Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” is awful. Her eyes were as big as saucers when it hit her like an uncoming train.

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I’ll leave more detailed reviews for others, but here is something I found particularly stupid, at page 31. Protagonist Robert Langdon is lecturing to one of his freshman “intro” Harvard classes:

…”In this age when different cultures are killing each other over whose definition of God is better, one could say the Masonic tradition of tolerance and open-mindedness is commendable.” Landon paced the stage. “Moreover, Masonry is open to men of all races, colors and creeds and provides a spiritual fraternity that does not discriminate in any way.”

“Doesn’t discriminate?” A member of the university’s Women’s Center stood up. “How many women are permitted to be Masons, Professor Langdon?”

And how did Professor Langdon know that the student was “a member of the University’s Women’s Center”? Was she wearing a designatory tee shirt or badge? Or was she simply inadequately feminine looking? Did she not have any other identifying characteristics? Or is it simply that in Dan Brown’s world any student who points out that the Masons do not allow women into their membership must by definition be “a member of the university’s Women’s Center” because a normal woman student would never pose such a rude and belligerent question?

–Ann Bartow

This entry was posted in Academia, Feminism and the Arts, Hackery, Sociolinguistics, The Underrepresentation of Women. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” is awful. Her eyes were as big as saucers when it hit her like an uncoming train.

  1. efink says:

    Presumably she had the tell-tale scarlet letter “W” tattoo on her forehead.

  2. us1npacah says:

    ooh I read it nonstop because secretly in the background I just wanted to know what the hype was all about. Other than that check page 111. Dan Brown had the utmost awesome idiotic allegories I have ever heard! Other than that I’m a bit peeved I had to pay 39.90 for a hardcover book that only deserves paperback status..a la sidney sheldon. And the ending was boring, the work is a bit sexist despite having a leading female noetic scientist who works underground at the smithsonian. Sigh. Other than that, it was allright, but a little to highbrow and thriller for me. A Harvard populist version of James Bond. And oh, Peter Solomon’s impeccable pedigree is only marred by the fact that he went to a second-rate university – Yale. Really? I was unaware of that and it’s a bit foolish to rate universities when there are other universities in the world whose had a good number of nobel prize professors and they’re not in the world’s top twenty? La di da.

  3. emtzalex says:

    Not that it matters, but the Women’s Center at Harvard doesn’t have a membership. It is run by the college, and it’s a resource center open to all the undergrads (and probably grad students, if they needed it) though it is primarily directed at the women on campus.

    I don’t really understand why people still feel the need for single gender organizations. A good friend of mine was trying to get me to pledge his frat (also unofficial, since Harvard has a non-discrimination rule for all student orgs) and the crux of his argument was that they weren’t homophobic, so it would okay to join. While I appreciate the fact that the gay brothers boasted about their sexual conquests on the listserve, that doesn’t change the fact that they exclude people from membership on the basis of gender. But I’m probably preaching to the choir.

    Also, not totally relevant, but didn’t the Masons exclude black men from joining for many years? Like, almost as long as the AMA.

  4. Anita Bernstein says:

    When they ask their belligerent questions, do Langdon’s/Brown’s students stand up? Mine don’t.

  5. Ann Bartow says:

    Apparently so. The class contained FIVE HUNDRED students, per page 27, so maybe they had to stand up to be heard. But that makes it all the more remarkable that Professor Landon knew that the particular student was “a member of the university’s Women’s Center.”

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