Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dan Brown Strikes again!

Anthony Esolen reviews Inferno:

And what about the madman who concocted the virus, one Bertrand Zobrist?  Well, he is really a lover of mankind, don’t you see?  He wants to give mankind enough breathing space—because we are about to enter hell.  What is hell?  Not the loss of God.  Hell is other people—lots and lots of other people, with their garlicky food and their wailing toddlers and their excrement.  Hell is overpopulated Manila, not spiffy New England, where Dan Brown lives.  What is heaven?  Oh, heaven, that’s the brave new world around the bend, when people will be engineered to live longer and not have so many babies, so that they might, well, do whatever they please, apparently, because just as there is no point to a Dan Brown allusion or a Dan Brown metaphor or a Dan Brown travelogue, so there is no point to human existence, either.  We’ll just be nicer, and the fewer of us around to bother about, the nicer it will be.
I’m often taken to task for suggesting that we have been suffering a cultural implosion, for pointing out that an old issue of Boys’ Life is linguistically more sophisticated than the current New York Times.  May I kindly submit Dan Brown as exhibit A in my prosecution?  “That Dan Brown sure is erudite!” say reviewers around the country.  “That Dan Brown, he sure knows his art!  He sure has the goods on the Middle Ages!  His hero is a symbologist – he studies symbs!”  “That Dan Brown knows his science, don’t he!” 
I defy anyone to find for me a best-selling novel written in English before 1950 that is as relentlessly inane and chic-trite and morally destitute as this one.  In saying so, do I also mean to impugn the tastes of his readers?  Let me answer by adapting Dante’s verse over the gates to the lower world: Lasciate intelligenza, voi ch’entrate. 
Check your brains at the door, all you who enter!  Check your souls and your humanity, too. 

If you read a Dan Brown novel, you can basically feel your brain cells imploding.


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