Lost Symbol information on Twitter: @lostsymbol
Last month I mentioned a story in The Scotsman which quoted Masonic authority Robert Cooper as saying that the plot of The Lost Symbol had been leaked, and that it would revolve around the theory that George Washington was actually a Tory (English) sympathiser, and was a traitor to the Revolutionary cause.
In the comments to a story I posted yesterday, a certain 'Lapu Marie' has now claimed to be Cooper's source for the plot leak, and offered evidence of links on various websites from earlier this year (April) at which they announced the plot details:
The rumors of a plot leak from Dan Brown’s newest book, The Lost Symbol, seem to be true. Doubleday Publishers confirm it. The new book will apparently center around George Washington and secret reason for the American reverses early in the Revolutionary War. Washington, a true and clandestine Tory, was secretly communicating Colonial war plans to the British via Benedict Arnold, Washington’s secret illegitimate son.
Does Robert Cooper know this person, as they claim - which would add some legitimacy to their plot leak - or did he just crib the theory from the website comments made in April?
There are several things that would make me very suspicious of this supposed Lost Symbol exposé. Firstly, when this 'plot leak' was posted at Publisher's Weekly, a Doubleday representative explicitly denied it was the plot, saying it was "someone's imagination run wild. It is NOT the plot summary of THE LOST SYMBOL." Having said that, Doubleday might be expected to react that way if the plot was blown so early on. Secondly, this so-called 'rogue editor' (website now deleted) responsible for the 'leak' is very careful to keep their identity secret, but is willing to say that they work for a publisher in New York, they specialise in editing books on occult themes, and they were given Brown's manuscript for The Lost Symbol to cast their eye over earlier this year. If Doubleday can't figure out the 'secret identity' from those facts, I don't know what it would take. (I'd also ask why they posted on Publisher's Weekly with a valid email address belonging to an organization in Alberta Canada...that's a big no-no if the email address is not theirs).
But perhaps most basic of all is that the 'plot leak' suggests that Benedict Arnold was Washington's illegitimate son. Given that Washington was only 8 years old when Benedict Arnold was born, this sounds like a historical error that Dan Brown (and certainly a genuine book editor) would not make. Unless 'Lapu Marie' has an explanation for that 'twist'?
Update: In the comment to this story, Perceval suggested Lapu Marie could be an anagram of Paul Maier, Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and author of The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?. Apparently, this "George Washington as Traitor" story is straight out of that book. Check out this PDF file discussing the book (or use Amazon's Search Inside feature on the book itself, using 'Benedict' as your keyword):
Dr. Paul Maier, noted historian and professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University says...“Imagine that someone were to write a novel about George Washington, the nation’s founder, rather than Jesus Christ, the church’s founder. At the start, the author assures the reader that all his material is based on fact, then goes on to present the following scenario:
While doing research at Mount Vernon into the life of the father of our country, a veteran scholar is murdered. While dying, he leaves a long trail of intricate clues for his granddaughter and a friend so that they might avenge his death. After solving the clues despite their Byzantine complexity, the two finally learn an awful truth: George Washington was really a member of a secret society that worshiped King George III of England and his queen, Charlotte Sophia. In fact, the reason for the American reverses early in the Revolutionary War was that Washington, a true but clandestine Tory, was secretly communicating Colonial war plans to the British via Benedict Arnold, Washington’s secret illegitimate son. At Yorktown, while awaiting a British support fleet, Washington was preparing to surrender to Cornwallis, but when De Grasse arrived with his fleet of French ships to aid the American side, Washington had to accept Cornwallis’s surrender instead.
At the end of his life, Washington’s conscience got the better of him, and he wrote a confession that was buried with him in his tomb at Mount Vernon. The scholar who discovered it was then murdered by the CIA, who feared that his find would destroy the patriotic mystique of America’s founding father and demoralize the country. When the FBI and CIA learn that the granddaughter and her friend know the awful truth, an all-points bulletin is issued for the pair.
After a harrowing series of misadventures, the two escape capture. But no, they will not reveal the ‘truth’ about Washington either.”
Maier concludes, “Readers with only a smattering of knowledge about American history but a great appetite for conspiracy might well buy into such worthless madness, since it contains just enough tangential truth – real people, real places, real situations – to be credible...Dan Brown has accomplished a very similar hoax, successful largely because so many today have ‘only a smattering knowledge’ about Jesus and Christianity.
The only questions now are: did Paul Maier post this, or was it someone else (an Alberta resident, going by the email address supplied to Publisher's Weekly) who simply admired Maier's theory, even to the point of using his name as an anagram? And: why did Robert Cooper suggest this as a storyline - has he read this book and was just having some fun, or did he jump on the comments made in April and claim them as his own?
Update 2: Paul Maier has told me via email "I know nothing about this", and described the idea as "off-the-wall".
TheLostSymbol.com now has a challenge live and ready to play, in which you must identify 33 symbols correctly (symbolic itself of the 33 degrees in Scottish Rite Freemasonry) in order to hear a short message from Dan Brown himself. You must get to all 33 with *no* errors, even though it seems to give you three strikes.
If you're stuck, or just a bit lazy, click on 'Read More' for my solutions, and to find out what Dan Brown says at the end:
I've been feeling plenty of tension in recent comments by Freemasons regarding the upcoming release of The Lost Symbol, and there's evidence of it again in this recent story on Beliefnet. The story does a good job of getting comment from Masonic officials and pundits including Richard Fletcher, Chris Hodapp, Mark Koltko-Rivera and Jay Kinney.
Personally, I think DB will be pretty kind to Freemasonry - I believe he's more likely to champion the Brotherhood overall (it has far more redeeming qualities than the Illuminati of Angels and Demons). If so, and Masonic societies play it right, there is a real opportunity for Freemasonry to win back some lost ground over the past couple of decades. And there are some Masons that definitely recognise this fact:
"This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime chance for this fraternity. Not to go trawling in shallow waters for new members, but to educate the public and make sure men know who we are, where we are, and what we offer them," Hodapp said in his blog. In Washington, officials at the landmark Temple of the Scottish Rite, which sits about a dozen blocks north of the White House, said are bracing themselves for expected bus loads of curious tourists in the weeks surrounding the book's release.
I'm hoping that The Lost Symbol will show Freemasonry as a guiding light to knowledge and good will to all humanity, with its influence on the Invisible College/Royal Society and the Founding of the United States just two pieces of the puzzle which Brown could elaborate on as evidence.
As you can see, The Cryptex has had a redesign! Hope it's pleasing to the eye and offers a nice Brownian vibe while browsing all things Dan and The Lost Symbol. Things are still being polished and squared away, so apologies if you come across any rough edges over the next few days - if you do, please post a comment and let me know.
In an exclusive weeklong series, TODAY is launching a countdown to the release of bestselling author Dan Brown’s new novel, “The Lost Symbol.”...“TODAY's Search for the Lost Symbol” begins Tuesday, September 8 and culminates with a rare sit-down interview with Brown and Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday, September 15, the day the book hits stores. The interview will be Brown’s first television interview for the book release.
In recent weeks, Lauer has been busy travelling to top-secret locations that play key roles in “The Lost Symbol.” Beginning Tuesday, September 8, TODAY will reveal exclusive clues to these locations, one clue a day through September 15. The book’s most important scenes take place in these locations, and viewers are encouraged to log onto TODAYshow.com each day to try to solve the mystery. TODAY will reveal the answers to all of the clues Wednesday, September 16, after the book’s release.
For those Generation Z folk out there who now only read on the Kindle, you'll be very happy to learn that Dan Brown's publisher has announced that eBook version of The Lost Symbol will be released simultaneously with the hardcover on September 15 (pre-order from Amazon US).
And if you are a Kindle-ite, you might also want to check out The Guide to The Lost Symbol, which is available right now for just $5.99.
Hidden away on Dan Brown's newly designed website is an 'easter egg' - a link to the very first line of his new book The Lost Symbol.
**Spoiler alert: avert your eyes if you don't want the answer**
For those that do want to know the answer, it can be found by going to the section on The Da Vinci Code, selecting 'Resources', clicking on the link to the "Reader's Guide", and then scrolling to the bottom of that page. There you'll find a symbol, if you click on that it takes you to the 'reveal'. The first line of the book is "The secret is how to die." Not exactly a giveaway of the plot, but certainly a tantalising start!
Just noticed that Dan Brown's website has had a *major* makeover. On the new site is a placeholder for an upcoming 'Symbol Quest' (probably, like the previous webquests, based on the codes on the cover of the book). Also on the new site is a PDF of the book cover for The Lost Symbol, which also shows the spine of the book - and more hidden codes. As such, I've updated my article on the codes hidden on The Lost Symbol book cover to include the latest discoveries.
One thing worth noting is that the very nicely-designed keyhole on the spine has an image of the Washington Monument embedded within it. More D.C. scene-setting, or an indication that the Washington Monument is going to be 'key' to the plot? The Solomon Key, as it were....?
Lots of talk today about an article in The Scotsman which supposedly has "leaked information" from the plot of The Lost Symbol. The article says that Masonic authority Robert Cooper has access to an inside source who had told him that Brown's upcoming book would show that "the country's 'founding father,' Washington was actually a traitor who had been secretly negotiating with the British during the American War of Independence."
The cloak and dagger tone of the article feeds well into the feel of a Brownian mystery, but the reality may leave a bit to be desired. When questioned about this inside knowledge about the book, Cooper had this to say in a comment on the "Key to the Lost Symbol Clues" blog:
In short the piece in the Scotsman was all mine save a casual exchange with a fellow Freemason at the begining of the year. I come to the conclusion I simply asked the question what would be the most outragous thing Brown could claim about Washington? A criminal? Not pwerful enough. A womaniser? Nothing really sensational about that. An alien? Too extreme. A traitor? Ah... If you told the average US citizen that Washington was a traitor, that the founding father of the USA was a liar, cheat and a traitor I think that you can imagine the reaction. It is that kind of reaction that Brown wants. Outrage = sales. But then, you have to remember that I am an arch cynic and so could be misleading myself!
It's unclear if Cooper is playing this down to protect his "source", or whether the story is simply a major beat-up. Certainly, it seems that these "leaks" should probably be taken with a few grains of salt, for now at least...
For those looking to pass the time before the release of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (Sept. 15), this might provide some fun and fascination: I've updated and converted my Guide to the book into Kindle format. You can pick it up from the Amazon Kindle store for the very low price of just $5.99!