Secrets of The Lost Symbol co-author Dan Burstein appears in the Washington Post Short Stack today, talking about the codes on the Lost Symbol cover and what they mean:
Using various decryption tools we can identify these three coded phrases:
ALL GREAT TRUTHS BEGIN AS BLASPHEMIES
YOUR MIND IS THE KEY
We also found on the back cover, by combining words at the top and bottom, a small but important reference to the hermetic adage:
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
In “Secrets of the Lost Symbol,” we explain the relevance of all these phrases.
Here’s just one example:
Pope’s Pantheon refers to a series of architectural works by Freemason architect John Russell Pope, who designed the Scottish Rite Freemason headquarters building on 16th Street in Washington where the opening scene and the climactic scene of “The Lost Symbol” take place.
But Pope also designed the Jefferson Memorial, which is in the shape of a classical Roman pantheon building. More than that: The whole idea of a pantheon ties in to the belief, stated many times in “The Lost Symbol,” that all gods, and all religions, are important manifestations of humankind’s search for spiritual connectedness to the universe. So even after you have decoded “Pope’s Pantheon,” you still have multiple meanings to contemplate.
When Dan Brown writes about big ideas, such as the early days of Christianity, the centuries-long tension between science and religion, or the alternate history of Mary Magdalene, readers want to know more.
In this interview, broadcast on NPR’s The Takeaway this morning, “Secrets” editor Dan Burstein explains that’s why our “Secrets” books have sold more than three million copies since Secrets of the Code was first published in 2004.
We don’t personally know all the answers. But we do go out and find the best minds–the world’s leading historians, philosophers, theologians, writers and thinkers–to try to separate fact from fiction.
Dan Brown’s latest novel, released this Tuesday, will explore American history set against the backdrop of Freemasonry. Now, what could be a more fascinating topic for us to investigate than that?
Paul Berger, Contributing Editor, Secrets of the Lost Symbol.
Do you have any other clues about research Brown’s doing?
We’ve heard from people at the Smithsonian that Brown has been bugging them for details about the museum to the point that people were getting frustrated. Which started me thinking about James Smithson. Here’s this eighteenth-century British mineralogist, friend to many important Masons, who leaves his fortune to endow an institution of science and learning in the U.S., a country he’s never been to. And then in the dawn of the twentieth century, Alexander Graham Bell, a Freemason, is on the board of regents of the Smithsonian and decides it’s important enough to go to Genoa, where Smithson is buried, and personally exhume the body and bring it back to the United States. I’m imagining what Dan Brown could do if he decided to use this stuff.
[…]Why did it take him so long to write this one?
I’ve met Dan Brown once, and it’s presumptuous to say I understand him, but I think there’s a set of personal issues. He always wanted to be a writer. If you go back to his days at Amherst—he was in a creative-writing class with David Foster Wallace. Imagine you’re sitting there with this incredible intellect and trying to figure out how you can become a writer. And what he discovers is that he has a real gift for potboilers. And then suddenly you have four books on the best-seller list, and people are suing you for plagiarism when you haven’t plagiarized anything. It only took six years. It’s not like he’s Thomas Pynchon..
We were delighted recently when Sara Nelson, the esteemed former editor of Publisher’s Weekly, declared in a Daily Beast commentary that our book, Secrets of the Lost Symbol, was “sure to be a blockbuster.” Her comment was made in the context of analyzing the various authors and publishing houses who have moved their fall schedule around to benefit from (or not be hurt by) the Dan Brown tsunami expected to begin in bookstores on September 15.
Nelson questioned how much benefit The Lost Symbol would actually provide to other books: Will customers who go into their local bookstore to pick up The Lost Symbol on September 15 actually walk out with any other purchase? Or, in this tough economic time, will people only buy what they came in for? In this context, Nelson observed:
But surely there is one class of books that can’t help but benefit from the Brown-ing of America…and that’s the …guide books…Take, for example, William Morrow’s forthcoming Secrets of the Lost Symbol, which will examine the “alternate histories… [and] labyrinth of conspiracies… that have populated Dan Brown’s blockbusters,” much as author Daniel Burstein’s previous books examined Brown’s earlier efforts. That one’s sure to be a blockbuster in its own right, right? Well, right—except I can’t for the life of me figure out why it won’t be in stores until well after The Lost Symbol launches and the all-important Christmas season ends. Its pub date is now slated for December 29.
Sara: We appreciate your concern about the pub date and, since your Daily Beast post, we have worked with William Morrow/HarperCollins to move it up. Our publishers now assure us that our Secrets of the Lost Symbol will be in stores before Christmas. The perfect holiday gift for anyone on your list who is a Dan Brown fan! Thanks, Sara, for your confidence in us!