Inferno – The Dan Brownian Comedy

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First off, Comedy and Tragedy are two aspects of play. In-spite of the layman's definition, Tragedy actually refers to works written for the elite in high language whereas Comedy contains erudite knowledge but is understood by everyone. The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri is a 14,000 lines epic poem written circa 1308 AD and depicts the afterlife and the concepts of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. High intellect in simple words.

This was Dan Brown’s inspiration for his fifth Masterpiece – The Inferno (DBI), which in itself is a Comedy. The Divine Comedy (DC) is a hundred chapters long and so is the Inferno. What Dan Brown does is attempt a mimic of the epic, in a different era, on earth.

The story line is simple. If you have read the extract that was released a few months ago, it pretty much conveys the plot. An impending disaster awaits, enclosed in a time bomb that is set to blow on a particular day. The plot is similar to Angels and Demons. It is Robert Langdon’s job to search the bomb using references to the DC, a doctored painting and a mask. As you read through the book you almost empathize with the guy who created the bomb.

The book contains a million parables to the DC. Dan Brown hides them among puzzles, designs and others.

The cover of the hardbound edition contains Dante’s death mask in watermark at the top. Towards the centre, blood appears to be infused with a spark of fire that originates from the letter ‘F’ of 'Inferno' which probably refers to ‘Genetic Terrorism’, a word used in the novel. And below is the skyline of the beautiful Vatican where most of the story takes place. The back cover has a dove on the top that soars into flight with open wings, and a ripple behind it. This derives a parable to the novel, which is set into motion because of a dove that foils an attempt on Robert Langdon's life. The ripples thereby suggest the chaos that follows.

If you remove the paper cover, the hardbound contains a portrait of Charon who is seen ferrying souls to hell across the river Acheron thereby drawing a similarity to Langdon ferrying the characters towards the goal. Flipping over the hard cover, one can see Mount Purgatory upside down. Because in the DC, at the centre of earth gravity inverts. Up becomes Down.

As Dante travels through the three stages of Afterlife; Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, along with a poet Virgil and so does Langdon. He travels to Florence, Venice and Istanbul along with Dr Sienna Brooks, who is also an actress. The gates open to him in Florence in the DBI as does the gates of Inferno/Hell in the DC. Venice is the purgatory, where the characters realize whose side they are playing on and try to right their wrongs. Finally in Istanbul, salvation is obtained. Paradiso.

Florence is my favourite of all the cities experienced in the Assassin’s Creed. A perfect Renaissance city, it is the birth place of Dante, Leonardo Da Vinci and as Assassin’s Creed fans might be aware, is also the birth place of Lorenzo Medici and Machiavelli.

All through the novel, the colour red repeats. The blood on the cover, a red memory stick that contains a disastrous message, red cap and robe of Dante, descriptions of the buildings as well as a certain clue “blood-red waters” that Langdon will have to follow.

Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso of the DC end with the word “stars” as does DBI. A number that you might find almost everywhere in both the books is “nine”.

Being a scientist, the antagonist's study revolves about Transhumanism. Creating a super breed of humans through cleansing. In the DC, the souls are put through hell, purged and finally allowed admittance to paradise. Parable.  

As usual with Dan Brown literature, the book is replete with imagery, sometimes going over the board. But it was not sappy for me. I devoured all I could and frowned that it ended too soon.

Having read all his works, Digital Fortress still has me enraptured by the number of twists and the magnanimity in technical know how. Here in Inferno, he hits the proper chords with humor. And it has got a better ending than The Lost Symbol.

Before I part, ponder this paradox. If you can throw a switch that would instantly kill randomly half the population people on earth, will you do it?
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But know this, if you don’t throw the switch, the whole of humanity will become extinct in a few years.

Seek and ye shall find

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2 repercussions

  1. was searching for online reviews of this wondering whether to buy it or not.. thanks. A good review. And a nice question at the end... i really dont know. Maybe the former... devil and the deep sea sort of situation, isnt it ?

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    1. Thanks for the feedback Roshan. And as for your answer, I can say you would love the theme of the book. You empathize with the villain already. :)

      As would a desperate blog owner say, "Please spread the link" :).

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