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.”

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine