For some strange, inexplicable reason, Dan Brown has given the world a “Young Adult Adaptation” of The Da Vinci Code, published today.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t sensed any groundswell of yearning for such a thing, thirteen years after the original publication. (And as of this moment, it’s ranked at about half a millionth on Amazon) After all, it’s not like the original was Proust-level writing. It was (unfortunately) on quite a few high school reading lists back in the day, and a couple of
weeks ago, my 6th grader said one of his classmates was reading it.
I wondered what might be different about an “abridged” or “young adult” version. Would there be vampires? Would Robert Langdon fight the albino monk in the dystopian ruins of Paris? Would Sophie shop the Champs Elysees with her squad? Well, I found one answer in a review:
So, what have they edited out to make the book suitable for the young adult market? Basically, the expletives, some of the bloodier violence, the detailed description of the flashback scene where Sophie Neveu witnesses her grandfather in flagrante during a ritual, and some of Robert’s lengthier explanations regarding ancient sex rites and similar. From this one might therefore deduce that swearing, violence and sex are taboo subjects for teen literature in the 21st Century, which makes me wonder if the editors of this abridged version have actually read any modern YA books themselves?!
And then another in the Amazon description:
Includes over twenty color photos showing important locations and artwork,
Ah, okay..but wasn’t there some of that in the original? I don’t remember. Oh, and…
and publication timing connects to the film release of Inferno!
Inferno…in which Brown/Hanks/Langdon do Dante. Oh, I get it. Fine.
Yes…Dante! Dante’s death mask! We’ve got to get to Florence!
(So why not do some good and release a version of The Divine Comedy ?)
Okay…back in the day, I wrote a little book about the DVC. I don’t want to rehash everything, but for readers who weren’t around back then, the short version:
I didn’t care about DVC. One iota. But then I started getting emails from people who were either convinced that the historical claims were true or were being annoyed by others who were arguing about Mary Magadalene and Jesus. To add to this, one day we were in Cincinnati at one of those “Treasures of the Vatican” type exhibits that occasionally tours and there were two middle-aged women standing in front of a reproduction of Leonardo’s Last Supper (not in the Vatican, I know…in Milan, yes. But I think it was there as a backdrop to some liturgical paraphanalia). One woman pointed to the figure of the apostle John and said to the other, very authoritatively, “You know, that’s really Mary Magdalene there.” It wasn’t “this book says” or “this novel says” or “I’ve heard.” It was that’s Mary Magdalene up there next to Jesus.
At that point I decided that someone should do a pamphlet, at least. I suggested it. OSV said, nah. Then a few weeks later, OSV came back to me and said, well, yes, they wanted a response to the DVC after all. A book. Could I pull a manuscript together in two weeks?
I hesitated a bit , but then thought about it and agreed. It wasn’t hard. It’s short, and I was basically just sharing a lot of church history, which I had taught at the high school level and had an MA in, and was packaging it for…a bit lower than a high school level. I saw it as an opportunity to do some teaching about the early Church, but just in a weird, backwards kind of way.
So that’s that. The book is out of print now, and when I heard about this YA version, I thought it would be a good opportunity to put the text back out there. So here it is on this page – downloadable as a pdf file. Sorry I can’t get any fancier than that, but here we are.