Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chapter 21

Brown seems quite pleased with the didactic idea. Despite the fact that we (and Langdon) have already deduced that Sophie is the smarter of the duo, it seems to offend the author's natural order of things to have his feminine lead in a dominant, teaching role. So we see her at six, having sfumato explained to her by the renowned curator.

There's a neat transition from Saunière's comment about secrets to Langdon's realisation about the true meaning of "P.S." But Brown has to ruin it with a particularly inept piece of writing.

"Like a peal of thunder, a career's worth of symbology and history came crashing down around him." There are good similes, and there are not-so-good similes, but the worst kind of simile is the sort that seems superficially OK, but when you give it more than cursory attention, reveals itself to make no sense whatsoever. Brown seems to have spotted the loose connection between the words "thunder" and "crash", thrown the two concepts into the mixing bowl, and wandered off without tasting the mixture.

Thunder may indeed crash, but it doesn't crash down around anyone. It happens up in the sky. Things that crash down around you might be say, some pots and pans that fall of a shelf when a cat knocks them off. Or any last vestige of hope that Dan Brown has English as a first language.


Blogger Valerie said...

Your last sentence caused great fright to my cat, when I actually (as opposed to virtually) laughed out loud. (Anyone else think 'LOL' a bit overused after 25 years of lying about the poker-faced idiots typing it? But anyway —)

I hadn't really thought about the fact that Brown's deliberately cast the story from the point of view of the less-sharp character until your last few posts. Do you think that, like many of his extraneous explanations, this was an effort to appeal to the perceived lower intelligence of the masses? Does he think that people would be put off by an overly intelligent narrator? Perhaps he thinks he's emulating the Sherlock Holmes/Watson effect? But Watson is not the bumbler he plays himself as.

It's an interesting question, though. Do we feel better identifying with a bright narrator, who might solve problems more quickly than we do, or does that make use either feel stupid or lose trust in the story?

Or is this just misogyny?

4:54 pm  
Blogger Joel said...

"Langdon opened the cupboard of meaning and found that all the history and symbology had been stacked incorrectly by the previous user, and they toppled onto his head like a big avalanche of... stuff and things."

6:19 pm  
Blogger Spinsterella said...

I think it's a male-writing-bad-thrillers thing.

Please see 'THe Little Drummer Girl' by John Le Carre for the WORST bit of female characterisation EVER.

(We had to do it at uni as an example of what people actually read.)

Anyhow - are we supposed to have figured out wahtever it is that Langdon has just twigged? Cos I haven't.

7:34 pm  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

Valerie: If you make your narrator stupid so the reader identifies with him, what does that say about the author's perception of his readership?

Joel: I have an image of him lying on the floor, with stars and tweety birds circling his head (from which a large bump emerges).

Spin: I got it because I'd read The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail about a decade before. But it's all bollocks, I warn you.

8:40 am  

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