Saturday, February 4, 2012

CSDL 2012 - The Da Vinci Code Collaborative Writing

Syntactic and Style Analisis of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
As an example of Collaborative Writing

Dan Brown required 88 sentences in his prologue of The Da Vinci Code to lure more than a hundred-million readers and hook them up to his mystery novel about the Holy Grail, the sacred femenine and the supposed marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. Obviously, all grammar and style features, however simple might seem at first, have successfully arisen everybody's interest: quite a few verbless noun phrases, mostly copulative and intransitive verbs in simple or coordinate sentences, subordinate clauses linked with colloquial connectors, fifteen gerund clauses, frequent dislocation of complements -anastrophes- and use of adjuncts, quite a few apparently naive repetitions, numerous omissions of relative pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and figures of speech reduced to little more than one single personification.

Most of these features are more common in spoken language and, therefore, confere the prologue a very colloquial -almost informal- style which eases up the reader's understanding of the action at the same time that it increases our curiosity about the reasons for the murder and the secret kept worthy of one's life.

As an educator and amateur writer, it is impossible to resist the temptation of a more extensive analysis of the rest of chapters to confirm -or not- these and other features of the novel in an obvious attempt to break the code of Dan Brown's artistic feat. My victims have been four classes of credit and non-credit English language students including a class group of teachers and professors. Each student has been given a chapter of the novel to analyze and, then, deliver a guided composition with their results which put together with an introduction, objectives and conclusions would conform a perfect example of collaborative writing, ready to publish and perdure for further researching endavours and comparisons with other linguistic sources like movie transcripts, classic novels, articles from newspapers or magazines, spoken records, etc...

My students' conclusions have proved more accurate than anticipated, uncovering a subtle connection between the grammar choices -in narrative or direct speech- and the characters' psychological traits. Therefore, revealing a deeper richness of style than usually attributed to the author. Besides, we will have to agree that the plot is extremely complex which together with the vast variety of topics researched or mentioned account for the tremendous success of the novel. Dan Brown has striken a cultural nerve, someone said; personally, I modestly think he has drawn from Jung's collective unconscious, that is, everybody's secret knowledge, convictions and dreams.

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