Michael Wood

Jeux d’esprit

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail

By

 Jonathan Cape 480pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Someone was obviously producing this material, but their real object remained unclear. At times we nearly dismissed the whole affair as an elaborate joke, a hoax of extravagant proportions. If this were true, however … and if one invests so much time, energy and resources in a hoax, can it really be called a hoax at all? In fact the interlocking skeins and the overall fabric were less a joke than a work of art – a display of ingenuity, suspense, brilliance, intricacy, historical knowledge and architectonic complexity worthy of, say, James Joyce.

So the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail sum up the arcane ‘documents’ out of which they spin the tale of ‘the single most shattering secret of the last two thousand years.’ The secret is, briefly, that Christ escaped the cross, married Mary Magdalene and had children whose decendants have maintained his ‘blood royal’ across the intervening centuries. In the Dark Ages they married into the Merovingian royal family. In the thirteenth century they were protected by the Cathars. Now, it is alleged, they constitute a powerful secret society to which the great temporal lords of our day still pay respect. The Second Coming, in short, will be the presentation of Jesus’ lineal heir.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,