Dan Brown aids ailing Italy

Thursday, 21 February, 2013

Inferno “Bestselling-author Dan Brown sat down to a simple Tuscan meal of tomato stew followed by steak in a family-run trattoria.” Back in November 2004, Geoffrey Pullum revealed to readers of Language Log that when Dan Brown constructs his formulaic opening sentence “an occupational term is used with no determiner as a bare role NP premodifier of a proper name.” And it works. And those who cannot get enough of it will be thrilled to hear that relief is on the way. In May.

On Tuesday, 14 May, Inferno, the new novel by Dan Brown, will be published in the US and in the UK. The thriller will mark the fourth adventure for his symbolic protagonist Robert Langdon, who made his debut in Angels & Demons, which was set in Rome. This time, it’s the turn of Florence to provide the setting. What’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:

“In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces… Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust… before the world is irrevocably altered.”

Yesterday, here, Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, said: “We see Italy as the font of western civilisation, a sort of lesson in how to be cultured.” For Dan Brown, Italy is the gift that keeps on giving, but linguistic and literary critics should note that he also gives something in return, and it’s not just pleasure to millions of readers. In Paris, the Da Vinci Code tour costs €113, and in Rome prices for the Angels and Demons tour start at €56. Dan Brown empowers local entrepreneurs to create jobs, and both France and Italy need all the jobs they can get these days.

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