Matthew Pearl, “The Dante Club” (2003)

matthew-pearl-the-dante-club-2003“1865 Boston, a small group of literary geniuses puts the finishing touches on America’s first translation of The Divine Comedy and prepares to unveil the remarkable visions of Dante to the New World. The powerful old guard of Harvard College wants to keep Dante out–believing that the infiltration of such foreign superstitions onto our bookshelves would prove as corrupting as the foreign immigrants invading Boston harbor. The members of the Dante Club–poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and publisher J. T. Fields –endure the intimidation of their fellow Boston Brahmins for a sacred literary cause, an endeavor that has sustained Longfellow in the hellish aftermath of his wife’s tragic death by fire.”    —Matthew Pearl

Nick Tosches, “In the Hand of Dante” (2002)

nick-tosches-in-the-hand-of-dante-2002“Deftly blending the sacred and the profane, Tosches boldly casts himself as the protagonist in his latest novel, an outrageously ambitious book in which he procures a purloined version of the original manuscript of ‘The Divine Comedy’ while tracing Dante’s journey as Dante struggled to complete his penultimate work. The initial chapters find Tosches looking back and questioning the results of his fascinating life and career, with a brief but devastating aside about the decline of publishing. But Tosches suddenly emerges from his morbid nostalgia when a former character named Louie (a gangster from Tosches’s Cut Numbers) gets his hands on a stolen copy of Dante’s manuscript and asks Tosches to authenticate it. That sends the author on a whirlwind tour to Arizona, Chicago, Paris and then London as he tries to verify the work and then determine its worth on the open market.” [. . .]    –Publishers Weekly, Amazon

Jane Langton, “The Dante Game: A Homer Kelly Mystery” (1992)

jane-langton-the-dante-game-a-homer-kelly-mystery-1992“The latest Homer Kelly mystery unfolds in Italy, where he joins the faculty of the newly formed American School of Florentine Studies. As students and professors read their way through Dante’s Divine Comedy , they and the author draw parallels to modern-day Florence, where a bank official (and secret heroin smuggler) plots to assassinate the anti-drug-crusading Pope, using a Beatrice-like student as hostage. After three murders at the school, Homer and a friend investigate. The novel’s strolling pace accelerates only near the very end, but there is adequate amusement for Langton or Dante fans, or both.”    –Library Journal, Amazon

Sarah Lovett, “Dantes’ Inferno: A Dr. Sylvia Strange Novel” (2002)

sarah-lovett-dantes-inferno-a-dr-sylvia-strange-novel-2002“The author of the critically acclaimed novels Dangerous Attachments and Acquired Motives is back with another spellbindingly original thriller featuring forensic psychiatrist Sylvia Strange. Now, in Dantes’ Inferno, Sylvia is called to Los Angeles from her New Mexico home when a massive explosion blasts through the J. Paul Getty Museum, endangering children on a field trip and claiming two lives. The police peg notorious bomber John Dantes as the mastermind, even though he’s in a maximum-security prison, serving a life sentence for another bombing he claims he didn’t commit.” [. . .]    —Amazon

Kimberly Heuston, “Dante’s Daughter” (2004)

kimberly-heuston-dantes-daughter-2004“When political upheaval forces her family to flee and separate, Antonia takes her brother’s advice to heart as she journeys through Italy and France with her father, the poet Dante Alighieri. She becomes a pilgrim who also embraces interior journeys: she struggles with her difficult, inattentive father; with her heart’s desire to paint as her father writes; and with her first tastes of young love. All the while Antonia harbors dreams that others tell her women are not entitles to dream. Dante’s Daughter portrays a life in full, one that beautifully answers Antonia’s own questions: “Had my journey made me wise? Had my secret griefs made me strong?” This highly imagined story–based on the few known facts of Antonia’s life–is set against the dramatic background of pre-Renaissance Europe, rendered in rich detail by storyteller and historian Kimberley Heuston.”    —Amazon

Anthony Maulucci, “Dear Dante” (2006)

anthony-maulucci-dear-dante-2006“With echoes of The Name of the Rose, comes this thought-provoking novel about an attempted murder and its mystical consequences. Part mystery, part psychological drama about love, part depiction of the duality of human nature, of good and evil, of heterosexuality and bisexuality, part exploration of the making of a Christian mystic, Dear Dante simply defies easy categorization. Anthony Maulucci has compressed many layers into his well-wrought narrative and finely tuned characterizations. The main narrator of Dear Dante is an English-born Italian named John, a professor of Renaissance studies living in Tuscany and writing a book about Dante. A bi-sexual father in the midst of a marital and spiritual crisis, John has visions of Dante and Beatrice while listening to his former student’s story of a redemptive journey through a personal hell — the attempt to murder his lover’s husband and his struggle to choose between the two women in his life — that reawaken his creative energies and help bring about his spiritual renewal.”    —Amazon

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell, “Inferno” (1976)

larry-niven-and-jerry-pournell-inferno-1976“After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he’s landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante’s road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of Hell led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless mental and physical tortures. As he struggles to escape, he’s taken through new, puzzling, and outlandish versions of sin–recast for the present day.”    —Amazon

 

Gary Panter, Jimbo’s Inferno (2006)

gary-panter-jimbos-inferno-2006“Panter is a legend of independent comics; considered the father of punk comics, he has influenced many, including Matt Groening, and warped the look of children’s television with his sets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Jimbo’s Inferno is the prequel to his critically acclaimed Jimbo in Purgatory, which came out in 2004. Inferno originally appeared as part of a short-lived line of art comics published by Groening, but here it’s been reformatted to the terrifyingly deluxe oversized standards of Purgatory. Like that volume, this follows the outlines of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but combines and conflates specific events, looking at them all with a satiric rock and roll flair. The erstwhile hero, Jimbo, guided by the boxlike Valise, travels into Focky Bocky, a subterranean mall that spirals downwards, containing a modern vision of hell. The art is a Boschian mishmash of grotesque and comic, all in Panter’s signature proto-punk style. The dialogue borrows as much from Dante as from Lewis Carroll and Frank Zappa. Together, it is a dizzying re-envisioning of Dante. Perhaps because of its earlier format, it lacks the intricate polish that made Jimbo in Purgatory a groundbreaking comic, but as a rough sketch of twisted genius, it still amazes. (Apr.)”    –Publishers Weekly, Amazon

LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, “The System of Dante’s Hell” (1965)

leroi-jones-amiri-baraka-the-system-of-dantes-hell-1965“This is an excellent autobiographical novel about the coming of age of a young, Black, male homosexual. He grapples with issues of insecurity and shame.”    –Customer Review, Amazon, November 6, 2006