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The Dante Club

by
3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  32,629 Ratings  ·  2,128 Reviews
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.
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Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (first published 2003)
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ab Probably at around page 100/ 102. The thing about using cultural and literature history sometimes, if one is not familiarised with it, it'll prove to…moreProbably at around page 100/ 102. The thing about using cultural and literature history sometimes, if one is not familiarised with it, it'll prove to be difficult to get used to something filled with so much of it. It has taken me quite long, almost a decade since I first bought this novel because when I started to read it couldn't help but to feel in extreme disadvantage to a point of feeling uncomfortable reading it, as if I was a poser pretending to know who these historical figures are, knowing Dante's work is not enough in order to feel any kind of satisfaction, for me, while reading this novel. Now I feel confident enough to respect and somewhat understand why the "characters" are the way they are, that's the beauty of reading.(less)
Amruta i would say a little but then the entire experience of the book was great
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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lindsay
Dec 06, 2007 lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel is the reason you should never buy a book just because the cover says it's a New York Times Bestseller. It's a badly-constructed murder mystery set in Boston, in which a group of famous poets bands together to stop a series of murders inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy -- think Da Vinci Code, but with elderly characters who have an overdeveloped sense of self-importance and who aren't even terribly likable. The story also jumps back and forth through time without any warning, making it ...more
Rebecca
This marvelous book is a superlative example of numerous genres: historical fiction and mystery being two examples. While the premise of engaging famous historical figures in a mystery is intriguing, Pearl never allows this element to drive the narrative. His characterizations of Longfellow, Holmes and Lowell are so brilliant, the reader forgets that they are icons of literary history, and views them as intense and vivacious fictional characters.
This is not beach-reading, but instead an intelle
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Lis
Sep 02, 2008 Lis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
This author sure does name drop: "Dante", "Harvard", etc. Granted, I read this book because of that Dante name drop, even though I don't really like murder mystery type novels. (Consider that my disclaimer.) It's an attempt at an intelligent book that, despite the author's bio, I just don't feel quite accomplishes that. It deals entirely with the Inferno and nothing past that. The time period allowed for horse dysentry to cause a transportation meltdown and little girls to exclaim "oh, poppa!" ( ...more
John
Feb 23, 2008 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Save yourself some time and read Dante's "Inferno" instead.
Miriam
May 04, 2010 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dante buffs
Shelves: mystery
Pearl is a good writer and the theme is engrossing for those familiar with Dante's magnum opus. However, the author's smug tone and obvious conviction of his own brilliance married my enjoyment of what could have been a perfectly acceptable literary mystery. I could also have done without the cheap-horror graphics of victims being eaten by insects etc regarding the various colorful murders, but I suppose Pearl was trying to convey some of the feeling of revulsion invoked by the torments describe ...more
Janet
Feb 23, 2008 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was at a show (as in indie rock, guitar and drums and beer) in a faraway city [this did not happen in Seattle, although you would expect it to, since this town is so flippin' small], it was past midnight, I think it was the 8th or 9th band we had seen that day, and a person who had joined our group, who I had never met before, was wearing a tee shirt that said "So many books, Not enough time" or something like that, and we were waiting for the band to start so I said, so, what book are your re ...more
Selena
Nov 05, 2008 Selena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thebest
The Dante Club is a wonderful debut novel from Matthew Pearl. It is the story of the Fireside Poets - Henry Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell - who initially form the Dante Club to assist Longfellow in finishing the first American translation of Dante Alighieri's Commedia Divina.

The book starts off with the gruesome murder of Judge Healy, probably the most intense beginning to any book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The reader finds Healy left out in his own back yard,
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Maggie
LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! I have to be honest, since I teach high school English and cover and teach the classics day in and day out, my at-home reading pursuits are typically of the "get lost in an easy read" variety. I picked this book up at a garage sale for $1.. the best buck I ever spent! The book is definitely a little more "high brow" in the context of the literary scene and some of the language and took me about 60 pages to really get into it, but then I was hooked completely. The mur ...more
Joanna
Feb 24, 2008 Joanna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh boy, what to say about this book. I was looking on Amazon.com and it came up in my 'recommended for you' section. I clicked on it and found the summary to be interesting as well as the comments of those who already read the book. I borrowed it from a friend and absolutely could not get into it. Some parts were ok, but they were overwhelmed by parts that were not. I struggled through the first half of the book and found the plot to be moving slower than molasses. At that point I decided to onl ...more
Davie Bennett
A cool premise mired in humdrumery and bludgemongering. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and their publisher J.T. Fields comprise the Dante Club, a group of Harvard scholars who are attempting to birth the first American translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. As they near completion of their work, a serial killer is on the loose in Boston, copying scenes from the Inferno into grisly murders of some of the city's most notable citizens. The Dante Club, the ...more
Agnieszka
I don't know why I've read this book. What I expected ?
Well,let's count : Dante , it's obvious.And great american poets solving mystery crimes in Boston .Oh,and 19th-century Boston itself.
Sounds good ,isn't it ?Such a good topic and what ? Nothing.Boredom , overwhelming boredom and some disgust.Nothing more.Agreed,only Boston emerged unscathed from it.I'd better re-read Divine Comedy instead of this rubbish .
I read somewhere about similarity to Eco's The name of the rose. Kidding !
I'm afraid to
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Elise
Dec 21, 2013 Elise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sucked
I wish I had spent my time reading Dante's "Inferno" rather than wasting my precious hours on "The Dante Club." I usually give a book 50 pages and if it doesn't grab me by then, I stop reading it. In spite of the fact that this one failed my 50 page test miserably, I was determined to finish it because it was a book club pick, so I forced myself to read one chapter every day--a grueling chore from beginning to end.

Matthew Pearl writes what is part murder mystery and part historical fiction abou
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Olga
May 14, 2011 Olga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
It is 1865 and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow works on finishing his translation of Dante Alleghieri's Divine Comedy with the help of four of his friends, some of New Endland's brightest literary stars, when Boston becomes the scene of the most gruesome murders they've ever heard of. The police are baffled and only the members of the Dante Club know that the killer has taken a few pages out of the Divine Comedy itself and it is up to them to stop him.

"John Kurtz, the chief of the Boston police, brea
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Arun Divakar
Sep 04, 2010 Arun Divakar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a very self centered principle, I despise coffee that is not too strong or gone cold for it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This book gave me similar feelings. Built on a foundation of Boston in the 1850's, the lushly fertile literary backdrop of Harvard, historical figures of the like of Emerson, Henry Longfellow, Dante's Divine Comedy that develops into a string of murders....but all this combined brings a very dull thriller to the reading table.

The author tries dropping a lot of heavy name
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Ryan Marquardt
When my friend was describing the book to me and read one of the quotes about the book on the cover, I asked, "Who gave that review? Dan Brown?" Yup.

It's a lot like the Da Vinci Code. A pretty good crime novel with some interesting historical and literary info tossed in, but overall you can sort of check out when you're reading it. The historical fiction aspect of it is an interesting twist. And the murder descriptions are grisly enough to give the plot some momentum. I wasn't able to predict th
...more
Megan
Jan 26, 2015 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a murder mystery that takes place in Boston just after the Civil War. The murders revolve around Dante's Inferno, and a group of Dante scholars are the only people who may be able to find the killer. For a while I couldn't figure out why I wasn't really into the novel, and by the end, it finally dawned on me: Pearl doesn't want you to figure out who the killer is until it's time, but in doing so, the mystery loses it's appeal. To me, a good mystery hints at the answer, often times leadin ...more
Grant
this is a mystery. good mysteries leave clues that the reader may or may not pick up on. but the clues lead logically to the killer. this is not a good mystery. the investigation takes wild jumps from one clue to the next. and such clues don't narrow down who the likely culprit is. the main characters are historical figures: longfellow, james lowell, oliver wendall holmes sr. they have formed a club to help longfellow translate dante's divine comedy. though some in the city believe his work to b ...more
Monique
So a major fan of literature, murder and mystery should love this book right? Well thats what I thought too but I struggled with this one and couldnt wait to finish it..Its not that the book isnt great or doesnt have potential it is just too verbose and tedious..The book has alot of words and descriptive passages and flashbacks that take away from the fast paced murder mystery aspect and it makes the book drag. On a happier note or perhaps a more morbid one there are some gruesome and well detai ...more
Shaina
Jun 06, 2007 Shaina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, it took me two tries, but I finally managed to get past the disgusting maggots at the beginning. Note: do not read this book while eating.

I found this book to be quite interesting and full of incredibly vivid descriptions that I would have called beautiful if the subject matter had been different. As it was, I found myself dreaming about Civil War amputations the night after I finished the book. And yet, I wasn't particularly moved by the story. It felt like it was attempting to be deep ab
...more
Ben De Bono
The Dante Club is an absolutely wonderful book that has the misfortune of being centered on a fairly generic thriller. On the surface, the main plot is quite intriguing: a serial killer in 19th century Boston is using punishments from the Inferno on his victims. Unfortunately, while some of the clues and twists are interesting, the solution is rather dull and cliched.

The much better part of the novel centers on Longfellow's translation of the Commedia. Anytime the novel focuses on literary disc
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Jessica
An interesting literary thriller.
The main characters in this are the great 19th century 'Fireside Poets', namely Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Olver Wendell Holmes, and three other lesser-known men (James Russell Lowe, George Washington Greene, and JT Fields, their publisher). They are preparing to publish the first American edition of Dante's Divine Comedy. This is controversial--almost no one in American is interested in the study of the Italian language, first of all, and also, Dante's work is
...more
Febry
Sep 30, 2007 Febry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone (except for kids under 15 years old, i think)
The book reached number 1 on Border's, Washington Post, and Boston Globe best seller lists, and also New York Times Best Seller List. The genre is fictional mystery.


This book has a strong relation with Dante's DIVINA COMEDIA (Divine Comedy).

You don't have to read the Divine Comedy first in order to understand this novel. But if you do already read Divine Comedy, it's very good, because you can have deep understanding about what is DANTE all about.

This novel is about a killer that doing his/her (
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Candice
Jun 15, 2007 Candice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
I really liked this book . . . up until the closing chapters. I've read some other reviews on here, and, unlike most, I had no trouble getting through the first third of the book. I thought Pearl set up a great mystery . . . but when it came time to solve it, it seemed like he was in a hurry, and things got wrapped up rather neatly in a fashion that did not seem congruent with the rest of the book. That said, I certainly liked the premise, style of writing, and historical and literary subtleties ...more
Lisa Greer
This is an American lit. lover's dream and it's even better for fans of Dante and his harrowing imaginings of hell, purgatory, etc. I am enjoying reading about the history of Harvard and its printing press during the 1860s. Oliver Wendell Holmes and his son make an appearance as well as other literary stars like Longfellow. This book is immensely enjoyable so far, and the characters feel real as does the story.

Okay, I don't know what happened, but I am no longer "feeling" this book. I am going t
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Debra
Nov 26, 2011 Debra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I really wanted to love this book, as the premise is awesome. I enjoyed the historical fiction, the stuff about Dante, the gruesome stuff about the screwworm, and the mystery. The author jumped between past and present and at times this was confusing. There were many pages just talking about the characters and the plot loses its momentum in those places. This book had the potential to be a 5-star book, and for a first book by this author, I think he did very well. If it weren't for the fits and ...more
Stacy Green
Not going to star this book because I couldn't finish it. I'm sure the mystery is great once the mystery gets going, but the author spends a lot of time on the set up of the poets, and I couldn't get into it. Hoping to go back and try again some time.
RebeccaS
Jul 20, 2016 RebeccaS rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
I just couldn't get into this one. I loved the premise, dante, literature, mystery, HF, all the makings of a favorite. However, I didn't love the writing or the characters. It honestly took me most of the book to even keep all the men straight. There was so much talking (and randomly jumping to other characters) and not enough action for me. I will say I had no idea who the culprit was and was very surprised when we found it (50% because I didn't see it coming and 50% because I didn't realize th ...more
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
There's much to like about The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl's homage to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J. T. Fields--some of the greatest American poets of the 19th century. It is a historical thriller written with a taste of the literary, and The Dante Club has moments of chilling baroque mystery interspersed by pages of literary history told in the dialogue. It makes for a novel that feels serious, almost enough to threaten to dampen the tension of a ...more
Sam
Aug 17, 2012 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actually Matthew Pearl's first novel and while it doesn't flow quite as well as the Poe Shadow (that might be at least partly due to me not knowing much Dante though) it is still a superb read. Pearl has managed to recreate the era through his descriptive and detailed prose and his brilliantly written characters who seem to have been taken straight from the pages of the history books (which in fact they are). Pearl also manages to portray the Dante Club's passion and slight obsession wit ...more
Sarah
Jan 24, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Matthew Pearl is the author of the novels The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, The Last Dickens, The Technologists, and The Last Bookaneer. His books have been New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Slate.com. He has been heard on shows incl ...more
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“Shakespeare brings us to know ourselves. Dante, with his dissection of all others, bids us to know one another.” 19 likes
“He was outwardly calm but inwardly bleeding to death.” 13 likes
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