In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses of the Dante Club are finishing America's first translation of "The Divine Comedy" and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. This is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante's continued grip on imagination, and a captivating thriller that will ...
In 1865 Boston, the literary geniuses of the Dante Club are finishing America's first translation of "The Divine Comedy" and preparing to unveil Dante's remarkable visions to the New World. This is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante's continued grip on imagination, and a captivating thriller that will surprise readers from beginning to end.
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As a lover of mysteries, Boston and Dante I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately the book starts gross, turns into a fairly interesting mystery for a while then at the point where the climax should be wanders off sideways into the horrors of war, repressed homosexuality and mental illness. Mr. Pearl is LITERARY in the worst sense of the word. Read "Devil in the White City" instead--same feel, better written, truer. If Mr. Pearl is reading this I'd love to know what he has against Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Aug 6, 2007
Interesting but maybe not enough
The Dante Club about a murderer who kills people with methods described by Dante. The book is set in the 1860's, and focuses around a group of poets. The writing style is "old" and period appropriate. I enjoyed this, but the writing style made for a somewhat difficult read. None of the characters are particularly moving or endearing. They don't seem to have a lot of depth, either. It's definitely an interesting read but you have to keep working at staying involved in the story or you might lose interest.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-03 In 1865 Boston, not many people spoke Italian. It was much more popular for people to study Latin and Greek; the classic works in these languages were common reading for students and academics. But the small circle of literati in Pearl's inventive novel is bent on translating and publishing Dante's Divine Comedy so that all Americans may learn of the writer's genius. As this group of scholars, poets, publishers and professors readies the manuscript, much more exciting doings are happening outside their circle. The Boston police are hot on the trail of a series of murders taking place around town. In one, a priest is buried alive, his feet set on fire; in another, a man's body is eaten by maggots. It doesn't take a rocket scientist-only a Dante expert-to realize these murders are based on Dante's Inferno and its account of Hell's punishments. Scholars become snoopers, and the Dante Club is soon on the scene, investigating the crimes and trying to find the killer. A tad unlikely, but it makes for a terrific story. Gaines gives an stirring performance, nimbly portraying some of the "Hah-vad" professors' "Bah-ston" accents and impressively reading the Italian passages from Dante's work. Although it's sometimes hard to differentiate between the various characters-after awhile each stuffy Bostonian begins to sound alike-Gaines nonetheless amuses and, via Pearl's historical references, educates. Simultaneous release with the Random hardcover (Forecasts, Oct. 7, 2002). (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-10-07 Talk about high concept: in Pearl's debut novel, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell team up with 19th-century publisher J.T. Fields to catch a serial killer in post-Civil War Boston. It's the fall of 1865, and Harvard University, the cradle of Bostonian intellectual life, is overrun by sanctimonious scholars who turn up their noses at European literature, confining their study to Greek and Latin. Longfellow and his iconoclastic crew decide to produce the first major American translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Their ambitious plans are put on hold when they realize that a murderer terrorizing Boston is recreating some of the most vivid scenes of chthonic torment in Dante's Inferno. Since knowledge of the epic is limited to rarefied circles in 19th-century America, the "Dante Club" decides the best way to clear their own names is to match wits with the killer. The resulting chase takes them through the corridors of Harvard, the grimy docks of Boston Harbor and the subterranean labyrinths of the metropolis. It also gives Pearl an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that he's done his history homework. The detective story is well plotted, and Pearl's recreation of the contentious world of mid-19th-century academia is engrossing, even though some of its more ambitious elements like an examination of intellectual hypocrisy and insularity in the Ivy League are somewhat clunky. There are, as well, some awkward attempts to replicate 19th-century prose ("But for Holmes the triumph of the club was its union of interests of that group of friends whom he felt most fortunate to have"). Still, this is an ambitious and often entertaining thriller that may remind readers of Caleb Carr. (Feb. 11, 2003) Forecast: Pearl, yet another multitasking law school student, is 26 years old his precociousness may spark interview interest, particularly in the Boston area. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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