In the hand of Dante

by Nick Tosches

Paper Book, 2002




Boston : Little, Brown, c2002.


Deep inside the Vatican library, a priest discovers the rarest and most valuable art object ever found: the manuscript of The Divine Comedy, written in Dante's own hand. Via Sicily, the manuscript makes its way from the priest to a mob boss in New York City, where a writer named Nick Tosches is called to authenticate the prize. For this writer, the temptation is too great: he steals the manuscript in a last-chance bid to have it all. Some will find it offensive; others will declare it transcendent; it is certain to be the most ragingly debated novel of the decade.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jeyra
Possibly the most horrible book I've ever read. The story-line itself was interesting, but you have to wade through so much smut to get anywhere that it's hardly worth it. Rated R for violence, sexual references and sexuality.
LibraryThing member atheist_goat
Couldn't finish it (and I don't leave books unfinished). Imagine Charles Bukowski writing The Da Vinci Code, and you have this book. Okay, it's a little better written than Bukowski, but that's because Bukowski was not so much a monkey with a typewriter as a monkey masturbating onto a dry-erase board. Still, this is terrible. After two pages of obscenity and pornography I yawned and said, "Nick, you got a story here or something? Because your attempts to shock me are not a narrative." I slogged on for another hundred pages of "shocking" non-narrative, but after the ten-page reproduction of a letter Tosches sent to his editor, which was a) unrelated to the story and b) so adolescently self-congratulatory that even Hunter S. Thompson would have blushed to write it, I decided I had better things to do. Like re-grout the bathroom.… (more)
LibraryThing member Mithalogica
I'm really ambivalent about this book. I have started it twice, and I can't get too far into it. I'm a HUGE lover of Dante and the Commedia (I'm writing my Master's thesis on it!) and I know it quite well. But even while I can sort of see the connection, I don't identify with it.

Dante's Inferno is balanced, ruled by a certain kind of reason; even the most horrific scenes in the Inferno are still meticulously crafted in some of the most beautiful, lyrical Italian ever set down. Maybe I haven't gone far enough to see a pattern, but I just don't see that resonance here. The tone, the violence, the language - it isn't about Dante to me. And if the main character is intended to evoke Dante the pilgrim, I don't think the author gets Dante at all. Without that connection, the rough, dark, contemporary violent edge just isn't a style I'd read otherwise. I may go back and give it another go sometime, but for now, I'd say give this one a pass.… (more)
LibraryThing member DuffDaddy
Strange book with some good parts but way more boring parts. I really enjoyed the caper part of the book - the main character (named Nick Tosches) trying to steal then sell the manuscript of the Devine Comedy - but did not enjoy the alternating chapters about Dante. They were difficult to read and harder still to understand.
Quote of Jewish man to Dante - "Faith is but a birthmark with which we are born, an impalpable umbilicus to time and place, which we rarely ponder to cut."
… (more)
LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
I'm adding a half-star rating just to have a placeholder, but I'd really give this book no stars. It was so awful, I just couldn't wait for it to end. It sounded like it'd be a good book in theory but in actuality it was chapters of grotesque violence and criminality alternated with the most ridiculous "poetic" language chapters that just went on and on and said nothing. I seem to recall at some point there being a referenced made to Dante's work not really being so great and in need of some help. I had the feeling that the "poetic" chapters were meant to be this author's improvements over Dante's poetry. If so, he failed miserably. Dante was a great; this book was not.… (more)
LibraryThing member bertilak
In response to Jeyra's review: this book is about, and based upon, Dante's Commedia. You have to go through Hell to get to Purgatory then Paradise! Do you get it now?
LibraryThing member wpschlitz
Only a few chapters in, still not sure what I think. Can be very beautiful... and can be heavy handed with the bad language and bad attitude. We'll see where this goes.
LibraryThing member Phil-James
I'm going to give up on this one. Life's too short to listen to all this foul-mouthed egotistical babble.
I get the point, the author inhabits the caricature of himself to play with your mind and undermine the foundations of "literature" and the publishing industry, but I just got bored.
LibraryThing member jonfaith
It was my birthday in 2002. I had rec'd a gift card to a local indie bookseller ( we miss you Hawley-Cooke) and I happily went to buy this. They were sold out. I bought instead Prague by Arthur Phillips which was quite the rave at the time and had the added interest of my impending trip to Eastern Europe. A friend of mine was cheating on his wife at the time. he went to another local and bought me a copy. He was a good friend. Was he buying my silence about his activities? I first read Prague and then (20 days?) later experienced a twist in its plot with my own soon-to-be wife in Budapest. Hours after finishing Phillips' Prague, I devoured In The Hand of Dante. Everything both stolid and electric about both Tosches and Dante remains present and pulsating throughout the entire novel, an agreeable amalgamation of literary homage and sinister thriller.… (more)
LibraryThing member KarenDuff
This book annoyed me from the very first chapter and it never got any better. I've got nothing against swearing but when every second word is fuck then it gets to be a bit much.
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
A bit confused by all the separate narrative strands at the beginning and it's slow going - especially with the seemingly autobiographical background. Is Tosches as bitter/angry as the book's character named "Nick Tosches"? Maybe he assumes I'm more intelligent than I am, but it seems disjointed to me. I felt myself wanting to skip over the sections in which Dante appears and found Tosches' rendering of some kind of Middle English often unintelligible. If I'm supposed to look up all the Italian and Latin bits - forget it!… (more)


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