As passengers aboard the steamboat Fidele prepare for their trip from St. Louis to New Orleans, they read a placard offering a reward for the capture of an imposter from the East a confidence man. During the trip, the imposter assumes many disguises as he goes about the boat cheating and duping passengers out of their money. In confrontations between the confidence man and...more
Something further may follow of this Masquerade.
but this reader’s glad it didn’t, as his enthusiasm for the book faded toward the end. Which isn’t to knock the book necessarily, since The Confidence Man is almost more of a conceptual piece than a novel; meaning that the idea is as important, or even more, than the actual ...more
Strange, that in a work of amusement, this severe fidelity to real life should be exacted by anyone, who, by taking up such a work, sufficiently shows that he is not unwilling to drop real life, and turn, for a time, to something different. Yes, it is, indeed, strange that any one should clamour for the thing he is weary of; that any one, who, for any cause, finds real life dull, should yet demand of him who is to divert his attention from it, that he should be true to that dullness.Well said, ...more
Combustible, brilliant, dialectical, like a Marx brothers film in the mid American 19th Century. Literally filled with ramshackle, charming, sleazy, opportunistic, phantasmal, eccentric, grotesque, gaudy, loquacious characters who are all out to
* Talk- to anyone, about anything, especially their own opinions, biases, agendas, philosophies and observations
* Trick- (see above) that is, to "con" anyone they can get their hands on to abide by or follow or merely acknowledge their particular grievan ...more
But I've already touched on the heart of the matter. Sustenance. To be thought ...more
Not too long after leaving the Missouri shore, I began to have doubts that I would be able to complete the voyage. Any reader can have little doubt that Melville was a skilled and articulate writer, unfortunately I was ...more
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MELVILLE'S ALMA AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
ROBERT A. REES
In letters to three different people, not long after Mardi had been published, Melville spoke of what he felt was its latent excellence. To his father-in-law Judge Lemuel Shaw, he wrote, “Time, which is the solver of all riddles, will solve 'Mardi'.”1 In a letter to Richard Bentley, 5 June 1849, Melville assured him, “ ...more
A long overdue re-reading of Melville's strangest, darkest novel -- the last he published in his lifetime. This edition features an introduction and extensive annotations by H Bruce Franklin who does an impressive job teasing out the novel's many themes, references, games, and double-meanings. This is a novel one should approach with care -- it is, as the title would suggest, filled with tricks and disguises. Melville's sentences are usually clearer and more colloquial than those of his contempo ...more
Interesting from a disability angle be ...more
Characters and readers are kept off balance in "The Confidence-Man" (1857), after which Herman Melville turned his back on the novel form forever. The book begins as a parade of knaves and suckers move on and off stage on a Mississippi steamboat trip begun on April Fool's Day. There are trusting fools and unscrupulous con men aplenty here, and we often don't know ...more
I read Moby Dick many years ago and thought it was okay (it’s a very ‘gothic’ novel) and I’m half way through Typee (his first novel) so I can’t speak for his other novels (some of which are highly spoken such as White-Jacket) but this is one serious book with some very important underlying messages for humankind.
As other reviewers have pointed out, there is no straight clear linear narrative here and the reas ...more
I had no inclination what a timely book this would be now that our democracy is beset by real confidence-men. This was an especially challenging read, posing more questions than offering any answers. Melville's confidence-man does not rip off his victims so much as reveal the hypocrisy in their core beliefs and institutions: charity, religion, medicine, and capitalism to name a few. With so much contemporary talk about restoring consumer conf ...more
However...I made it about 20% of the way in and decided that it's really just not worth it.
There's definitely some interesting things going on, but it's all hiding between rather convoluted English and a not-very-exciting storyline, as well as no real characters to even connect with that the whole thing becomes quite ...more
"Have you conf ...more
I can't remember the last time I read anything as steeped in didactic allegory: Piers Plowman, maybe. This April Fool's journey down the Mississippi from St. Louis to somewhere south of Cairo had me very much at sea, even with Mr. Franklin's copious foot-notes; I came to realize how unfamiliar I am with American literature and philosophy of the 19 ...more