3.6.13

PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MALTHUS.

There's a large stack of books finished, awaiting a review to be posted.  The logical thing to do, thus, is to get back to work by making Book Review No. 8 the recently-released Inferno by Dan Brown.


I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum by noting that a reader familiar with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six will quickly pick up where this story is going.  Rainbow Six came out before I learned of the Fifty Book Challenge, and it's my practice to post only reports on current reading, or not so current as other tasks get in the way ...

The contrasts in styles between Dan Brown and Tom Clancy are more instructive.  Mr Brown is a prep-school graduate with apparent sympathies for environmentalist intellectuals.  Mr Clancy is none of these.  Mr Brown's bad guys are more complicated, and more subtle.

I finished the book itself in two readings.  Could have gone through all of it in one evening and pretended to act interested in work the next afternoon, but opted instead to mark my place and finish up later, and rested.

I'll use this post to pose a couple of additional mysteries.

One: is Mr Brown taking up the cause of alienated smart people?  Two of the principal female characters have faced great challenges along the way to achieving high professional standing.  Professor Robert Langdon (Dan Brown's alter ego?) has never married: is it a consequence of hard work, or turned off by the menu of attractive-but-ditzy, or intelligent-but-harridanish, females that occupy the world of art history?

Two:  how much more can a clever writer do with Dante as a scaffold?  The title to my post refers to a conversation I had on a train, years ago, with a professor of English (back before the discipline went nuts) who was working on an analysis of Pudd'nhead Wilson as Divine Comedy.  I remember something from that conversation about "Macaroni Vermicelli" along with other references to Venice as an anagram of Vergil's full name, and there is something in the book about the nine full circles the lower Mississippi River makes.  But I don't find the paper that was in progress, or references to that paper, in any inspections of Google Scholar or the older citation indices.

Leave all that aside, though, and bring Inferno along on your next long train ride.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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