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The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade: The Authoritative Edition

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The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade: The Authoritative Edition Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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).

Synopsis:

The authoritative edition of Melville's last novel

Synopsis:

Long considered the author's strangest novel, The Confidence-Man is a comic allegory aimed at the optimism and materialism of mid-eighteenth-century America. A mysterious shape-changing Confidence-Man approaches passengers on a Mississippi steamboat and, winning over the (not quite innocent) victims with his charm, urges them to implicitly trust in the cosmos, in nature, and even in human nature-with predictable results.

The Confidence-Man represented a departure for Melville, a satirical and socially acute work that was to be a further step away from his sea novels. Yet it confused and angered reviewers who preferred to pigeonhole him as an adventure writer. Some have argued the book was a joke on the readers loyal to his sea stories, but if so, it backfired. Dismissed by critics as unreadable, and an undoubted financial failure, The Confidence-Man's cold reception undermined Melville's belief in his ability to make a living writing works that were both popular and profound, and he soon gave up fiction. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that critics rediscovered the book and praised its wit, stunningly modern technique, and wry view that life may be just a cosmic con game.

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

1. A mute goes aboard a boat on the Mississippi

2. Showing that many men have many minds

3. In which a variety of characters appear

4. Renewal of old acquaintance

5. The man with the weed makes it an even question whetehr he be a great sage or a great simpleton

6. At the outset of which certain passengers prove deaf to the call of charity

7. A gentleman with gold sleeve-buttons

8. A charitable lady

9. Two bussiness men transact a little business

10. In th ecabin

11. Only a page or so

12. The story of the unfortunate man, from which may be gathered whether or no he has been justly so entitled

13. The man with the traveling-cap evinces much humanity, and in a way which would seem to show him to be one of the most logical of optimists

14. Worth the consideration of those to whom it may prove worth considering

15. An old miser, upon suitable representations, is prevailed upon to venture an investment

16. A sick man, after some impatience, is induced to become a patient

17. Toward the end of which the Herb-Doctor proves himself a forgiver of injuries

18. Inquest into the true character of the Herb-Doctor

19. A soldier of fortune

20. Reappearance of one who may be remembered

21. A hard case

22. In the polite spirit of the Tusculan disputations

23. In which the powerful effect of natural scenery is evinced in the case of the Missourian, who, in view of the region round about Cairo, has a return of his chilly fit

24. A philanthropist undertakes to convert a misanthrope, but does not get beyond confuting him

25. The Cosmopolitan makes an acquaintance

26. Containing the metaphysics of Indian-hating, according to the views of one evidently not as prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages

27. Some account of a man of questionable morality, but who, nevertheless, would seem entitled to the esteem of that eminent English moralist who said he liked a good hater

28. Moot points touching the late Colonel John Moredock

29. The boon companiions

30. Opening with a poetical eulogy of the Press, and continuing with talk inspired by the same

31. A metamorphosis more surprising than any in Ovid

32. Showing that the age of magic and magicians is not yet over

33. Which may pass for whatever it may prove to be worth

34. In which the Cosmopolitan tells the story of the gentleman-madman

35. In which the Cosmopolitan strikingly evinces the artlessness of his nature

36. In which the Cosmopolitan is accosted by a mystic, whereupon ensues pretty much such talk as might be expected

37. The mystical master introduces the practical disciple

38. The disciple unbends, and consents to act a social part

39. The hypothetical friends

40. In which the story of China Aster is, at second-hand, told by one who, while not disapproving the moral, disclaims the spirit of the style

41. Ending with a rupture of the hypothesis

42. Upon the heel of hte last scene, the Cosmopolitan enters the barber's shop, a benediction on his lips

43. Very charming

44. In which the last three words of the last chapter are made the text of the discourse, which will be sure of receiving more or less attention from those readers who do not skip it

45. The Cosmopolitan increases in seriousness

Product Details

ISBN:
9780810119680
Editor:
Hayford, Harrison
Editor:
Parker, Hershel
Editor:
Hayford, Harrison
Editor:
Parker, Hershel
Author:
Parker, Hershel
Author:
Tanselle, G. Thomas
Author:
Melville, Herman
Author:
Hayford, Harrison
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Location:
Evanston, Ill.
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Satire
Subject:
Mississippi river
Subject:
Swindlers and swindling
Subject:
Steamboats
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
1
Series:
Melville
Series Volume:
no. 1585
Publication Date:
19841201
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
518
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade: The Authoritative Edition New Trade Paper
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Product details 518 pages Northwestern University Press - English 9780810119680 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
The authoritative edition of Melville's last novel
"Synopsis" by ,
Long considered the author's strangest novel, The Confidence-Man is a comic allegory aimed at the optimism and materialism of mid-eighteenth-century America. A mysterious shape-changing Confidence-Man approaches passengers on a Mississippi steamboat and, winning over the (not quite innocent) victims with his charm, urges them to implicitly trust in the cosmos, in nature, and even in human nature-with predictable results.

The Confidence-Man represented a departure for Melville, a satirical and socially acute work that was to be a further step away from his sea novels. Yet it confused and angered reviewers who preferred to pigeonhole him as an adventure writer. Some have argued the book was a joke on the readers loyal to his sea stories, but if so, it backfired. Dismissed by critics as unreadable, and an undoubted financial failure, The Confidence-Man's cold reception undermined Melville's belief in his ability to make a living writing works that were both popular and profound, and he soon gave up fiction. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that critics rediscovered the book and praised its wit, stunningly modern technique, and wry view that life may be just a cosmic con game.

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