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.”