Friday, April 07, 2006

Justice of the Petard Sort

From today's headlines: Multimillion-selling author Dan Brown has won his court case against two authors who claim he copied their ideas. Well, of course he did. And that's only just.

Everyone knows that Brown was sued by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of the hack work Holy Blood, Holy Grail, who claimed Brown borrowed their ideas for his hack novel, The Davinci Code. Both hack jobs claim that Jesus didn't die and rise from the dead, that He shacked up with Mary Magdalene somewhere in Gaul (now France), and that the whole thing is being covered up by ominously-portrayed Catholic organizations like the Vatican, the Knights Templar and Opus Dei. If that's not funny enough, here's another . . . .

The main reason I think Baigent and Leigh lost is that they claimed to be telling the truth. In their wacked-out universe, Holy Blood, Holy Grail isn't an airport-rack potboiler, it's a monument to accuracy and diligent investigation. It's history. That's why they lost.

If Holy Blood, Holy Grail is history, that means The DaVinci Code is historical fiction. Baigent and Leigh don't have any more reason to sue Brown for plagiarism than Shelby Foote, who wrote a history of the War Between the States, would have had to sue Michael Shaara for his novel about Gettysburg.

Too bad Baigent and Leigh didn't admit Holy Blood, Holy Grail is really just a comic book without the pictures, a bad practical joke they played on everyone without a brain or the education required to use one. They might have scored some bucks. While an author like Brown can't plagiarize history, he can plagiarize a silly little made-up story. Pride goeth before a fall, or a goose-egg verdict, as the case may be.