Saturday, June 29, 2013

Interpreting Dan Brown's Inferno: Reading Between the Lines by Deborah Parker and Mark Parker

Before I review this minor snippet of the larger book I was allowed to read through, I'd like to first write my review of Dan Brown's Inferno.

Dan Brown is far from a 'one hit wonder'. I enjoyed both 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons'. So a 'two hit wonder' it is. Unfortunately, 'The Lost Symbol' and 'Inferno' have taken what 'The Da Vinci Code' paved and trampled it to death, again and again. Take the same semi-interesting Robert Langdon, give him a female lead who has no idea what's going on but readily agrees to help and do whatever it takes to see Langdon through to the end, add in some highly 'classified' organization with endless amounts of money and political, military, and police connections, including assassins, who apparently can't track and find a bewildered professor with a British clothing fetish and tease the reader with a few interesting tidbits from art history and history in general, which in the end might or might not be true, and with that recipe you have Dan Brown's last three attempts at writing fiction. In the case of 'Inferno' you'll spend more time getting to know gardens, passageways, and bridges throughout Florence than anything else. Have you ever wanted to experience Florence, or maybe Venice? Read this book. Or did you want a thriller with interesting character development and plot? Sorry, you won't find any of that here. It's definitely a page turner, but more often than not you'll want to turn that page to forget what you just read and the fact that you've lost time you'll never get back. The few twists that Brown incorporates come too late to make up for the superfluous descriptions of museums and architecture that make up the majority of the text. Keep trying to recreate that Da Vinci wheel Mr. Brown, no luck thus far.

With that out of the way, Interpreting Dan Brown's Inferno, was somewhat of a let down for me.  Although I find Dante interesting, from both a historical and literary point of view, analyzing Inferno with Dante in mind seems to be an exercise in futility.  Literary analysis in general already takes a good amount of literary license.  Overall, there's something very interesting in attempting to deconstruct or analyze an original piece of literature and showcase the historical context it was written in (what it says about the time and place it was published) and how it can be used to better understand the author, society, and contemporary ideas and ideals.  Unfortunately, with Dan Brown, such an analysis is a lost cause.  The only thing the authors can reference is Dante himself, while grasping at straws at what Brown might have meant or alluded to, but in fact they themselves admit there are plenty of errors and mistakes which might have been made on purpose.  I can save them some time and effort - they weren't.  Brown isn't interested in historical or literary accuracy, he's interested in conspiracy theories and secret organizations/societies, and the former hardly deals with accuracy or facts.  Nor is Brown a paragon of literary excellence in need of detailed analysis.  For those interested in linking Dante to Inferno, this 'Reading Between the Lines' offers just such an examination and comparison, but I somehow doubt the lay reader will find much of interest here.

No comments: