believe his work intentionally provides clues
to a powerful secret...a secret that remains protected to this day by a
clandestine brotherhood of which Da Vinci was a member.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THE DA VINCI CODE?
This particular story kept knocking on my door until I answered. I first
learned of the mysteries hidden in Da Vinci's paintings while I was
studying art history at the University of Seville in Spain. Years later,
while researching Angels & Demons and the Vatican Secret Archives, I
encountered the Da Vinci enigma yet again. I arranged a trip to the Louvre
Museum where I was fortunate enough to view the originals of some of Da
Vinci's most famous works as well as discuss them with an art historian who
helped me better understand the mystery behind their surprising anomalies.
From then on, I was captivated. I spent a year doing research before
writing The Da Vinci Code.
HOW DID YOU GET ALL THE INSIDE INFORMATION FOR THIS BOOK?
Most of the information is not as "inside" as it seems. The secret
described in the novel has been chronicled for centuries, so there are
thousands of sources to draw from. In addition, I was surprised how eager
historians were to share their expertise with me. One academic told me her
enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code was based in part on her hope that "this
ancient mystery would be unveiled to a wider audience."
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A FASCINATION WITH SECRET SOCIETIES? CAN YOU COMMENT?
My interest in secret societies is the product of many experiences, some I
can discuss, others I cannot. Certainly my research of organizations like
NSA, the Vatican, NRO, and Opus Dei continues to fuel my intrigue. At a
more fundamental level, though, my interest sparks from growing up in New
England, surrounded by the clandestine clubs of Ivy League universities,
the Masonic lodges of our Founding Fathers, and the hidden hallways of
early government power. New England has a long tradition of elite private
clubs, fraternities, and secrecy. On that theme, the next Robert Langdon
novel (already in progress) is set deep within the oldest fraternity in
history...the enigmatic brotherhood of the Masons.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A CONSPIRACY THEORIST?
Hardly. In fact, I'm quite the opposite--more of a skeptic. I see no truth
whatsoever in stories of extraterrestrial visitors, crop circles, the
Bermuda Triangle, or many of the other "mysteries" that permeate pop
culture. However, the secret behind The Da Vinci Code was too well
documented and significant for me to dismiss.
CAN YOU SYNOPSIZE THE PLOT FOR US?
Sure. A renowned Harvard symbologist is summoned to the Louvre Museum to
examine a series of cryptic symbols relating to Da Vinci's artwork. In
decrypting the code, he uncovers the key to one of the greatest mysteries
of all time...and he becomes a hunted man.