Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jose Rodrigues dos Santos: Codex 632

Matthew Narby reviews José Rodrigues dos Santos' Codex 632: The Secret Identity of Christopher Columbus.
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code spawned an entire genre of fiction in which a hero searches the globe for a vital but lost historical object. José Dos Santos’s Codex 632 fits into this pattern.

Its main protagonist is Thomas Noronha, a middle-aged history professor at the New University in Lisbon, Portugal. An expert in classical languages and cryptography, Thomas is hired by the mysterious Americas History Institute to continue the research of the recently deceased history Prof. Toscano. The institute is funded by Italians from Genoa, the traditional home of Christopher Columbus.

Thomas first flies to New York to meet with the institute and is then sent on a whirlwind tour of Brazil, Portugal and Jerusalem. In the course of his research, Thomas discovers that Toscano had strayed from the original intention of the institute, which was to have him pinpoint the exact day of the Portuguese discovery of Brazil. Toscano instead spent most of his time (and the institute’s money) searching for the true identity of Columbus.

Dos Santos’s narrative is presented in question-and-answer format with little action or plot. The work functions as a vehicle to present Thomas’s exhaustive research on Columbus.
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