The Dante Club
Though only a packerback this novel displays an elaborate layout. And we are told that Matthew Pearl is a renowned Harvard scholar and won a prize for his work on Dante, so this story may be a byproduct of his scholarly career, like “The Alchimist” by Martha Collins.
Maybe making use of your academic achievements in more than one way is good old American academic tradition but this novel is a little hard to digest, at least for the unsuspecting reader. Iīm sure Pearlīs Harvard colleagues appreciate all the hints and allusions to present day staff and procedures at the department of literature, for the above mentioned reader itīs just clumsy and pretentious and only shere stubbornness makes her plod on.
The story is set in Boston in 1865. The famous poet Longfellow and some other poets of the time, amongst them a Holmes, translate Danteīs “Divina Commedia” into English, although the university establishment tries to prevent this decadent Catholic author from tainting righteous American beliefs of the time.
Of course, all that is only a pretense to introduce the most cruel, repulsive murders possible. And, of course, itīs the members of the Dante Club, who finally find the murderer with the help of their exclusive knowledge of Danteīs Divine Comedy. Not very comic, really.