A Likely Story: The Da Vinci Code as Work on Myth
Theory of myth is used as an explanatory framework within which to explore the enormous and controversial popular appeal of the novel The Da Vinci Code, first published in 2003. The Da Vinci Code is a site of contestation between truth and falsity. Modernity has used the category of myth to contain and control false stories that claim to be true. Myth is characterised here as story-with-significance but also as story believed by people other than scholars and the guardians of legitimate culture. The novel reinserts story into religious history, finding 'natural' significances to replace those progressively exposed and expunged by scholarship and liberal theology. Code's major themes, the sacred feminine and the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, endorse popular knowledge about religion, inheritance, identity, community and gender, knowledge that is threatened by detraditionalisation, feminism, and modernity's emphasis on the autonomous individual. The bloodline myth's move into the category of fiction further blurs the boundaries between the legitimately true and the mythically false.