The Club Dumas

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Club Dumas by Fred Miller Robinson.

Arturo Perez-Reverte The Club Dumas

This novel enjoyed some international popularity for some time before it became the basis of Roman Polanski’s delightful thriller The Ninth Gate. Happily, that movie does not exhaust the merits of this book, being an adaptation of only one of the two interlaced central plots, the duplicity of which are fundamental to the story being told.

From my own perspective, The Club Dumas is notable for being a modern novel to involve the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Pérez-Reverte’s protagonist Lucas Corso is a broker of rare books and manuscripts. Besides the explicit mention of a 1545 (second edition) Hypnerotomachia (47-49), it is apparent that Poliphilo — as well as H.P. Lovecraft’s imagined Necronomicon — has influenced Pérez-Reverte’s conception of his plot-crucial imaginary grimoire, the 1666 De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis, with its offensiveness to Christian sensibilities, provocative woodcut illustrations, impenetrable text, and Venetian origin. The novel includes the illustrations, which are richly iconic Tarot-like images.

But all that is within the plot-line harvested for The Ninth Gate. At the same time, Corso in the novel is involved with an attempt to locate an alleged fugitive original manuscript of a chapter from The Three Musketeers, and it is the phenomena of textual obsession, multiple authorship, and criminal intrigue that tie the literary and occult halves of the story into a braided whole. The novel is lively, not dense: a genuine pleasure read for the bookish. [via]