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The Dante Club
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Audio CD
ISBN: 074351792X
ISBN-13: 9780743517928
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: February, 2003
Length: N/A
Weight: 7.84 ounces
Dimensions: 6.04 X 4.96 X 1.03 inches
Language: English

The Dante Club

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Words Can Bleed.

In 1865 Boston, the members of the Dante Club -- poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, along with publisher J.T. Fields -- are finishing America's first translation of The Divine Comedy and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visio...
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Customer Reviews

  The Dante Club

Mattew Pearl's recent novel, the Dante Club, combines history, suspense, and mystery in a truly unique reading experience. Famous, well known characters such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Windell-Holmes and James Russell Lowe are intricately woven into a plot which develops around their translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. Their work is disrupted however, when a series of murders in Boston are modeled after mankind's punishment in hell as described in Dante's Inferno. The murder of prominent citizens modeled after their translation make them suspect.

These noted historical authors work closely with a black police officer, Nichola Ray, to prove their innocence and solve the murders.

The vivid description of Boston in 1865 and the unique literary skill of Mattew Pearl to weave the history of the civil war and racial relations into this time period is pure genius. The words used to describe the Boston street scene at this time in history are reminiscent of Caleb Carr's description of New York City in his book the Alienist.

This book is a must for any reader who enjoys historical fiction and I would strongly recommend it to them.

  Dante, Longfellow, and Lowell, Together Again

It wasn't really necessary to read Longfellow's recently re-released translation of Dante's Inferno - but I did it anyway before starting on The Dante Club. Even without the homework which proved not to be at all necessary, this new novel is a captivating, page-turner that draws you in and holds your attention. Meticulously researched, but brilliantly crafted, readers will be brought back to post-Civil War Cambridge and Boston and experience life as the great authors and publishers and common people and low lives might have done.

Historically accurate (from my perspective as a lifelong Cambridge MA history buff) and with characters true to whom they were, the novel was entertaining, stimulating, and informative. And Pearl keeps working for us until the end.

If you've ever visited Boston and Cambridge, you'll enjoy walking in the paths Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the great publishers of the era - all of whom play significant roles in the story.

I'm looking forward to the next book.

  A Literary Mystery

There are not enough mysteries with a real literary component. Matthew Pearl provides us one and we should be grateful. There are many enjoyable mysteries, but to read one that has both historical and literary ingredients is a real find. The Dante Club provides all of that and an interesting mystery as well.
I rate it right along side such other historical and literary mysteries as The Name of the Rose and The Alienist.
  Excellent Historical Recreation

This novel is a must read for those of us who love literature and the art of literary translation. I admit that I have read only a little over half the novel, not because I find it boring; quite the opposite: I find it too wonderful to want to finish it in haste. Slowly, slowly I read with exquisite pleasure -- quite the opposite of those in Dante's hell who suffer exquisitely forever -- or at least a long time.

The novel is set in post Civil War Boston. Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell and their publisher are the "private" detectives as well as the most prominent members of the Dante Club, a club dedicated to translating Dante into English. In a kind of Borgesian world where fact and fiction overlap, the detectives are challenged by a serial murderer who has decided to translate Dante's Inferno into a horrific reality.

Who is this murderer and how far will he succeed in translating Boston into Dante's inferno? You and I will have to continue reading to find out.

  A "Devine" Thriller

Every few years a book is written that breaks the mold of the standard mystery/thriller fare. Umberto Eco's "Name of the Rose", Martin Cruz Smith's "Rose", more recently Boston Teran's "God is a Bullet", to name a few. "The Dante Club", the remarkable debut of writer Matthew Pearl, is another example that represents a bold, ambitious, and refreshing approach to the familiar serial killer "who-dunnit".

I'll admit that at first I was somewhat leery of the concept: the Fireside Poets - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell cast as investigators of a string of horrific murders? An ambitious premise for a novel, for sure, but more aptly, bizarre and ripe with risk. Pearl, however, pulls this off with a curious combination of the poet's love of the language and the storyteller's knack for pace and action.

The "Dante Club" refers to the group assembled by Longfellow - including Holmes and Lowell - to assist him in the first American translation of Dante's "Devine Comedy". As people in high places - a judge, a minister, a wealthy merchant - turn up tortured and murdered in scenes recreating those described in Dante's classic, the poets hit the streets of Boston and Cambridge in search of the killer. The result is an exceptionally well-researched book that is rich in historical detail while capturing the post-Civil War American psyche and culture. Pearl's description of the Civil War horrors and post-war trama is especially gripping. Not since "Silence of the Lambs" or "Se7en" have murders been so brutally and vividly portrayed, as the victims are variously eaten-alive by maggots, buried upside-down and set on fire, and (literally) cut in half. Yet despite the graphic butchery, this is a book that must not be rushed, but savored for the intricacy of the plot and the intensity of the prose. It is the rare book that draws the reader to revisit the poetry of Longfellow, US history in the wake of the Civil War, and the mystery of Dante in 19th century America. In summary, a stunning first novel from a writer destined to become a household name. Don't miss it!