Saturday, January 06, 2007

Chapter 3

"My French stinks," thinks Langdon, which I find somewhat hard to believe about someone with such a profound knowledge of Western art. This unlikely state of affairs does, however, allow the dialogue to proceed in English, although the chances of finding a French policemen who converses in a foreign tongue without at least one cutting remark about monoglot Anglos seem pretty slim. Still, at least we get an amusing linguistic misunderstanding/knob gag from the situation. Clouseau lives, it seems.

We get an American-in-Paris guide to the city, with special attention paid to the museums, although one suspects that the crack about "Louvre Lite" might be a case of Brown biting the hand that feeds him. To be fair, the author isn't too heavy-handed with the didacticism here, although he makes some peculiar assumptions about what his readers will or won't know: Mitterand and I.M. Pei require job descriptions; Goethe and Art Buchwald, it seems, have sufficient name recognition without.

Since the whole situation's been set up to enable Brown to conduct his action and dialogue in English, it seems a pity that he has only a passing grasp of the language. In precisely what manner is the Louvre "monolithic", especially when Brown then explains that it's shaped like a horseshoe? But he excels himself with the sentence about Monet, announcing that the artist-for-people-who-prefer-teatowels-to-art "literally inspired the birth of the Impressionist movement". Apart from the dodgy art history (Monet indirectly gave the movement its name, when one of his paintings was namechecked by Leroy, but surely Turner and Manet inspired it as much as anyone), that "literally" really does mark Brown out as an illiterate bumpkin. What did Monet do? Breathe in the concentrated essence of Degas and Renoir?

And then we meet Bezu Fache. Your homework for this evening is to come up with a decent anagram of that, in a language of your choice.


Blogger Spinsterella said...

Zebra...oh, wait, no 'r'.

Please Mr. Footman sir, don't we get weekends off?

Some of us have work to do, you know. I am literally very busy.

1:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now honestly, when did you last stand in front of 'an enormous revolving door' and ask youself, do I knock? derrr

Browns allowance 'to properly appreciate' the Louvres 65300 works of art is 5 weeks. Working 12hr days I reckon that gives about 20 something seconds per piece. Now that's what I call art appreciation.

Why can't he ever be in a decent car that doesn't require any 'gunning'

Spin: No chance....don't you go and miss Sunday school tomorrow. The rev Footman will be wearing purple!

3:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha! Yes, I did think you'd pick up on the unneccessary "literally" there.

It's quite fun to read so far, although it feels a bit like a kid's book. No matter.

6:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about "Ace fez hub" ?

I like it... no idea what it could mean.

Perhaps a 'street' compliment on how suited Monsieur Fache's head is for wearing Tommy Cooper's headwear of choice?

12:38 am  
Blogger Mangonel said...

He dun' half chuck about bijou lumpettes of titillation tho' - like who the hell has ever heard of Pepin the Short, and what ezzackly were the 'orgiastic rituals' held at the Arc du Carrousel? I loved the way the construction of that sentence made you KNOW that if only the art aficionados had known about them, they would have been the reason for the reverence.

So DB makes out he knows a lot more than he lets on, but being a writer of miraculous clarity and concision he doesn't bother telling us the trivial stuff.


Pity Wikipedia wasn't about when DB was writing this - according to them, Pepin was 'the Younger', not 'the Short'! Bugger all about his womanising - shame.

Also, what do Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun have in common?


2:03 am  
Blogger Spinsterella said...

And another thing.

It's the middle of the night. There's no mention of any traffic to get through. Langdon and the driver manage to have a fairle relaxed conversations.

So why is the siren on???

10:19 am  
Anonymous patroclus said...

Bezu Fache! I'd forgotten about that! (I still don't have a copy of TDVC - or a laptop - about my person, so am following all this in a bit of a detached manner). But Le Bezu is a mountain just opposite Rennes le Chateau, of which much is made in THBATHG, because it was allegedly the site of a Templar preceptory, whatever that is. To have it as someone's name, just for the sake of making a 'knowing' reference to the other book, is the sort of feeble, vacuous nonsense that I'd come to expect of TDVC by this point.

"Since the whole situation's been set up to enable Brown to conduct his action and dialogue in English, it seems a pity that he has only a passing grasp of the language." really made me laugh.

If Langdon's French is rubbish, it's equalled in its rubbishness by the French cryptographer bird's knowledge of British social customs; at one point she wonders if the Brits take milk in their tea, despite the fact that she WENT TO UNIVERSITY IN OXFORD AND THEREFORE SHOULD KNOW. But that joy is yet to come.

Langdon - and probably Brown - wouldn't know it, but the French have a word debile, which sort of translates to 'pathetic' (in its slang sense) but with a greater connotation of 'weakness' than the English word (or possibly only I think that, because it's similar to debole, which means 'weak' in Italian). Either way, it's a very good adjective to describe the whole book.

Mind you, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh weren't all that hot on French either, which is part of the reason they were so taken in by the whole Rennes le Chateau/Prieure de Sion hoax in the first place. So perhaps it's just art imitating life.

5:37 pm  
Blogger surly girl said...

don't make me want to read the da vinci code. sleeping through teh film was bad enough (dozed off about 20 minutes in, woke no more nor less confused and irritated than when i fell asleep).


9:48 pm  
Anonymous FakieFrenchieCop said...

Hi Tim,
you write:
"although the chances of finding a French policemen who converses in a foreign tongue without at least one cutting remark about monoglot Anglos seem pretty slim"

Pretty slim indeed, for there is no such thing as A French policemEn
(just kidding)
Peace on you too

9:54 pm  

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