The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

The Dante Club

By Matthew Pearl

  • Publication Date: 2003-02-04
  • Genre: Historical
4 Score: 4 (From 23 Ratings)

Book Synopsis

A New York Times Bestseller
Words can bleed.

In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses 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 College are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions into American minds will prove as corrupting as the immigrants arriving at Boston Harbor.

The members of the Dante Club fight to keep a sacred literary cause alive, but their plans fall apart when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge. Only this small group of scholars realizes that the gruesome killings are modeled on the descriptions of Hell’s punishments from Dante’s Inferno. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante’s literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club members must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and an outcast police officer named Nicholas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, must place their careers on the line to end the terror. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer to home than they ever could have imagined.

The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante’s continued grip on our imagination, and a captivating thriller that will surprise readers from beginning to end.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Latest User Reviews

  • Hist/Myst & Lit/Myst

    By Fpiano
    If you like mysteries with literary characters and a lot of authentic historical background, read this book. Since Longfellow & Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and James Russell Lowell are pretty much neglected I didn't know a lot about their lives and friends. Boston and New England were very important in arts and letters in early USA & through the time period which this book depicts. Another reviewer suggests reading Dante's Inferno before reading this book. I agree completely. Ironically, I tried the Longfellow translation of Dante (critical part of this mystery) first and found it very hard going. Dante's famous rhyming pattern is tortuous in the English language. I went back to the translation I read in college (John Chiardi) and was much happier.
  • Amazing!

    By Courtney Landgraff
    Thrilling! An absolute great read.
  • Surprisingly fantastic

    By Bill_Slane
    Had to read this for an English class last summer and had to download it here to read it again. This was the most surprisingly great book I've read. I would suggest reading The Inferno, if not all of The Divine Comedy, before reading though; there is a ton of Dante references so not being somewhat familiar with his Divine Comedy would hinder your experience with this novel.