Dan Brown Is Paying to Digitize a Mysticism Library

Mysticism and ancient texts play a prominent role in Dan Brown’s fiction, often prompting the Dr. House-esque epiphany that begets the novel’s triumphant conclusion. Many of these references, of course, were borrowed from reality. For the author Dan Brown, the Ritman Library (also known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica) in Amsterdam consistently provided mystical information he’d use in his novels, particularly for ancient-codes-breaking-protagonist, Robert Langdon. According to The Guardian, Brown has now committed to reciprocating the collection’s aid, in the form of 300,000 euros (~340,000 dollars).

The large donation by the bestselling author is primarily aimed at helping speed up and complete the library’s ongoing digitization project. Brown announced news of the donation in a two-minute Youtube video on The Ritman Library’s channel. Emerging from behind a rotating bookcase in his own personal library, the author lavished praise on the Dutch collection and its endeavor to expand its readership via digitization. “I consider it a great honor,” he said, “to play a role in this important preservation initiative that will make these texts available to the public.”

In addition to Brown’s donation, the Library has reported receiving nearly 17,000 dollars from the Dutch Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds — a foundation originally established in 1940 as an effort to rebuild the then-war-torn cultural life in the Netherlands.

Ritman Library Interior

The Library’s collection includes, among others: Hermetica, alchemy, mysticism, Rosicrucians and Kabbala. The near-25,000 works are split into two main categories with ~4,600 manuscripts and printed books from before 1900, and the rest being printed after the turn of the century.

Brown’s donation is certainly a noble financial decision, and it is a glimmering example of democratizing the accessibility of a rare resource. It does make you wonder though, just how many Da Vinci Code sister texts may emerge? Or if he too will digitize his own personal library and, more importantly, donate his rotating bookcase (to me)? Important questions to be considered, no doubt.

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