Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Da Vinci Code -- again

Yesterday’s Times law supplement had an article about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Brown’s alleged plagiarism of an earlier book by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh (plus Henry Lincoln), The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Unfortunately you have to register to read it.

The article, which was written by Margaret Tofalides and Alasdair Bleakley, of Addleshaw Goddard’s media group, echoed my own earlier forecast (post of 17 September) that Baigent and Leigh will have a hard time proving that Brown copied enough of their work to get them any compensation.

However, I do have one little problem with Tofalides’s and Bleakley’s analysis. They say that, ‘according to Baigent and Leigh, Brown has borrowed heavily from their novel.’

Well, m’Lud -- if I may have permission to speak – it is, admittedly, some years since I read the Baigent and Leigh opus on the holy grail, and I did, admittedly, consider it a work of quite remarkable imagination at the time, but it was not, unless my faculties have deteriorated to an extent greater than hitherto suspected, a novel. No, m’Lud. By no means.

By way of evidence, m’Lud, I submit the fact that Amazon has the book classified as religion and spirituality, history. The publisher (Random House/Arrow) has it under religion and beliefs. The British Library catalogue has both the 1982 and the 1996 editions of the book classified as Dewey decimal number 001, which is the knowledge section. (My own novels, by contrast, turn up in class 823.) The book also has an index and a bibliography, which should give readers a clue as to its nature. It is said to be based on ten years of research. It may, for all I know, be a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end, but the authors appear to believe that they are dealing in fact.

So, whatever else Baigent et al may be alleging in their case against Dan Brown, it is unlikely to be that he copied the plot of their novel.

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