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The Dante Club
Release Date: February, 2003
Publisher: Random House
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 visions to the New World. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions onto American bookshelves will prove as corrupting as the immigrants living in Boston Harbor. As they struggle to keep their sacred literary cause alive, the plans of the Dante Club are put in further jeopardy when a serial killer unleashes his terror on the city. Only the scholars realize that the gruesome murders are modeled on the descriptions from Dante's Inferno and its account of Hell's torturous punishments. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante's literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and outcast police officer Nicolas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, place their careers on the line in their efforts to end the killing spree. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer than they ever could have imagined. The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante, his mythic genius, and his continued grip on the imagination.
||1.3 x 6.6 x 9.2 in.
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Dante, Longfellow, and Lowell, Together Again
Posted by Glenn Koocher on 5/5/2003
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.
Posted by M. Caballero on 9/6/2005
Para ser la primera novela de este joven autor, El Club Dante es un triller entretenido que mantiene al lector en suspenso de principio a fin. Excelente su estilo narrativo con detalles explicitos que nos transporta a los mas bajos pecados del Boston del Siglo 19...
Excellent Historical Recreation
Posted by W. L. Godshalk on 4/8/2003
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.
Posted by Richard E. Matthews on 4/12/2003
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.