Inferno

Inferno

by Dan Brown

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Overview

Inferno by Dan Brown

#1 WORLDWIDE BESTSELLER

Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in an Italian hospital, disoriented and with no recollection of the past thirty-six hours, including the origin of the macabre object hidden in his belongings. With a relentless female assassin trailing them through Florence, he and his resourceful doctor, Sienna Brooks, are forced to flee. Embarking on a harrowing journey, they must unravel a series of codes, which are the work of a brilliant scientist whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written, Dante Alighieri's The Inferno.
 
Dan Brown has raised the bar yet again, combining classical Italian art, history, and literature with cutting-edge science in this captivating thriller.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385537858
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/14/2013
Series: Robert Langdon Series , #4
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 104,543
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Dan Brown is the author of The Da Vinci Code, one of the most widely read novels of all time, as well as the international bestsellers Inferno, The Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress. He lives in New England with his wife.

Hometown:

New England

Date of Birth:

June 22, 1964

Place of Birth:

Exeter, New Hampshire

Education:

Phillips Exeter Academy 1982; B.A., Amherst College, 1986; University of Seville, Spain

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Inferno"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Dan Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Inferno, the thrilling new novel by Dan Brown, internationally bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol.

WARNING—THIS GUIDE CONTAINS SPOILERS

1. WARNING: THESE QUESTIONS CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE NOVEL

What features does Inferno share with Dan Brown’s other Robert Langdon novels: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol? In what ways is it different from those earlier works?

2. Why has Brown used these lines from Dante as an epigraph to Inferno: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”? How does that statement illuminate the novel? What is the particular danger of maintaining moral neutrality in Inferno?

3. What accounts for the frenetic narrative pace of the novel? How does Dan Brown use chapter endings to create suspense? What other devices create a narrative tension that pulls the reader along?

4. What are some of the most surprising twists and turns in Inferno?

5. What role does the setting play in Inferno? In what ways are Florence, Venice, and Istanbul integral to the plot of the novel?

6. The brilliant biochemist Bertrand Zobrist asserts some unsettling ideas. He argues that the Black Plague, which killed one-third of Europe’s population, was one of the best things that ever happened to humanity and ushered in the Renaissance. He also believes that the human race won’t survive unless we have another mass extinction event, similar in scale to the Black Plague. In his confrontation with Dr. Sinskey, he rails, “We are on the brink of the end of humanity, and our world leaders are sitting in boardrooms commissioning studies on solar power, recycling, and hybrid automobiles.... Ozone depletion, lack of water, and pollution are not the disease—they are the symptoms. The disease is overpopulation” [p. 139]. Is Zobrist right about these issues? Is his solution the lesser of two evils or is it too morally repugnant even to consider?

7. How does Langdon use his knowledge of literature, art, and symbology to decipher the clues that lead him to the location of Zobrist’s virus? In what ways is Dante’s great poem, The Inferno, central to the novel?

8. The Consortium, which allows Bertrand Zobrist to do his work on the virus undetected, has a philosophy of "Provide the service. Ask no questions. Pass no judgment" [p. 75]. Is that a dangerous philosophy, and if so, why? Why does the Provost, by the end of the novel, realize that "For the first time in his life, ignorance no longer felt like the moral high ground"? [p. 444]. How disconcerting is it to learn that the Consortium really does exist, though under a different name, with offices in seven countries?

9. Sienna Brooks is perhaps the most complex character in the novel. What kind of woman is she? How has her past influenced who she has become? How does she change over the course of the novel? Why does she feel that she has finally found a purpose at the end of the book?

10. In what ways do issues of trust and betrayal play out in Inferno?

11. Sienna explains one of the fundamental tenets of Transhumanism: "We as humans have a moral obligation to participate in our evolutionary process . . . to use our technology to advance the species, to create better humans-healthier, stronger, with higher-functioning brains. Everything will soon be possible" [p. 453]. Do an internet search on "Transhumanism" and discuss/debate the motivations and philosophical assumptions of the movement. What does Dan Brown's use of a real-life contemporary movement like Transhumanism add to Inferno? Does Transhumanism offer valid solutions to some of the essential problems that confront the human species?

12. In an emotional speech to Dr. Sinskey, Sienna says, "Bertrand died all alone because people like yourself refused to open your minds enough even to admit that our catastrophic circumstances might actually require an uncomfortable solution. All Bertrand ever did was speak the truth . . . and for that, he was ostracized" [p. 449]. Does Bertrand go from villain to hero by the end of the book? Do the ends (saving the human species) justify the means (releasing a virus that will dramatically limit population growth) in this case?

13. Why doesn't Robert Langdon give up on Sienna, even after he realizes what her motives are?

14. At the end of the novel, Dr. Sinskey invites Sienna to accompany her to a conference where they will address world leaders about the virus Bertrand Zobrist has released and discuss the issue of population control. Is there a significance to having two women, rather than two men, assume this role?

Interviews

Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Dan Brown

The Barnes & Noble Review: You've said you first read the Inferno in high school. When did you first realize that Dante's work would be the basis for a novel?

Dan Brown: I've known for at least a decade that I would one day write a novel incorporating the world of Dante Alighieri. While researching Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, I was immersed in church history and philosophy. One of the byproducts of that research was my coming to understand that Dante's popularized vision of the afterlife deeply influenced our modern Christian perceptions of hell. The notion of hell certainly existed long before Dante, and yet only in vague terms. The Bible described hell as an underworld of unquenchable fire. Classical mythology was a bit more specific, describing various realms and monsters, but it wasn't until Dante published The Divine Comedy that humankind was given a vivid, codified vision of the underworld. Dante described a multi-layered pit of misery where sinners endured specific punishments for specific sins, and this horrifying concept helped solidify hell as the deterrent to sin.

BNR: You researched Dante and the mysteries surrounding his life and work in Florence. What was your most surprising discovery?

DB: For me, one of the most surprising themes of Dante's Inferno is the portrayal of pride as the most serious of the seven deadly sins — a transgression punished in the deepest ring of hell. The notion of pride as the ultimate sin dovetails perfectly with Greek mythology, in which hubris is responsible for the downfall of the archetypal hero. In mythology, no man is more prideful than he who considers himself above the problems of the world-for example, the person who ignores injustice because it does not affect him directly. This notion is reflected in a famous paraphrasing of Dante's text: The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. This is a recurring theme of the novel.

BNR: Dante's Divine Comedy is composed in an intricately braided poetic style as it tells the story of a poet's passage through hell, purgatory and paradise. What aspects of his style most influenced you in the writing of Inferno? Did you rely on a particular translation or translations?

DB: The rhythm of Dante's poetry and his use of anaphora (repetition of phrases) does indeed find its way into the novel's "shade? sections and influences the way my villain speaks and writes. Additionally, Dante's use of physical motion to keep his action moving is something I've always tried to do in my novels, and I certainly continued that in Inferno. Regarding translations of Dante's original Italian, one of the great luxuries of writing this book in the digital age was that I was able very quickly and easily to compare multiple translations. At times, I was stunned by how greatly those translations differed. In the end, I found myself relying primarily on two — the translations by [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow and [Allen] Mandelbaum.

BNR: The images of punishment throughout the Inferno are based on medieval conceptions of sin and its onsequences. Do you find them still relevant to themes of good and evil in today's world?

DB: Dante's vision of justice relies on the concept of contrapasso (literally, suffering the opposite) — in a sense, the punishment precisely fits the crime. For example: a fortune teller who sins by seeing the future is punished by having his head placed on backwards so he can only see in reverse; a ruthless man who left another to starve to death is doomed to have his own bloody skull gnawed upon by the man he let starve; an adulterous couple who succumbed to lust is punished by being fused together sexually for all eternity without ever being satisfied. Today, in most cultures, the notions of contrapasso and "an eye for an eye? have disappeared, which may be one of the reasons that modern readers find Dante's brutal punishments so fascinating.

BNR: Although Dante wrote his epic hundreds of years before Leonardo da Vinci, the two men are connected by their shared Florentine heritage. Do you see any similarities between the two?

DB: Beyond being fellow Florentines, Dante and Leonardo share an elite spot in the pantheon of artistic giants. Both The Divine Comedy and Mona Lisa are examples of those rare human achievements that transcend their moments in history and become enduring cultural touchstones. Both masterpieces continue to speak to us centuries after their creation and are considered examples of the finest works ever produced in their respective fields. Like Leonardo, Dante had a staggering influence on culture, religion, history, and the arts. In addition to codifying the early Christian vision of Hell, Dante inspired some of history's greatest luminaries — Longfellow, Chaucer, Borges, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Monteverdi, Michelangelo, Blake, Dalí — and even a few modern video game designers.

BNR: Dante placed himself at the center of his poetic epic — but he also called upon a figure from the classical world, the poet Virgil, as a trustworthy guide on his journey into darkness. Have you provided Robert Langdon with a Virgil?

DB: Over the course of Langdon's adventure, he encounters numerous characters that have counterparts in Dante's Inferno. Some of these characters are overt. Others are more obscure. I'm hoping that some of the fun will be debating the parallels between Virgil's descent and Langdon's.

BNR: The opening of Inferno leaves us with tantalizing references to places and ideas that — one hopes — will be illuminated as the novel unfolds. Do you begin writing with the notion of implanting mysteries for your readers, or does that come later, as the story develops?

DB: Before I begin writing any novel, I complete an extensive outline (the outline for The Da Vinci Code was over one hundred pages). Once I have a clear sense of the arc of the novel, I begin each chapter by deciding not what I'll offer the reader, but rather what I'll withhold. A reader's desire to guess what I've hidden is always more exciting than anything I can show.

BNR: When we first encounter Robert Langdon in Inferno, he's in a place his work has made very familiar to him, but he's been plunged into truly unknown waters. When first you planned your new book, did you know you'd be making life this difficult for your hero?

DB: Absolutely. Only by placing Langdon in a difficult position does he have a chance to be a hero.

—May 14, 2013

Customer Reviews

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Inferno 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2089 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Dan Brown fan, and I always look forward to reading his new books; however, this particular one was hard to get through. Normally I can't put one of his books down, and I fly through it. But this time I had to talk myself into finishing it. I think he went a little overboard on details. Events didn't seem to smoothly relate to each other. And the plot was both far fetched (even more than usual) and stale at the same time. Some of his tricks and twists have been used one time too many, and towards the end of the book I felt like he was throwing in too many twists just for the sake of it,to the point where it became convoluted and had me rolling my eyes. With all that said, I still enjoyed some things. I like how Langdon had amnesia in the very first chapter, and therefore had to work backwards to piece things together. That was a fresh idea of Dan Brown's. I just wish the rest of the book was just as fresh. It wasn't terrible, but it didn't leave me at the edge of my seat, biting my nails, like some of his previous books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dan Brown catches a lot of grief for the historical accuracy of his novels, but that is exactly the reason why they are under fiction. Any smart author blends fact with fiction. For all of you who don't get that, do you ever wonder why the Flintstones wasn't considered a reality show destined for The History Channel? Sometimes things are just for fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book enjoyable. As I do with his other stories. I read them for entertainment and not as a definitive answer to religion so please try not to characterize every one that reads it as ignorant.
ScottBrazil More than 1 year ago
Admittedly, I was hesitent to read this book because Dan Brown has become the author we love to find fault with and his novels, to a degree, have become formulaic. After reading The Lost Symbol, I thought that perhaps it was time to stop following this series. I was wrong. Yes, this one follows that same formula (a successful one, I may add), but I was completely engrossed in this story and found that the outside world simply vanished. Dan Brown's prose has improved, and he once again finds a way to weave history, science, art, geography etc. into a facininating thriller. That, and he at least gets you to think about a real-word issue (human population), regardless of whether or not you agree with what his view is. I should have seen some of the twists that were coming, but I didn't, and the ending was not what I expected at all. This is a story I expect will resonate with me for quite a while!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved many of Dan Brown's previous books and looked forward to this one with great anticipation. What a let-down. It's nothing more than an art history travelogue thrown in with cliff notes for Dante's Inferno, surrounding a mystery that is definitely not heart pounding. As Langdon "dashes" from one traumatic event to the next he spends an inordinated amount of time (pages and pages) admiring architecture, design and the various stunning art pieces of past centuries. All this book did for me was to make me want to call my travel agent.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Inferno by Dan Brown If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you'll love Inferno. Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence not remembering how he got there. Last thing he remembers, he was walking to a lecture where he teaches symbology at Harvard University in Boston. He's told he's been shot, and his attacker has another attempt on his life; killing one of the physicians who was treating him. Sienna Brooks, a young female physician rescues him and they must soon evade both the US government and a sinister looking set of agents led by agent Cristoph Brüler. Langdon and Brooks outsmart all of these people to uncover that there is a virus that is going to be released by the renown biochemist billionaire, Bertrand Zobrist. Zobrist is a firm believer of Malthusian catastrophe - "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world." To avoid this "Inferno," Zobrist has decided to take matters in his hand and reduce the world's population. Deep beneath Dante's Inferno lies clues that will lead Langdon, Dr. Brooks, the Consortium - a powerful organization that is for hire, and Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey - the head of the World Health Organization - to the place where the virus is being released. The reader is exposed to quite accurate descriptions of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul as the plot thickens, twists, and is finally revealed to the tune of Liszt' Dante symphony at the Istanbul ancient cisterns - which I'm listening as I write this. The book is a well researched novel. The twists and turns are incredible; it's a page turner. Couldn't put it down, read it in two days. I found myself searching for maps of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul to follow Langdon's quest. In the end, I had to listen to Liszt' Dante symphony to read the climactic conclusion: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," for once you open its pages, you'll be trapped in this fascinating tale, and you will also be re-examining what you thought of Dante's work.....
hamletsghost More than 1 year ago
I eagerly awaited this book, as I do all of Brown's novels. Halfway through, I was convinced the author left the writing to an underling. The lack of an editor was glaring... characters' descriptions were just laughable. If I had read one more time "the man in designer sunglasses, itching his neck" I would have thrown the book against a wall. Words don't describe my disappointment... had to force myself to read the second half, and then only so that I wouldn't feel so cheated out of my money. Oddly enough, this week's 'People' magazine had a piece on Brown's house... how cleverly he had devised hidden doors and clues. If he had spent half the time on his manuscript that he used coming up with house decor, 'Inferno' wouldn't be such a mess. Never dreamed I'd be giving Dan Brown two stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reads like a travel essay of florence. Action is continually interupted with langdon's thought commentaries on the art or architecture. No edge of your seat tension on my part. In spite of the book's plot l was rather bored by it. Also picturing tom hanks as langdon doesn't work for me! Dan brown is more name than talent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having a hard time getting into this one. Doesn't seem to have the tension of his other books. So far it's just one big chase scene with lots of riddles and trivia. Maybe his formula is wearing thin?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was fantastic beginning to end. I loved that even when you thought you had figured it out everything changed again. Loved every minute!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible disappointment after his other books. I found that not only did I not care about the characters in the book, I also was skipping portions of the book to get to the end. It was one of the books that I finished because I had started it. The book tends to balance between an academic travelogue of Florence and other historical sites and a ongoing lecture about the imminent dangers caused by overpopulation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I likedthis book, but at times it was very confusing. I felt like I was blindfolded and riding a rollercoaster...just this absolute feeling of disorientation. It did get better towards the middle, but getting there was...rough. Definitely wasn't able to put it down. I think his other books are more engrossing, and the plot twists are easier to follow. These gave me whiplash.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the premise interesting but got bogged down in all the traveloge type narration about the locations. I have read several book lately where the author keeps repeating the same details throughout the book. For example what the character experienced in the past or events from earlier in the book. The book was no exception. The repetition began to feel like filler. I kept thinking I got it the first time, move on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to this book for a long time and boy was I disappointed. I went to art school and the art history teachers made art history more exciting then this book. It reads like a tour guides book to Florence, done as a car chase. It kind of reminds me of the old movie if its Tues day it must be Belguim. There is no great concept in this book for the mytery part either, just another doomsday story which if you read his other books is the pattern. It seems to me Da Vinci code may have been his one hit wonder because this is a major disappointment, I have had to force myself to finish the book and others I have talked to have said the same thing just a boring chase book with so much repetition that I just began to skim over the pages were it began getting to me. I know Dante was expelled from Florence but how many times does Brown need to remind us after the 10 th time I got the message Dante was expelled okay already.
cooknbooks More than 1 year ago
Typical Dan Brown, same blueprint as the Da Vinci Code. Fast pace thriller with some historical facts and a puzzle to be solved. A highly entertaining read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG... I have to re read again with Google, first to brush up on my Italian and THEN... go to the places on the map to see the art....and the story was not that bad.... cant wait for the movie.... again, worth the wait...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Dan Brown does not disappoint -- IF you understand Dan Brown. I have read all his books, and enjoy the fast paced thrilling ride he takes us on from the very first page. Interestingly, I read a newspaper review complaining that Inferno goes into too much explanation about art, architecture, geography, etc. I totally disagree! I found myself going back and forth between my Nook and the internet to "see" the places he was so beautifully describing. Even so, I finished the book in two days. Brown's books translate well into the illustrated versions for obvious reasons, and I will be adding this one to my collection when it is released. The only reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is because of Brown's continued formulaic writing, successful though it may be. But then -- I knew that going in.
Hampshire More than 1 year ago
One long chase scene. Not anywhere as interesting as the DaVinci code. Maybe I'm just tired of watching Langdon race thru historic monuments. Why do so many authors just repeat their formula over and over? 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not Dan Brown's Best. I usually fly through his books and was excited he wrote another Robert Langdon novel; however, INFERNO was a let down. It is weighted down by too many details and flips back and forth between too many characters. I like when Brown's books volley between the two main characters, the bad guy and Langdon. The reader is smacked around the court in every direction but over the net. The story line is good. The book is poorly executed. I'm saddened even more, because I have a true fondness for books that take place in Italy and Dante's THE DIVINE COMEDY. Sorry Mr. Brown, INFERNO was a miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dan Brown's books are very formulaic, but I still am eager to read each one. Good storytelling, amazing visual descriptions, and still great twists/turns. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and am hopeful that Mr. Brown writes another. The ideas behind the book are so...shocking, yet they bring some serious issues to light. I always enjoy reading his books and the conversations they elicit with my fellow readers after.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OK, so does anyone ever need to sleep or eat (or pee for that matter) in this novel? Langdon has a brain injury and yet has no problem stopping his meds cold and then pops some No Doze and is good for 36 straight hours of high intensity adventure? Does Langdon ever learn from his past experiences? I'm willing to go on the ride but you gotta make me believe in the experience too. Robert walks right into the same traps that he always does. And just how many inept professional killers are there? I was really looking forward (like 3 years) to this book but I couldn't hop on board this one. I'm usually an easy voyeur but this one lost me early. I really want to visit Venice and Florence now but this wasn't a travel book.... or was it?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a good travel guide. That's not what I look for in a novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Other reviewers were right, not a good book. Page after page of travel narrative with very little happening. Been a long time since I failed to finish a book, but this is one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The actual story was about 30 pages and the rest of the book was a travelog. Very boring unless you are interested in descriptions of buildings etc. Had to do a lot of skimming and was thrilled when I was finished!
AThinkTank4u More than 1 year ago
I looked forward to its release and ended up feeling burdened by my commitment to read through until the end. It read like a third rate travel guide. Detailed descriptions of each and every museum and historical monument didn't contribute anything to the telling of the story. In fact, the story (as disjointed as it was) felt like a secondary or tertiary goal of the writer. With close to 600 pages, it was about 400 pages too long. I felt no investment in the characters and even less in the storytelling itself. There a many great books out. This was not one of them.