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