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Extended Audio Sample The Dante Club Audiobook, by Matthew Pearl Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.27393939393939 out of 53.27393939393939 out of 53.27393939393939 out of 53.27393939393939 out of 53.27393939393939 out of 5 3.27 (33 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Matthew Pearl Narrator: John Seidman Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2006 ISBN: 9780743563925
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In 1865 Boston, the members 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. The powerful Boston Brahmins at Harvard are fighting to keep Dante in obscurity, believing that the infiltration of foreign superstitions onto American bookshelves will prove as corrupting as the immigrants living in Boston Harbor.

As they struggle to keep their sacred literary cause alive, the plans of the Dante Club are put in further jeopardy when a serial killer unleashes his terror on the city. Only the scholars realize that the gruesome murders are modeled on the descriptions from Dante’s Inferno and its account of Hell’s torturous punishments. With the lives of the Boston elite and Dante’s literary future in America at stake, the Dante Club must find the killer before the authorities discover their secret.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and outcast police officer Nicolas Rey, the first black member of the Boston police department, place their careers on the line in their efforts to end the killing spree. Together, they discover that the source of the murders lies closer than they ever could have imagined.

The Dante Club is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction, a brilliantly realized paean to Dante, his mythic genius, and his continued grip on the imagination.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction—a heady, inventive, and immensely gifted author. With intricate plots, classical themes, and erudite characters…what’s not to love?”

    Dan Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code

  • “Ingenious…Working on a vast canvas, Mr. Pearl keeps this mystery sparkling with erudition…Pearl, with this captivating brain teaser as his debut novel, seems also to have put his life’s work on the line in melding scholarship with mystery. He does justice to both.”

    New York Times

  • “Pearl’s triumph is mixing these two cultures: wealthy, cultivated men of letters faced with the mysterious and seedy streets of a nineteenth-century Boston…creating not just a page-turner but a beguiling look at the US in an era when elites shaped the course of learning and publishing. With this story of the Dante Club’s own descent into hell, Mr. Pearl’s book will delight the Dante novice and expert alike.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A hell of a first novel…The Dante Club delivers in spades…Pearl has crafted a work that maintains interest and drips with nineteenth-century atmospherics. The real test of a book like this is whether, upon reaching the end, readers feel motivated to delve into Dante for some firsthand glimpses of the netherworld. Those who don’t weren’t paying close enough attention.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A #1 Boston Globe Bestseller
  • A #1 Washington Post bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jocena | 8/17/2016

    " Well written book. I have listened to it several times. The story holds your interest through out the book. The plot is memorizing with such detail you get drawn into the story. I love the well known intelluctual literary characters used to unravel the mystery. Not for those who have a weak stomach. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn Bedford | 2/20/2014

    " A good mistery. I had not previously realised just how unplesent some of Dante's punishments are. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marita | 2/13/2014

    " Boston 1865... gruesome book that I just could not get into. Too many main characters to get a grip of any of them. Too bad, this one had so much potential. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kay | 2/9/2014

    " Good premise. Could have been better crafted. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shelley | 2/5/2014

    " Not bad, but over written. which may be deliberately, given the setting in 19th century Brahmin Boston. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marsha | 1/25/2014

    " This is the second time I read this book. The first time, there was a little confusion keeping the characters straight in the beginning. As with many novels, few images (including who-done-it) stuck in my mind--so when our Book Club decided to do this title, I was happy to re-read it. The only image that I had remembered was the burning to death of Longfellow's wife. A brief passage, which is taken from fact, but one of the more memorable images. Reflecting on this book, the best part of it is how Pearl takes real historic figures (Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., George Washington Greene, the Webster case, etc.) and mixes them with his fiction. His descriptions of the Longfellow home (a virtual tour is available on that historic house's website) are evocative and appear accurate. IMHO, this is better than his book on Edgar Allen Poe, which uses the same technique of mixing real events and fiction. While I can object to minor points and some too-convenient coincidences, Pearl is an able storyteller and worth the read. The first chapter is not for the squeamish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 1/22/2014

    " This is a tightly-written, well-researched novel, perfect for literary enthusiasts. It presents an engrossing mystery (with a bit of horrific suspense . . . what will the next murder be like?), but also grants the reader a feeling of personal intimacy with New England's greatest 19th century poets. While there is obviously a lot of fiction in such a work, one feels that the author has been careful to include as much fact as possible. The only drawback that I felt was an occasional confusion of who was who as the literary geniuses so often came as a group. Worth re-reads even once one knows the solution to the mystery simply for its detailed presentation of 1865 Boston and her literary world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anke | 1/15/2014

    " This is quite the mystery, involving famouse poets in Boston at the turn of the century. It can be a little gruesome at times, but a very interesting plot.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kalyn Bridgewater | 12/6/2013

    " A fun trip through history with familiar characters. The story has a strong pace and keeps the reader intrigued. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dora | 11/23/2013

    " Easy read; historically pretty accurate; love what he does with the historical characters in this book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Camrose | 11/21/2013

    " A genteel story of horrific torture and murder referring to Dante's Inferno, set in Boston. Historical literary figures including Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Absolutely delicious and deeply chilling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert Schwab | 11/19/2013

    " Pearl writes historical literary mysteries, but his writing is extremely good, making for an entertaining read for those who appreciate good writing as much as, or perhaps more than action. This is his first, and I think his best. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brianne Hill | 6/13/2013

    " I couldn't get past the first 25 pages or so. It certainly wasn't what I thought it would be. Very graphic and gritty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn Calderbank | 4/30/2013

    " Murder mystery plus classical references that was nicely entwined...so much fun to be had "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Haser | 3/26/2013

    " I liked it. I heard Matt Pearl talk about it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 2/23/2013

    " The reading is a bit cumbersome at first (either from Pearl finding his flow or me getting used to it) but after that it is great literary historical fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott Mcdonald | 2/16/2013

    " Very interesting take on "detective" novel "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alondra | 1/12/2013

    " This was a really hard read and took some time to get through; at least 3 weeks! I did actually like the book; but felt like it was assigned in english class. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew Lang | 10/1/2012

    " The premise of the story was intriguing at first; however, the plot, in all of its academic intrigue, drags on and becomes quite pretentious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Enrique Arroyave | 7/6/2012

    " An interesting read about The Divine Comedy, prompted me to pull out the original cantos and read them myself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brittany | 2/24/2012

    " This book was very slow going for me at the beginning, but then it picked up about a third of the way through and I couldn't stop reading it. It's inspired me to attempt a copy of Dante's Inferno that I've had in my apartment for months. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annette | 5/24/2011

    " A little slow to get going, but a nice little mystery, and very fun to include the Dante Club (which really did exist).
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristi | 5/9/2011

    " I bit gross at times, but a stimulating read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheri | 5/1/2011

    " you didn't need to have read the inferno to like this book.loved the historical format nd has great characters "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phil | 4/28/2011

    " Inferno inspired murders, mystery thriller. Hard to get into "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Enrique | 4/26/2011

    " An interesting read about The Divine Comedy, prompted me to pull out the original cantos and read them myself. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dara | 4/24/2011

    " A little slow for my taste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 4/22/2011

    " I don't normally read historical fiction but this one might change my mind for future book. Well written with plenty of intrigue and as fast paced as a dan brown (cough) novel... Especially after about page 75 or so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linsey | 4/13/2011

    " I have to say that the preface and the first chapter was nearly enough to make me walk away. I was almost physically ill. But I found that I continued to think about the book and had to come back to it. Ultimately loved it but make sure you have a stomach of steel for the beginning. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bethanybodyhome | 4/12/2011

    " Could not get into this book. I gave it about 35 pages and had to give it up. Very disappointing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Susan | 4/11/2011

    " Started twice could not get past chapter 7. So much nothing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 linnea | 4/10/2011

    " I wish I spent the time reading Dante instead. Such bland and heavy wording, it was clunky and never captured my attention. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Therese | 4/7/2011

    " Just couldn't get into this book and never bothered to finish it. "

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About the Author
Author Matthew Pearl

Matthew Pearl is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and the editor of the Modern Library editions of Dante’s Inferno and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murder in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. The Dante Club has been published in more than thirty languages in forty countries around the world. His nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe. Pearl is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School and has taught literature at Harvard and Emerson College. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About the Narrator

John Seidman has acted both on and off-Broadway and in regional theater for thirty years. He is a founding member of Actor & Writers, a performing and producing company in Ulster County, New York.