Library of Congress (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)
Our first stop in 2010 on Julie O’Connor’s Magical, Mystical, Masonic Photo Tour of Washington, DC brings us to the Library of Congress.
Robert Langdon reaches the Library (in Chapter 46) through an underground tunnel from Congress, led by Warren Bellamy. They enter the library, rush up a staircase, pass through a wide hall lined by eight pairs of statues of Minerva, and then “through a vaulted archway, into a far grander space:”
Even in the dim, after-hours lighting, the library’s great hall shone with the classical grandeur of an opulent European palace. Seventy-five feet overhead, stained-glass skylights glistened between paneled beams adorned with rare “aluminum leaf” — a metal that was considered to be more precious than gold at one time. Beneath that, a stately course of paired pillars lined the second-floor balcony, accessible by two magnificent curling staircases whose newel posts supported giant bronze female figures raising torches of enlightenment.
The Lost Symbol may be an adventure story and a brainteaser. But, as we point out in Secrets of The Lost Symbol, it can also be viewed as a love song to literature: A book lies at the heart of its mystery, the “Lost Word” is its deepest secret, and dozens of books and authors are mentioned by name. In fact, one could read the entire work as an argument for the extraordinary power of words.
Seen in this light, the Library of Congress is more than just a backdrop for the action. It’s an integral part of the plot. Little wonder then, that Dan Brown takes such pleasure in not only having his characters move through the space but also in writing them into the library’s distribution system itself, as Langdon and Katherine escape on a conveyor belt to the library’s Adams Building.
For more of our thoughts on Dan Brown’s celebration of the written word, and to find out more about the Library of Congress — its history, its architecture, its links with Freemasonry, and its enormous collection– buy Secrets of The Lost Symbol or download it as an e-book.