So Dark the Con of Man


The Priory of Sion—a European secret society founded in 1099—is a real organization. In 1975, Paris's Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic group that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brain-washing, coercion, and a practice known as "corporal mortification." Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.   The Da Vinci Code  (2003)  p. 1


Q: How much of this novel is based on fact?

Dan Brown: All of it. The paintings, locations, historical documents, and organizations described in the novel all exist.  3/20/2003


LAUER: How much of this is based on reality in terms of things that actually occurred? I know you did a lot of research for the book. 

Mr. BROWN: Absolutely all of it. Obviously, there are--Robert Langdon is fictional, but all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.     The Today Show  6/9/2003


GIBSON: This is a novel.  If you were writing it as a non-fiction book, how would it have been different?

Mr. BROWN: I don’t think it would have.  I began the research for The Da Vinci Code as a skeptic.  I entirely expected, as I researched the book, to disprove this theory.  And after numerous trips to Europe, about two years of research, I really became a believer.     Good Morning America  11/3/2003


"I began as a skeptic," Brown said, "As I started researching The Da Vinci Code, I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer."      Dan Brown  National Geographic  12/17/2004


While the characters and storylines of The Da Vinci Code are manifestly his own contrivances, Brown stresses that all the contextual details about history, biography, location and art are true. "One of the aspects that I try very hard to incorporate in my books is that of learning," he says. "When you finish the book—like it or not—you've learned a ton. I had to do an enormous amount of research [for this book]. My wife is an art historian and a Da Vinci fanatic. So I had a leg up on a lot of this, but it involved numerous trips to Europe, study at the Louvre, some in-depth study about the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei and about the art of Da Vinci."

Weighty as it is, Brown's scholarship never slows down the sizzling action.     Edward Morris  Bookpage  April/2003


While the police think Langdon is their culprit, he teams up with a French cryptologist to uncover the truth about the hidden messages. The answers lead to discovery of a shocking historical fact, and certain people will do anything to keep it a secret. Brown solidifies his reputation as one of the most skilled thriller writers on the planet with his best book yet, a compelling blend of history and page-turning suspense. This masterpiece should be mandatory reading.     Jeff Ayers  Library Journal  2/1/2003  p. 114


Aside from the fact that its fans can claim honorary doctoral degrees in ecclesiastical history, how else does "The Da Vinci Code" weave its magic spell?... THE FEET OF CLAY FACTOR: Want to make a splash, get some attention, sell a few books? Pick on a biggie. Brown's sensational assertion that the Roman Catholic Church has been lying about Jesus and his teachings for 2,000 years is absolute catnip to readers. The novel's popularity, says Nuala O'Faolain, the Irish memoirist and novelist, grows organically from "the scandals" within the Catholic Church. "The reading public has always loved stories that chip away at establishments."     Patrick Reardon  Chicago Tribune  3/27/2006


In this gleefully erudite suspense novel, Mr. Brown takes the format he's been developing through three earlier novels and fine-tunes it to blockbuster perfection... As in his "Angels and Demons," this author is drawn to the place where empirical evidence and religious faith collide.    Janet Maslin  New York Times  3/17/2003


The story is full of brain-teasing puzzles and fascinating insights into religious history and art.    Frank Sennett  Booklist  3/1/2003


Readers with advanced degrees in comparative religion, European history, symbology, art and cryptology, will have a grand old time with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. The rest of us stumble through, grasping at this clue and that, gasping in surprise at one or another shadow around the next corner, and likewise have a grand old time. The novel is maddening, scary, complicated and almost impossible to put down once you're hooked.    Louisville Voice-Tribune


Dan Brown's extensive research on secret societies and symbology (he wrote ANGELS AND DEMONS, a bestseller about secret Italian religious societies) adds intellectual depth to this page-turning thriller. His surprising revelations on Da Vinci's penchant for hiding codes in his paintings will lead the reader to search out renowned artistic icons as The Mona Lisa, The Madonna of the Rocks and The Last Supper. The Last Supper holds the most astonishing coded secrets of all and, after reading THE DA VINCI CODE, you will never see this famous painting in quite the same way again.    Roz Shea  


Incorporating massive amounts of historical and academic information is no easy task, but Brown does it in such a seamless fashion that it is almost invisible within the story’s natural narrative.    Nadia Cornier  The Mystery Reader



Now before you read this as an author's disclaimer for any difference between the book and the movie, let me assure you it's all there --The Louvre, Saint-Sulpice, Chateau Villette, Westminster Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel, the codes, the sacred feminine, and the quiet invitation to think about faith, religion, and history with a fresh, open minded perspective.    Dan Brown  The Da Vinci Code Illustrated Screenplay  (2006)  p. 8

My recommendation to those who hold a deep fascination with The Da Vinci Code is simple. Read Dan Brown's novel, then Akiva's screenplay, then see my film version (and then do all three a second time... and tell a friend). It is my hope that all three versions tell a pleasing, slightly different, and worthy version of the same fascinating story.    Ron Howard  The Da Vinci Code Illustrated Screenplay  (2006)  p. 13


see also:

The "It's Just Fiction!" Doctrine  by Carl Olson

But It's Just Fiction!  by Mark Roberts