The study of literary texts has always been one of the main aims of philology. Scholars kept trying to explain the specific effect such texts produce,
1) singling out the linguistic devices the author of the text employs,
2) concentrating on the thematic and structural features of it and discussing the turns of the plot and the possible literary influences the author of the text could have experienced, or
3) taking into account simultanesouly the thematic and stylistic peculiarities of a text in order to understand it in its entirety (that is, working along the lines of linguopoetics [11; 12; 14; 28; 29; 30] -- a branch of philological studies aimed at assessing the role and function of stylistically marked linguistic elements in used in an artistic texts for rendering its imaginative content and for producing aesthetic effect).
In all the three cases just specified comparison as a universal method of any investigation [26; 31] is implicitly or explicitly there. Only when speaking about the plot and the structure of a text the scholar may do without any allusions to the previously created written matter; even stylistic analysis pure and simple defies the "rediscovery" of the devices known since antiquity [13; etc.], while placing the text within the existing literary tradition is simply unthinkable if a scholar does not explicitly compare it with the works constituting the said tradition .
When one carries out the thematic and stylistic analysis of a text simultaneously, comparison becomes indispensable for a slightly different reason. True, it is possible to rely merely on the lists of devices suggested by Aristotle and his numerous followers and to describe the content as such, but as in this more delicate kind of analysis one is expected to assess the relative significance of linguistic elements for rendering a certain kind of plot, there always remains a danger of overlooking something and of overestimating something else. Hence the analysis initially conceived of a as means of achieving a better understanding of a text may result in complete subjectivity and would in no way contribute to creating a comprehensive commentary to a text.
In contrast to the situations when scholars discuss the history of ideas the way they are reflected in the content of a text and when they may disregard the genre and the stylistic affinity of the texts under comparison, linguopoetic analysis presupposes a more careful and subtle choice of texts to be confronted . For the confrontation to be at all successful one must make sure that there exists a considerable thematic and stylistic similarity between the texts , because otherwise what the investigation would finally bring one to would be no more than a very approximate list of disarranged features found in one text and most conspicuously absent in the other. The proverbial subjectivity of philological papers containing a fair amount of value judgements in this case will obviously be there, and the scholar will make himself an easy target for the critical remarks of those who insist on barring axiology from literary investigations at all costs .
To cope with the above-mentioned problems members of the English Department of the Philological Faculty of the Moscow State University have long and successfully been trying to elaborate methods of philological investigations allowing one to carry out the research with the minimal subjectivity and with the optimal results [12; 27; 46; etc.]. Their joint contribution has been described and further amplified in the third part of the doctoral thesis by the author of the present paper  where linguopoetic confrontation as a special method of philological research is described. This kind of confrontation is aimed at a better understanding of the aesthetic peculiarities of the confronted texts and should be applied to texts bearing considerable stylistic and thematic affinity to each other. The texts under comparison may be totally independent from each other, though some of them could have been written much earlier than the others (hence the two variants of confrontation -- in diachrony  and in synchrony [15; 16]), or one of these texts should definitely be treated as "primary" while other texts used for the comparison fall under the category of "secondary" ones [4; 5; 6; etc.], these latter including translation, adaptation and parody.
When linguopoetic confrontation is based on primary and secondary texts, it is only in the case of translations that we may seriously consider the aesthetic potential of the secondary text . Adaptation and parody are of interest only in so much as they allow one to go deeper into the peculiarities of the primary text, their own aesthetic merits being somewhat dubious, to say the least of it . The text of the parody may be amusing, but still there is a great likelihood that it will look absurd, however talented its author may be, if the reader does not have a preliminary knowledge of the original text. But for all its obvious limitations, this kind of confrontation is quite productive, because it gives one a fairly clear idea of what the artistically significant sides of the primary text are.
In this paper we would like to concentrate on the confrontation of
1) the now very popular novel "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown  first published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction and by May 2006 translated into 44 languages and having more than 60 million copies in print (elsewhere in the paper it is referred to as DVC) and the two parodies of it both published in 2005 --
2) "The Asti Spumante Code" by Toby Clements [34; ASC] and
3) "The Va Dinci Cod" by A.R.R.R.Roberts [42; VDC].
In the title of the work we have deliberately avoided using the term "linguopoetic confrontation", for it would imply the unnecessary debate concerning the aesthetic value of the primary text at least and provoke an even more intricate discussion about the limitations of linguopoetics and it being appropriate to apply the term to the analysis of a text of this kind [12; 14; 18]. If the paper had been devoted to the elucidation of these points, it would have been impossible to ignore the issue, but the aim of the present investigation is different. What we are striving for is to show how confronting parodies with the source text may help the reader to have a better idea of the original, its advantages and drawbacks alike. "The Da Vinci Code" being so incredibly popular, it is only natural for a philologist to try and specify the more significant thematic and stylistic features of the primary text by Dan Brown and to give a tentative explanation of why it was received with such an enthusiasm by the reading public; to achieve this, using the secondary texts mentioned may be of great help. It should be noted specially and emphatically that in a linguistic paper like this considering the thematic properties of a text is not something self-sufficient and that style itself is not treated as something subservient; rather the reverse: style here is understood very broadly, not merely as a sum total of the metasemiotically significant elements of the text, but as a way of rendering a particular kind of content including the alternation and interconnection of narrative types within the text. The thematic side of the texts will be taken into account only in so long as it helps to reveal the linguistic specificity of the narration, and not for its own sake.
In the subsequent parts of the paper we are going to
1) give the general description of the texts under comparison,
2) speak about the thematic and stylistic features of the three texts, comparing the primary one with each of the two parodies and then, hopefully,
3) arrive at certain conclusions concerning the nature of the popularity of Dan Brown's novel.
As both "The Asti Spumante Code" and "The Va Dinci Cod" are detective novels in which action is developed against a certain historical background (real or imaginative) and as both of them reproduce the stylistic features of the primary text, there is absolutely no need for us to go deeper into the history or theory of parody here -- a question that has been most thoroughly studied in a number of philological papers [2; 3; 7; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 37; 38; etc.] -- and to explain the subtle distinction between stylization, periphrasis and parody proper [5; 6]. The authors of both secondary texts do not merely use some features of Dan Brown's style to create an independent artistic text (stylization) or to apply them to the description of reality usually shown with the help of some other linguistic means (periphrasis); the two secondary texts are definitely "about" Dan Brown's novel, they are based on it both stylistically and thematically, hence they may be treated as parodies proper [5; 6] and used within the type of confrontation we have discussed above.
The book, very naturally, is meant for all those interested in matters of style and parody in general, and in Dan Brown's novel and the parodies of it in particular, but apart from this it will hopefully have a more specific application. Students of stylistics are too often provided with manuals giving them ample theoretical information and a relatively meagre practical demonstration of how the theoretical postulates may be used in the analysis of concrete texts. In the present manual we deliberately tried to reduce as far as possible the volume of theory offered and further on to turn entirely to the analysis of protracted literary works. We hope that the present paper will not be completely useless to the students of English who want to master the elements of stylistically and thematically (linguopoetically) oriented research.
Липгарт Андрей Александрович
Доктор филологических наук, профессор кафедры английского языкознания филологического факультета МГУ имени М. В. Ломоносова. Автор более 100 печатных работ по проблемам языковедческой теории, функциональной стилистики, лингвопоэтики, преподавания иностранных языков, истории английского языка и литературы. Среди них: «Лингвопоэтическое сопоставление: теория и метод», «Методы лингвопоэтического исследования», «Основы лингвопоэтики» (М.: URSS), «Parody and Style» (М.: URSS), «Ольга Сергеевна Ахманова: Очерк жизни и научного творчества» (М.: URSS).
Andrey Alexandrovich LIPGART
Doctor of Philology (1996), Professor of the Department of English Linguistics, Philological Faculty, Moscow State Lomonosov University (1998).
The author of over 90 papers on the general theory of linguistics, on functional stylistics, linguopoetics and foreign language teaching: «Linguopoetic Confrontation: Theory and Method» (1994), «Methods of Linguo-poetic Investigation» (1997), «The Foundations of Linguopoetics» (URSS, 2006). Among his recently published papers the more significant ones are those devoted to studying Shakespeare's creative work (the articles «Concerning the Interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnets» (2004), «“The Shakespeare Problem”, the Shakespeare Canon and the Style of Shakespeare» (2005) and others).