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Da Vinci Snobbery

The Guardian has an insightful commentary on the 'intellectual snobbery' which seems to have enveloped discussion of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code. Referring to the current copyright lawsuit in London, it goes on:

But the sneering literary set would really like to try him for something completely different. To them, he is guilty of the heinous crime of writing something that a lot of people wanted to read and tell their friends about...The problem is, that's not actually against the law.

I have to agree completely with this article. I've seen a number of people, who were originally completely enthusiastic about the success of a novel on these topics, who now act snobbish and criticise TDVC for poor research and 'pop' writing. Get over it people, it's meant as a fun read!

Hints About The Solomon Key

A surprising source for new information about the next Dan Brown novel is...Dan Brown! As part of his testimony for the ongoing court case in London (over alleged plagiarism of Holy Blood, Holy Grail), Brown submitted a very detailed witness statement which works through the writing of each of his books. Within this statement, there are a number of new clues to topics and sources for the new book. I've gone through and listed these in a new essay here on site, "Solomon Key Hints - From Dan Brown Himself". Feels good to have predicted a number of these sources correctly!

DVC Court Case Roundup

For those following the court case over The Da Vinci Code and alleged plagiarism from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, here’s a sampling of the stories covering the trial (roughly chronological):

  • The case begins.
  • Michael Baigent’s family talks to reporters while the man himself is grilled on the stand.
  • Dan Brown’s witness statement (all 68 pages). I’ll have plenty more to say about this in another update.
  • Dan Brown takes to the stand, and expresses his shock at being sued for plagiarism.
  • Dan struggles to follow the arguments of Baigent and Leigh’s lawyer.
  • Brown explains how his wife played a huge role in the writing of The Da Vinci Code.
  • And also passes out the secrets to his novel-writing success.
  • Questions arise as to why Brown’s copy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail is so damaged if he hardly used it as a source. In a further update, Brown disputes some evidence, due to British grammar being used in the document (which was supposedly written by his American wife).
  • Baigent and Leigh’s lawyer - and the judge himself - question Brown’s ignorance of the primacy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail to ‘Jesus bloodline’ theories.
  • Authors Baigent and Leigh were told by publishers: "Don’t be fools". Also remarks that the case may be due to Baigent and Leigh’s desire to sell the film rights to their book.
  • Brown admits that he used a number of ideas from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but also used many other sources.

The case is expected to wrap up early next week, although the decision could take over a month to be handed down. Feel free to vote in our poll over at The Daily Grail on the topic!

Solomon Key Release in May?

There have been some rumblings that bookstores are mentiong a May 2006 release for Dan Brown's next book, and one particular person over at the Cult of Dan Brown forums has said they have been sent a flyer from the Doubleday Book Club which says the same. Anybody else heard mention of this?

Da Vinci Court Case

The "Da Vinci Court Case" has kicked off in London, with Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh - authors of the 'alternative history' bestseller Holy Blood, Holy Grail (HBHG) - sueing Dan Brown over copyright infringement in his own bestseller The Da Vinci Code (DVC). The Times has a good summary of the arguments behind the case, which are well worth pondering, while The Guardian covers the events of the day.

The case could have huge ramifications for writers, for if Baigent and Leigh win it could raise serious concerns about how to integrate previous research into new material. If someone was to write a novel detailing the controversies at Giza, do they therefore avoid specific theories such as West and Schoch's Sphinx weathering hypothesis, as it could be counted as similar to Baigent and Leigh's "historical conjecture". That term may be significant - ironically, it would appear difficult for B&L to win their case unless they state that their research is not fact, but only conjecture (as objective facts are not copyrightable).

As such, it's difficult to have empathy for B&L - especially considering that the success of DVC has pulled HBHG out of obscurity (after initially selling millions in the 80s), and kept it solidly within Amazon's top 1000 for the past few years. On the other hand, perhaps there is something to their claim...if you were to uncover some fascinating threads of history, put it in book form and only sell a few copies - would you then want to sue an author who took your work and made many millions of dollars from it?

Whatever the outcome, it's likely that the publicity may be more than enough to compensate for the costs of B&L's court case, and will also contribute further to DVC sales and income. As of today, HBHG is at its highest ever Amazon ranking (#9), and is not far from pushing into the top 5 and challenging DVC itself (#4). Perhaps the biggest winner out of all this will be Random House - who publish both books...

Da Vinci Movie Controversy

The controversy around The Da Vinci Code continues, with the movie now coming in for attacks from certain groups. Opus Dei have requested that certain scenes be deleted from the movie so as not to offend Catholics, and Albino groups have also criticised the stereotyping of them in the book/movie as evil people.

Controversy aside, publicity for the movie continues to gain momentum with the release to of a gallery of stills from the much-anticipated film version of Dan Brown's hit book. The images show most of the main characters, and fans of the book will no doubt be able to spot certain scenes which have until now only been in their head.

Dan Brown on eBooks and 'The Sequel'

I recently linked to a video about the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, which was a Sony CES keynote presentation. Another of Sony's keynotes was about the new Sony eBook Reader, and to discuss the merits of the book they brought in none other than Dan Brown himself. The video of Brown's presentation is available from C-Net, in both Real and Windows Media formats.

The presentation ends with Sony top man Howard Stringer asking Dan Brown about 'the sequel', to which Brown continues walking off the stage saying "I'm writing it, I'm writing it." The CES presentation was in January this year, so it looks like the book will be a while yet.

More Movie

For those interested in the upcoming movie version of The Da Vinci Code, NBC's Today show recently interviewed director Ron Howard about the film, in which he played a short unreleased segment (the scene with Langdon and Sophie Neveu inspecting the Mona Lisa). You can view the interview and clip online, but be warned - Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player are required.

Also, for the computer geeks out there, the first screenshots from the DVC computer game have been released as well. It's like the second coming at the moment...although perhaps Dan Brown would argue against the Biblical allegory!

Da Vinci Gallery

Fred Zimmerman has a note up on his weblog linking to a gallery of pictures related to The Da Vinci Code movie. In the gallery you'll find press pics (recent and older) of Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou and the other personalities involved in the upcoming film. Thanks Fred.

DVC Movie Preview

For those eager to see a little more of the upcoming DVC movie, check out this amateur video from the CES 2006 Sony Keynote video. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Tom Hanks all chat about the movie (including some hilarious Sony endorsements from Hanks), but also there is previously unseen footage from the movie - the segment shown is Robert Langdon presenting a speech on symbology. The video quality isn't great (ironically, the presentation is a promotion for Sony's Hi-definition video), but still worth checking out.

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