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The Dante Club: Historical Mystery by…
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The Dante Club: Historical Mystery (edition 2014)

by Matthew Pearl (Author)

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6,6691501,021 (3.37)211
In 1865, the preparations of the Dante Club--led by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes--to release the first translation of Dante's "The Divine Comedy" are threatened by a series of murders that re-create episodes from "Inferno."
Member:AlanaAssimina
Title:The Dante Club: Historical Mystery
Authors:Matthew Pearl (Author)
Info:Vintage (2014)
Collections:Untitled collection
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Tags:Books on books

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The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

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Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
A complex novel, featuring several real historical figures. In fact, few of the characters are not from history.

The Dante Club did in fact exist and did in fact originally contain Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and J.T. Fields. These four emerge as the main characters here.

Holmes, Lowell, and Fields are helping Longfellow with his translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, in 1865, when a strange murder happens. Not long after, a second murder. The club members notice something familiar about the murders: they resemble scenes from Dante's Inferno. Slowly they realize that they are perhaps the only persons in Boston at that time who might be able to solve these murders.

Meanwhile, hot on the trail is Nicholas Rey, the first mulatto policeman in Boston. Not a Dante scholar, he has nevertheless enough intelligence to hone in on the Dante Club for assistance. Theirs is not an alliance, at least not at first, as the club members figure they will be taken for suspects if what they know becomes public.

Written with a great deal if insight into the time and the characters, the story is fleshed out in the slower tempo typical of the day.

A good introduction into the time after the Civil War, including details of war itself, and into the characters of Holmes, Lowell, Longfellow, and Fields.

*Spoiler*

When the perp is finally discovered, Pearl takes us on a journey of his life up to then, an attempt to explain his actions. I found the explanation complicated and hard to believe. It is almost as if the killer is strung along by puppet strings because his actions are hard to put together with his thoughts and beliefs. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I have enjoyed reading Longfellow's poetry, but never knew anything about the man. Nor did I know that he translated Dante's Inferno. Now I'll have to read it! Fascinating portrait of him, several other notable characters of the time and the post civil war era. ( )
  rodweston | Apr 23, 2020 |
Good but not great. It drags way too long in parts, but it still is enjoyable. I enjoyed [b:The Last Dickens|5588668|The Last Dickens|Matthew Pearl|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1440872878s/5588668.jpg|5760012] more but this had it's moments. One of the main things I didn't enjoy was the author trying to almost desperately talk about racism without really talking about it--and as such became more annoying rather than enlightening.

Worth the read if have some interest in the era. ( )
  Skybalon | Mar 19, 2020 |
The learning the underpins the murder mystery is impressive, and affords an intellectual lagniappe to those drawn solely to the puzzle to be solved. The murders for me echoed the gruesome symbology of Dan Brown, which seemed to fit. I learned quite a lot concerning Dante and the Divine Comedy, a work I've never gotten around to. The use of historical characters--poets all, again not my bailiwick, so I've little to compare it against--strikes me as believable. Pearl does a good job of capturing the details of post-civil war Cambridge in terms of both language and lifestyle. The chapter describing the motivations and the descent into madness of the antagonist was also credible, and appreciated because it made the rest of the novel more comprehensible. For the genre, it is difficult to imagine a better execution. ( )
  dono421846 | Jul 23, 2019 |
An almost 5-Star book (I give it 4-1/2) much to my surprise. The first 2/3 is so slow you have to fight not to bail. My impression was the author shared so many details to prove he is an expert on all things Dante, and I’m sure he is. But then wham! The mystery is complex, impossible to decipher, with many many twists and turns that are all relevant. The last 1/3 made up for the rest of the book and I loved it. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Sep 6, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Pearlprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Lino, my professor, and Ian, my teacher
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John Kurtz, the chief of the Boston police, breathed in some of his heft for a better fit between the two chambermaids.
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The proof of poetry was... that it reduced to the essence of a single line the vague philosophy that floated in all men's minds, so as to render it portable and useful, ready to the hand.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In 1865, the preparations of the Dante Club--led by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes--to release the first translation of Dante's "The Divine Comedy" are threatened by a series of murders that re-create episodes from "Inferno."

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