London: Brown Sweats & Forgets; Blythe Ascends
Summary of yesterday's (Tuesday) proceedings, 14 March, Court 61, London.
Dan Brown went through some tough moments yesterday; not as excruciating as during Baigent's testimony, but he has found his and Blythe's actions under the microscope in a way that he probably never imagined.
All of the tediousness of Monday's proceedings is starting to reveal its rationale -- having established the sorts of writing that Blythe Brown did in the margins of books, the types of documents she produced and the 39 books that DB/BB consulted, the barrister for Baigent & Leigh started working to establish when DB had access to HBHG.
A quick summary of the timeline as presented by DB -- he/Blythe started research on DVC in the summer of 2000 and he put together a brief synopsis for his agent in Jan 2001 (including the Boticelli Code and the Nostradamus Code).
Shortly thereafter he produced a longer synopsis of perhaps 40-50 pages of DVC. These contained the core outline of the book, although there were numerous changes in the final edition from this synopsis the main outlines of the core plot were present.
A sidenote on elements that changed between synopsis and publication -- Silas was originally named Oedipus (an anagram of Opus Dei that DB "first thought was clever, then thought was a bit too clever"), Sophie's grandfather was originally her father, the Teabing villian was introduced later replacing a consular officer who was the villian, a Shroud of Turin plot line was dropped, etc.
According to DB, he mainly relied on 7 books (primarily the Templar Revelation--TR) which are listed in a bibliography to his synopsis. HBHG was not included in these seven so DB says he didn't use it then. He claims he only got to HBHG later in the research, late 2001 by his reckoning.
However, the barrister for Baigent & Leigh has been able to demonstrate that there is substantial circumstantial evidence DB/BB had access to HBHG prior to the synopsis.
DB's copy of TR has on its cover some blurb about being the best book since HBHG. The judge points this out. They look inside DB's copy of TR and there is on one page where there is a reference to HBHG a notation in Blythe's hand that reads "get this book".
The barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests this indicates that when DB/BB were intensively using TR they got HBHG and that they know they were using that in the summer of 2000.
DB said no, if he had gotten HBHG he would have put it in the bibliography to impress his publisher. The judge points out that TR refers to HBHG as "the essential source" for Mary bloodline topics and asks sceptically "how could you miss it?"
Brown's synopsis contains a reference in a poem about the Merovingians to "mer" being the French word for sea and "vin" being vine.
His witness statement suggets he got this from Woman in the Alabastar Jar (WAJ), p. 62.
However, that is *not* the construction in WAJ, there "Mer" is referred to as "Mary" so the combination of vine of Mary would have blookdline implications that might be important to DVC's main theme.
Where then does "Mer" as sea appear? It is mentioned in that construction in HBHG, so the barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that that little snippet/textual similarity of the synopsis indicates that he had access to HBHG prior to Jan 2001.
DB: "that isn't logical" at which point we had an intervention from the judge:"I think it's very logical; you just don't agree with it."
DB is forced to concede that point. DB claims his "knowledge of French" led him to that conclusion -- this was not mentioned in his witness statement where he said it was WAJ.
The judge suggests to DB "your point is not a sustainable one".
A few other items come up -- HBHG evidently has a constitution of the Priory that indicates that secrets are passed from parents to children.
In the original synopsis Sophie's father is trying to pass the secret to her. This is changed later to grandfather, but the barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that HBHG's stress on the parental secret passing was the source of this initial father-daughter line-up.
A weaker point than the previous one, but perhaps indicative.
Some members of the press found it very persuasive in conversations afterwards.
They then move to a document that seems to have come 90% from the internet. It has red text for a direct internet cut&paste job of major portions of Ch 12 of HBHG.
The web page it comes from is known. There is additional commentary in black text. The barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that commentary, which summarises portions of ch 12 missing from the direct cut&paste were put in by Blythe.
DB thinks not as much of the black text has British spellings. Seems a good point for DB.
DB also says the document is too well formatted to be Blythe's work as she tended to have just typed out documents she would "never" have had something that was typeset so well.
The barrister for Baigent & Leigh indicates they have another document or two that Blythe created that she did take a great deal of care on in a virtually identical fashion. In any event, DB's copy of HBHG has many markings in ch 12 at exactly the points where text was copied/summarised in this "research document" there is also reference to "notes" in Blythe's handwriting in the margins.
This seems a bit tedious, it is not entirely clear that Blythe did the typing with UK spellings, but the clincher -- of possible great relevance is that the computer file this was all in was created in Sept 2000, a full four months before the synopsis. It again seems to demonstrate that HBHG info was in DB's possession prior to the Jan 2001 synopsis.
A small, but perhaps telling point, DB claims that much of the markings in his copy of HBHG (which far exceed the markings in any other of his 39 books) were done during a "refresher exercise" when he was on book tour and found he couldn't answer the historical questions being raised.
At that point he asked Blythe for help with the history ("I'm a fiction writer, not a historian") and she marked up HBHG extensively as part of that preparation.
The barrister for Baigent & Leigh is doubtful, he is doggedly suggesting that most, if not all, the marking up came during the writing and that reliance on HBHG demonstrates that a lot was borrowed from it. I thought a telling point was that when it came time to defend the key elements that the public were interested in, DB/BB turned to HBHG.
If anything demonstrates that the popularity of DVC is related to themes in HBHG, that reliance during the "refresher exercies" would seem to do it.
Whether it is a basis for a copyright claim under UK law is not clear.