The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

His best-selling novels illuminate the shadowy organisations that supposedly run the world. But Dan Brown was “honoured” to receive an invitation to join the Freemasons, the arcane fraternity whose tentacles are said to extend into the highest echelons of power.

Tonight the Da Vinci Code author made a rare public appearance, discussing his latest Dante-inspired blockbuster, Inferno, in front of 1,500 fans in London.

The choice of venue, Freemason’s Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, reflects the author’s fascination with the male-dominated medieval society, founded in London, which has long been the centre of conspiracy theories about its supposed global influence.

“I would be honoured to be a Mason,” Brown told the Independent before the event. “You don’t get ‘invited’ by the Masons but they sent a clear message that the door is open if I ever want to join.”

Brown’s 2009 novel The Lost Symbol suggested that the government in Washington was secretly run by a coven of Freemasons practising sinister rites.

However Brown said: “I’ve nothing but admiration for an organisation that essentially brings people of different religions together, which is what they do."

“Rather than saying ‘we need to name God’, they use symbols such that everybody can stand together.”

Everybody except women, who are refused entry. “I guess it’s a little oxymoronic,” said Brown. “But there are certainly women’s organisations and I think there’s a place for men to be together alone.”

Brown portrayed Opus Dei as a sinister Catholic cult in the Da Vinci Code. Inferno introduces The Consortium, a secretive organisation pulling strings behind the scenes which the book claims is an amalgamation of real groups. Yet Brown sees the Masons as an entirely benign fraternity.

“Freemasonry is not a religion but it is a venue for spiritual people to come together across the boundaries of their specific religions,” he said. “It levels the playing field.”

The author’s only hesitation before undertaking the notorious Masonic initiation ritual is that he would have to take a “vow of secrecy” and would be unable to utilise his masonic insights in future novels.

Inferno sold 228,000 hardback copies during its first UK week on sale. The figure does not include ebooks which can now account for more than 50 per cent of sales. Brown holds the record for the fastest-selling UK hardback with The Lost Symbol, which sold 550,946 copies during its 2009 opening week.

Already tipped to be the year’s best-seller, Inferno sends Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon on a chase through Florence, Venice and Istanbul, to prevent a deadly virus from spreading across the globe.

The body count remains low and Brown is concerned that violence in popular culture is a factor in the recent spate of US high-school shootings.

 “I don’t put in anything that’s gratuitous,” Brown, 48, said. “I think video games are very dangerous,” he said. “The quantity of hours that people play these first person shooter games. It becomes a reality of some sort, and that’s a part of it.”

“It really comes down to educating schools and parents. To say ‘you know what, you can’t play that, sorry, I’m just not going to let you do it’.”

Brown adds: “In the US it’s kind of funny that you can see brutal violence on television but sex is taboo.”

Reviewers called Inferno, which presents Langdon with a series of puzzles inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, “clunky” and repetitive. But the author would not swap his 200 million sales for a positive critique. “You wish they loved you but when they don’t life goes on. I just write the book that I wanna read. I’m here for my fans not the critics.”

The book suggests that a new Black Death-style “cull” might be the most effective way of dealing with an imminent population crisis. “I was absolutely staggered when I learned that in the last 85 years the population has tripled – that’s 200,000 new people every day,” the author said. “It’s a big problem it will require a big solution and that may be one of them. We may want to step in and do it in a more humane way than nature is going to.”

Inferno also gives Brown an opportunity to renew hostilities with the Catholic Church over its attitude to contraception. “I only mention the Vatican once and that’s just to say we’ve got a problem and it’s a dangerous policy to say we should not manage our numbers.”

Despite the furore which The Da Vinci Code provoked from Catholic groups, Brown has become something of a pin-up with nuns. “A lot of nuns wrote to me and said ‘Thank you for pointing out that we have dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ and we are still not fit to stand behind the altar. We’ve given up everything for Jesus and because we’re women, we can’t participate behind the altar.’”

The church should reconcile itself to gay marriage too. “I think that everyone should have the exact same rights regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else.”

Although he has no plans to retire Langdon, Brown would like to find a way to take the character to Asia in future instalments. He may also launch an entirely new literary franchise, write a “techno thriller” or publish a straight historical biography.

If you spot an anonymous figure perusing a historic landmark in the UK’s capital, it could well be Brown conducting his undercover research. “London is still a treasure trove of Robert Langdon potential,” he said. “I don’t talk much about what I’m working on next but of course the UK is an incredible spot. I definitely will be back in my baseball hat and glasses.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition