is the perfect book club novel." -- Ann
LaFarge, Voice Ledger (NY)
Club news! The
Atlanta Journal- Constitutional article
"What We're Reading" profile of Altanta book
club the QQs mentions THE DANTE CLUB as one of
the unanimous favorites. (15 June 2008)
Seattle Times article
"Camaraderie, books: They make a club" profile of
Seattle book clubs mentions THE DANTE CLUB as a
favorite. (3/18/2006) Publishers
Weekly profiles books, including THE DANTE
CLUB, that are popular with reading groups and
book clubs. (5/23/2005) The
Baltimore Sun profiles a book club and
discusses their reading of THE DANTE CLUB.
available to be a part of your book club!
you’re interested in arranging to have Matthew
Pearl be a part of your book club meeting via
here. The Harrisburg Patriot-News
profiled Matthew Pearl's participation over
speakerphone with a Pennsylvania book club
in an article from 5/8/03.
a great outing for New England area clubs, you
can tour the Longfellow
National Historic Site in Cambridge, MA.
Matthew Pearl's tour of the Longfellow National
Historic Site for a local book club is profiled
this article in The Sun Chronicle
(New England). (November 5, 07)
has THE DANTE CLUB been called "the perfect
book club novel" (Voice Ledger,
NY)? THE DANTE CLUB is a story about what could
be called America’s first book club. Longfellow,
Holmes, Lowell and their friends came together
once a week to read and discuss Dante and
Dante's relevance to their lives; in the
process, their friendships evolved and
strengthened in inspiring ways. In the fictional
narrative of the novel, the outgrowth of their
book club is the ability to uncover and stop a
savage "misreading" of literature that threatens
to destroy their city.
DANTE CLUB draws much of its energy from Dante’s
masterpiece, INFERNO, and its first American
translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Though readers can fully enjoy the novel without
any knowledge of Dante, with the new Modern
Library edition of Longfellow’s INFERNO (click
here for more information) book
clubs and reading groups have a perfect
opportunity to discuss both THE DANTE CLUB and
discussion points for your book club about
THE DANTE CLUB:
here for a printer-friendly version)
how the various characters benefit
intellectually and professionally from their
association with the “Dante Club” reading and
translation group. How is the group similar to
book clubs now popular throughout the United
States? How does it differ?
What’s the secret of the power of collective
reading? Compare the dynamic of the Dante Club
to your own book club or reading group.
death of Fanny Longfellow leads Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow to take “refuge” in his
translation of Dante. Discuss why Dante in
particular seems to help him through his dark
period. How is his sanctuary affected by the
outbreak of violence from that same work of
there ways in which literature has provided a
refuge in your own lives at difficult or
Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dante’s poetic idol
Virgil leads him through the dangerous
passages of the afterlife. In what ways do the
characters of THE DANTE CLUB guide one
another? Who would you say is the real leader?
does the backdrop of the American Civil War
influence the events of the novel?
you guess who the murderer was before it was
on, did you really?
are the ways in which the author “misdirected”
the reader from the murderer? Or, if you had
correct suspicions, what tipped you off? In
what ways were the murderer’s motives
surprising? What do they reveal about the
exploration of different types of “reading”
that runs throughout the novel?
some of the instances in modern culture in
which an artistic work – music, film or
literature – seemed to have some impact on
inspiring a crime. Some examples: Mark David
Chapman carrying “The Catcher in the Rye” when
he shot John Lennon; the Columbine killers
supposedly drawing inspiration from Marilyn
Manson songs and the video game “Doom”;
several instances of people imitating “Natural
Born Killers” in robberies and shootings. In
that last instance, John Grisham led a
campaign to prove Oliver Stone held
responsibility after a friend of Grisham’s was
killed. Is the work of art ever to blame? Do
the murders in THE DANTE CLUB stem from the
brutality of INFERNO?
the Dante Club members have revealed the
source of violence to the public? What was at
stake besides their reputations?
Discuss Patrolman Nicholas Rey's role in the
challenges facing the Dante Club, with
consideration for Rey's status as a type of
"exile" in Boston, and how this fits into the
the character of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Why does he emerge as the character in the
novel with the heaviest burden? What elements
of his personal background make the events of
the story so disruptive and frightening to
Dr. Holmes’s relationship with his son,
Wendell Junior. How does it compare or differ
from James Russell Lowell’s relationship with
his daughter, Mabel Lowell?
a look at the pictures of the characters in
the “gallery” of THE DANTE CLUB website
(www.thedanteclub.com). Do their appearances
differ from how you imagined them?
look at the link from the “gallery” to the
gallery of book covers, showing cover art of
THE DANTE CLUB from around the world. Which is
your favorite, and how does it best represent
or encapsulate the themes or story of the
you have any discussion points you think should
be added to this page? If so, please email
your suggestions here.
original materials © Matthew Pearl.
Website designed by Chris Costello www.costelloart.com