The Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2006
Reading between the lines—er, letters—at the Da Vinci Code copyright
By Bruce Kluger
infringement suit against The Da Vinci Code author Dan
Brown, it is up to Judge Peter Smith of London's Royal
Courts of Justice to make the final determination: Did
Brown and his researcher-wife, Blythe, appropriate "the
architecture" for the best-selling novel from historians
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's 1982 non-fiction
book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, or did the
couple whip up the acclaimed potboiler from their own
of the book and the imminent release of Ron Howard's
movie adaptation, Judge Smith has at his disposal
catch. Instead of combing through the meticulous testimony for legal clues, maybe
Judge Smith would do well to take a page from The Da Vinci Code itself, and search
the text for statements that, when unscrambled, tell a different story.
Brown: "The story is a blend of historical fact, legend, myth and fiction."
Brown decoded: "O, strife! I accidentally stole the Christ thing (on and off). My
Brown: "In these situations, I always remind Blythe I was trying to write a fast-
moving page turner."
Brown decoded: "I'm a lying two-bit word-pirater. That thieving literary genius.
Satan's finest. (Yawn.) So sue me."
Brown: "In doing so, I see that more notes have survived from The Da Vinci Code
than from any of my previous novels."
Brown decoded: "I lost my notes—I've none! My dog ate them and ran off! Then
our PC crashed. (Invasive voodoo virus!) I'm feverish ..."
Brown: "The Da Vinci Code raised eyebrows."
Brown decoded: "Yeah, I borrowed scenes. Addictive."
Brown: "I remain astounded by the claimants' choice to file this plagiarism suit."
Brown decoded: "Character assassination! Deception! Filth! Lies! O, I die! (But
am I guilty? Hmm...)"
Brown: "For them to suggest...that I have 'hijacked and exploited' their work is
Brown decoded: "This trial's a joke--a stupid whodunit! Trickery! Egos!
(Afterthought: I'm vexed. Help me...)"
Brown: "The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction...obviously
Brown decoded: "Leonardo? OK, not fiction—but he's dead! Clever, eh? Fiasco?
Foolery? No! Viva art! (I win.)"
Brown: "To give added interest to readers, many of my character names are
Brown decoded: "My artistry's overrated, fans. The codes? Arranged at random.
Gee, I am a menace."