The Heroic Absurdity of Dan Brown


The heroic absurdity of Dan Brown.

This review from The Guardian is currently linked on Arts and Letters Daily, a site I visit regularly.  The author, Clive James, does a wonderful job of balancing snobbish literary disdain and appreciation for a book that has great appeal.  The review begins, ” As a believer in the enjoyably awful, I would recommend this book wholeheartedly if I could. But it is mainly just awful. Nevertheless it is still almost worth reading.”

Dan Brown’s Inferno was an entertaining read. Any book with an exciting plot, an interesting setting, a puzzle to solve, and information to research will hold my attention to the final page.

I know Dante’s Inferno only from a wonderful book of Dore’s engravings, other art works, and literary references.  Not a traveller, I have never been to the cities Brown describes so lavishly, and have seen the art works only as photographed. So I also spent some time reading background information  online,  and came away from the experience feeling enriched, rather than embarrassed about time wasted. I had fun, and I learned some interesting things.

I can forgive a few misplaced commas and exuberant hyperbole.   As James concludes, “So I have no reason to begrudge Dan Brown his universal success. But I wouldn’t begrudge it anyway. I am an old man: old enough to find pretentious absurdity a diverting spectacle. There is not enough of it in this book, but its author will return, undaunted.”

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One Response to The Heroic Absurdity of Dan Brown

  1. Sufiya says:

    If I have to read a novel, I enjoy one that has something to teach me. So far dan Brown’s books have done just that. You might want to read “Foucault’s Pendulum”, for another such book.

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