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The Dante Club

(The Dante Club #1)

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  37,796 ratings  ·  2,521 reviews
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.

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, a
Mass Market Paperback, 424 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 2003)
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Amruta i would say a little but then the entire experience of the book was great

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Average rating 3.40  · 
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Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Save yourself some time and read Dante's "Inferno" instead. ...more
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
Aug 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 03, 2009 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
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
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2008 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,
Davie Bennett
Jan 18, 2008 rated it liked it
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
This is my third attempt to finish this. I kept getting pulled away from it and as it was so complicated, I could not just pick up where I left off. So, had to go back to the beginning.

The setting is post-Civil War Boston. Popular 19th Century writers, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Lowell, along with their publisher, Henry Fielding, are translating Dante's Inferno into English. At the same time, murders start occurring which mimic the punishments from the descending
The Dante Club is a good historical mystery written by Matthew Pearl.

In 1865, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with the help of few other literary giants is at the task of translating Dante's Divine Comedy. Resistance arises from many corners to stop the "foreign literature" becoming part of the American literary culture. Then the crimes happen. The methods employed in the killings resemble the punishments described in Dante’s Inferno. Is this another attempt to discredit the efforts of the Longfello
Feb 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Oh boy, what to say about this book. I was looking on 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
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Combining a host of literary figures with a well known literary work such as Dante’s Comedy, and a murder mystery, seems like a sure shot way to entertain, educate and enlighten via the novel. Also a guarantee of best-seller status.

Matthew Pearl has hit on this formula and his first three books cover Dante, Poe and Dickens mixed in with the dark shadows of a whodunit in each. In The Dante Club, his debut, we are introduced to literary luminaries such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wen
I don't know why I've even read this book. What I expected ?
Well, let's count: Dante, it's obvious. And some 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. To paraphrase Poe boredom there and nothing more . Agreed, only Boston emerged unscathed from it. I'd better re-read Divine Comedy instead of this rubbish. I read somewhere about similarit
Arun Divakar
Aug 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not a long book, but it often felt that way. Verbose, densely-written, with constant references to the state of literature - and publishing - in Boston just after the end of the Civil War. It really helps if the reader has some knowledge of the history, location, and the social and political complexities of the time. Seriously, it often assumed we all know who Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes and a few others are. Now I do know, but I still mixed th ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction

I would call Matthew Pearl's style the fictional counterpart to "historian" Erik Larson's. I put historian in quotes because much of what Larson writes is either made up, or written in such a novelized way as to seem preposterous to people who actually read history books. Both writers pad their tomes with layers of bloat. The plots move forward, but only in slow motion, because they are dragging so much unnecessary ballast. I was on p. 125 or so of Pearl's novel before I started to feel like the
I've had a couple of Matthew Pearl's historical mysteries on my book shelf for awhile now. I'm glad that I finally dusted off The Dante Club and read it. In some ways it reminded me of Caleb Carr's The Alienist.

The book is set in the mid 1800's. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a select group of friends, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russel Lowell and J.T. Fields get together once a week to translate Dante's Inferno into English. This is not popular with the corporation that runs Harvard Universit
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Historical mystery set in 19th century Boston. A series of gruesome murders inspired by the punishments in Dante's Inferno is terrifying the people of Boston. Meanwhile the poets Longfellow and Lowell are fighting a battle against the governing body of Harvard who are resisting their attempts to bring Dante to the attention of Americans. The two poets, plus Oliver Wendell Holmes and publisher JT Fields, apply their literary skills to solving the murders and tracking down the killer.

Interesting m
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Ryan Marquardt
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
May 07, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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. ...more
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 13, 2007 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
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the best thrillers I have ever read. 4.0 stars. Already read 'Last Dickens', can't wait to read 'Poe Shadow'. ...more
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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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A Million More Pages: The Dante Club: May 1 14 31 May 05, 2015 07:07AM  
Into the Inferno 9 82 Aug 07, 2014 11:45AM  
IR 2 37 Dec 04, 2011 04:35PM  

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Note from the author:Hi everyone. My newest novel is The Dante Chamber, out May 29, 2018. It's a follow-up to my debut novel, The Dante Club, but you do not have to read one before the other, each stands on its own two feet. Hope you'll enjoy any of books you choose to pick up.

Matthew Pearl's novels have been international and New York Times bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His

Other books in the series

The Dante Club (2 books)
  • The Dante Chamber (The Dante Club #2)

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