How the Influence of The Da Vinci Code is Still Felt Today

September 20, 2019 1:14 pm

It may be one of the best-selling novels of all time, but Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code continues to be a polarising book. Literary critics were largely damning of the quality of the prose, while historians exposed many of Brown’s apparently true statements as wholly inaccurate. Yet The Da Vinci Code didn’t sell over 80 million copies by accident.

Brown’s narrative, structured around religious conspiracies and secret societies, scratched an itch that many people might not have realised they had. The novel follows Harvard professor, Robert Langdon, as he investigates a potential conspiracy surrounding the relationship between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, an investigation that takes him to murder scenes, tombs, and the mysterious rituals of the Priory of Sion.

Brown begins the novel by declaring that the Priory of Sion is a genuine organisation that has existed in the shadows since the 11th century. Historians have since debunked that theory and proven the Priory is a hoax, yet Brown presents its existence as historical fact. Brown’s confident declarations gave new momentum to the Priory of Sion theorists and the conspiracy genre as a whole.

The Guardian explored how the desire for conspiracy novels with religious themes swelled after The Da Vinci Code flew off shelves. The controversial plot was the source of great debate, but what is not for dispute is the cultural impact of the book. The contentious nature of Brown’s theories made The Da Vinci Code essential reading, so it is no surprise to see the book have considerable influence in other areas of popular culture.

Video games have followed the lead of The Da Vinci Code by tapping into the human interest in conspiracies and secret societies. Many fans of the Mortal Kombat series are drawn to the reclusive Lin Kuei faction of warriors, with legendary characters like Sub-Zero and Sektor products of the ancient order which still features in this year’s release, Mortal Kombat 11. Similarly, on iGaming websites such as Videoslots, you can play The Shadow Order if you want to be immersed in an alternative , with players able to move through levels of the online slot to solve mysteries and uncover the secrets of the Order. 

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the plot continues on from the running theme of the video game series by featuring plots from the shadowy Patriots organisation, the group secretly in control of the United States in theMGSuniverse.

Secret societies and conspiracies lend themselves perfectly to the world of gaming: they provide conflict between believers and dissenters, and they offer up tantalising mysteries to be solved. However, a video game is more detachable from reality than a novel, which is why Brown’s immersive presentation of myths as facts irritated literary critics and historians alike.

However, if you can take the historical aspects of The Da Vinci Code with a pinch of salt, then there is an intriguing work of conspiracy fiction at its core. The novel will remain a constant point of comparison for new books and novelists who continue to set foot in the genre. Alan Jacobson’s, The Lost Codex,and Jon Land’s, The Tenth Circle, are two recent novels that dive into a Brown-esque world of cabals and conspiracies and were hence well received by Brown book fans.

The success of detective thrillers shows an inherent human interest in mysteries, with Brown taking this to a grander scale with his conspiracies regarding religion and the very fabric of society. The Da Vinci Code energised the conspiracy genre across a wide array of innovative books and video games and, while it might not have been for everyone, sales of over 80 million copies show that Dan Brown definitely found a faithful audience. 

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