Summary: Agent Collet drives Langdon to the Louvre. At the main entrance, he meets Captain Bezu Fache (his officers call him le Taureau, “the Bull”).
Analysis: Little happens in this chapter, but Brown does give readers the sense that they, like Langdon, are receiving a whirlwind tour of Paris. Langdon sees and reflects on notable Paris landmarks, the Eiffel Tower and the Tuileries Gardens chief among them. These passages also allow readers a glimpse into Langdon’s mind, familiarizing us with the thought processes he will use throughout the novel to untangle the many mysteries that will present themselves. We learn that Langdon is adept at summoning up multiple meanings and associations for seemingly any given image or object; as he muses to himself, “the world [is] a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events” (p. 16), and Langdon is capable of pulling on any given strand of that web at any given moment. For example, he knows the Tuileries not only as a modern botanical paradise but also as the site of ancient orgiastic rituals. Brown thus uses this brief chapter to establish Langdon as an expert in symbology: rather than simply telling us that Langdon is one, he shows us that Langdon is one.
Langdon also ruminates on the Louvre itself: not only the “monolithic Renaissance palace” itself (p. 18) but also the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei that is the museum’s main entrance. Le Pyramide did indeed cause consternation (like that expressed by Fache in the next chapter) when it was designed and built. When Pei unveiled the design in 1985, “it was the subject of controversy and international attention, derided as a violation of the museum's classical integrity. But two decades later, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Paris, attracting some 8.5 million annual visitors… Pei’s design was more about urbanism than architecture. It responded to the desperate need to integrate the museum into the fabric of the city and transform the Louvre’s main courtyard from a dismal parking lot to a grand public gathering place.” (Ken Carbone, Viva Le Louvre! At 20, I.M. Pei's Controversial Pyramid Defies Critics,” http:www.fastcompany.com/blog/ken-carbone/yes-less/viva-le-louvre-20-im-peis-controversial-pyramid-defies-critics).