Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

The Dante Club isn't a novel for someone who is easily disgusted. Even I, who have been hardened by years and years of television and computer games, thought this was unnerving. The detail in describing horrific murders is incredible, and the imagination behind it is staggering.

Horror isn't what Matthew Pearl's novel is about though. Though entirely fictional, the main characters are based on real, literary people, e.g. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The plot is heavily based in classic literature, amongst others Dante's The Divine Comedy. This novel opened my eyes to Dante's work, and even made me try reading The Divine Comedy. In fact, I will boldly claim that my interest in literature was fuelled greatly by this. The plot circles around Longfellow and his colleagues who are translating The Divine Comedy, when someone begins killing people in ways inspired by that same novel.

The Dante Club is a mystery novel, and in my opinion much better than The Poe Shadow, Pearl's second novel. I have yet to read his third, The Last Dickens. As you can tell from the titles there is a literary motif in all his novels. The Poe Shadow isn't nearly as gruesome as The Dante Club, if you're interested in reading one of Pearl's novels without all the gory details.


  1. I shall read this book as soon as I get my hands on a copy!

  2. Do it! But be warned, again, that it is very, very gory :).