The Confidence Man

The Confidence Man

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Description

Long considered Melville's strangest novel, The Confidence-Man is a comic allegory aimed at the optimism and materialism of mid-nineteenth century America. A shape-shifting Confidence-Man approaches passengers on a Mississippi River steamboat and, winning over his not-quite-innocent victims with his charms, urges each to trust in the cosmos, in nature, and even in human nature--with predictable results. In Melville's time the book was such a failure he abandoned fiction writing for twenty years; only in the twentieth century did critics celebrate its technical virtuosity, wit, comprehensive social vision, and wry skepticism. This scholarly edition includes a Historical Note offering a detailed account of the novel's composition, publication, reception, and subsequent critical history. In addition the editors present the twenty-six surviving manuscript leaves and scraps with full transcriptions and analytical commentary.

This scholarly edition aims to present a text as close to the author's intention as surviving evidence permits. Based on collations of both editions publishing during Melville's lifetime, it incorporates 138 emendations made by the present editors. It is an Approved Text of the Center for Editions of American Authors (Modern Language Association of America).
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Product details

  • Paperback | 518 pages
  • 133.35 x 209.3 x 34.04mm | 566.99g
  • Evanston, United States
  • English
  • 0810103257
  • 9780810103252

Back cover copy

Herman Melville's The Confindence-Man: His Masquerade was the tenth, last, and most perplexing book of his decade as a professional man of letters. After it he gave up his ambitious effort to write works that would be both popular and profound and turned to poetry. The book was published on April 1--the very day of its title character's April Fools' Day masquerade on a Mississippi River Steamboat.
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About Melville

Herman Melville (1819-91) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. His novels include Moby-Dick, Typee, and Omoo, all published in authoritative editions by Northwestern University Press.
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Rating details

448,134 ratings
3.49 out of 5 stars
5 27% (119,322)
4 26% (116,793)
3 26% (115,413)
2 13% (57,708)
1 9% (38,898)
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