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The Da Vinci Code [part E]

Foucault's Pendulum itself is reminiscent in plot, theme and structure to the earlier The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, published 13 years earlier.Opus Dei was then cast in the role of the "evil opposition", used to destroy the bloodline. As the bloodline has never proven to be real, but merely a theory proposed in "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", there is no direct inspiration for this. It is believed Opus Dei's alleged controversial past allowed Brown to weave the organisation into his novel. On a symbolic level, the Priory of Sion (male and female membership and leadership, "good") and the Opus Dei (male-only leaders, "bad") are at opposite sides of the scale. The latter is thus depicted as the attack dog of the Catholic Church, seeking to destroy the former and maintain the status quo. 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)--for example, as the novel points out, in one's orgasm, there is a short period of time when a person's mind is completely empty, when one makes contact with God. Literary significance and criticismMain article: Criticisms of The Da Vinci CodeThe book generated criticism when it was first published, due to speculations and misrepresentations of core aspects of Christianity, the history of the Roman Catholic Church, and descriptions of European art, history, and architecture. The book has received mostly negative reviews from Catholic and other Christian communities, as well as historians.Critics accuse Brown of distorting and fabricating history. For example, Marcia Ford wrote: Regardless of whether you agree with Brown's conclusions, it's clear that his history is largely fanciful, which means he and his publisher have violated a long-held if unspoken agreement with the reader: Fiction that purports to present historical facts should be researched as carefully as a nonfiction book would be. <1> Richard Abanes wrote: The most flagrant aspect ? is not that Dan Brown disagrees with Christianity but that he utterly warps it in order to disagree with it --- to the point of completely rewriting a vast number of historical events. And making the matter worse has been Brown's willingness to pass off his distortions as ?facts' with which innumerable scholars and historians agree. <2> 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 almost all academic scholars in the fields the book discusses <3>.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, while two lawsuits have been brought alleging plagiarism in The Da Vinci Code. The second, by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail claiming textual infringement of copyright, was found in Dan Brown's favor.Dan Brown himself dilutes the suggestion of some of the more controversial aspects being fact on his web site: "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." <4>. However, it also says that "these real elements are interpreted and debated by fictional characters", "it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit." and "the secret behind The Da Vinci Code was too well documented and significant for me to dismiss." It is therefore entirely understandable why there would continue to be confusion as to what is the factual content of the book.Brown's earlier statements about the accuracy of the historical information in his book, however, were far more strident. Inle promoting his novel, he was asked in interviews what parts of the history in his novel actually happened. He replied "Absolutely all of it." In a 2003 interview with CNN's Martin Savidge he was again asked how much of the historical background was true. He replied, "99 per cent is true ... the background is all true". Asked by Elizabeth Vargas in an ABC News special if the book would have been different if he had written it as non-fiction he replied, "I don't think it would have." <5> More recently Brown has avoided interviews and has been rather more circumspect about the accuracy of his claims in his few public statements. He has also, however, never retracted any of his earlier assertions that the history in the novel is accurate, despite substantial academic criticism of his claims.

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