Thursday 26 October 2023

From The Da Vinci Code to 1984

 One of the books most frequently dumped on charity shops in recent years was Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (though it was surely outdumped for a while by Fifty Shades of Grey). At one point the Da Vinci glut reached such a pitch that an Oxfam shop in Swansea displayed a pile of the unwanted title in its window with a notice pleading with donors to please donate something, anything else, preferable vinyl. That was back in 2017, and things have changed since then – now the most dumped books, at least in Swansea, are Richard Osman's cosy murder mysteries – but one David Shrigley, described as an artist, has belatedly done his bit to clear the Da Vinci Code mountain. Having searched out and bought some six thousand dumped copies  – mostly from a vast Oxfordshire warehouse where the most comprehensively unwanted books go to die – he has spent 'a six-figure sum' pulping them and republishing them as an eye-wateringly expensive limited edition of a very different book, George Orwell's 1984, some of the proceeds of which will go to Oxfam. 'It's not literary criticism, ' he declares accurately, though he does regard 1984 as 'a really important book for people to read'.  So, if you've got £495 burning a hole in your pocket, head for that Swansea Oxfam and pick up one of Shrigley's 1984s. Tragically, it might even be a sound investment, the 'art' market being what it is these days – and at least you'd end up with a book to read. 
The BBC News website covers this story in its usual exhaustive manner. It's good to learn that Shrigley has not actually read The Da Vinci Code (perhaps he's a man of taste and discernment after all) and that, when approached for a quote, Dan Brown was 'in transit'. 

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