Dante Club

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The novel The Dante Club, written by Matthew Pearl, begins with John Kurtz, Chief of the Boston police, investigating a murder that occurred in 1865. The man murdered was Artemus Prescott Healey, who was the highest official of the Massachusetts courts. Healey's body was found naked and covered with insects and maggots on a sandy beach next to his property. His chambermaid insisted that he was still alive when she found him days later, and that he cried out before dying. Then Pearl introduces us to James T. Fields who is the publisher of poets and the head of Ticknor and Fields Co. He is the most successful publisher in America. Henry Longfellow, James Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Washington Greene, are authors and poets, who work for James T. Fields and they are all part of the Dante Club. They are in the process of completing the first American translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. This is an epic poem that tells a story by Dante Alighieri in the early 1300s. It is known to be one of the greatest works in the world. The project of translating the Divine Comedy from Italian to English is not accepted by Augustus Manning, treasurer of the Harvard Cooperation, who came to see Fields and told him that he doesn’t want him to publish the translation. He informs him that if he did go ahead and publish the poem, the university would cancel all contracts with his publishing company. According to Fields, the university fears that the poem might ruin the reputation of the university. A week later, Reverand Talbot was found dead. The body had been buried upside down in the ground and the victim’s feet were lit on fire. Dr. Holmes recognized that the way the victim was killed was similar to the way preachers were punished in Dante’s poem. Later, Phinneas Jennison, a wealthy contributor to the Harvard Corporation and a friend of the Dante Club was found sliced open exactly down the middle and killed in the same way as people in Dante's Inferno. The...
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