The Confidence-man: His Masquerade

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Northwestern University Press, 1988 - Fiction - 518 pages
7 Reviews
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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Review: The Confidence-Man

User Review  - Mat - Goodreads

Melville's final work, The Confidence Man, is perhaps also his overlooked masterpiece. I read Moby Dick many years ago and thought it was okay (it's a very 'gothic' novel) and I'm half way through ... Read full review

Review: The Confidence-Man

User Review  - Mark Stephenson - Goodreads

Here is a 1966 paper which I don't think is available online relevant to "a Green Prophet from Utah" (Confidence Man Chapter 2) MELVILLE'S ALMA AND THE BOOK OF MORMON ROBERT A. REES In letters to ... Read full review

Contents

A mute goes aboard a boat on the Mississippi
3
Showing that many men have many minds
7
In which a variety of characters appear
10
Renewal of old acquaintance
18
The man with the weed makes it an even question whether he be a
24
At the outset of which certain passengers prove deaf to the call of
28
A gentleman with gold sleevebuttons
35
A charitable lady
43
A philanthropist undertakes to convert a misanthrope but does not
131
The Cosmopolitan makes an acquaintance
139
Containing the metaphysics of Indianhating according to the
144
Some account of a man of questionable morality but who never
152
Moot points touching the late Colonel John Moredock
156
The boon companions
160
Opening with a poetical eulogy of the Press and continuing with
167
A metamorphosis more surprising than any in Ovid
179

Two business men transact a little business
46
In the cabin
52
Only a page or so
58
The story of the unfortunate man from which may be gathered
60
The man with the travelingcap evinces much humanity and in a
64
Worth the consideration of those to whom it may prove worth
69
An old miser upon suitable representations is prevailed upon to
72
A sick man after some impatience is induced to become a patient
77
Towards the end of which the HerbDoctor proves himself a
84
Inquest into the true character of the HerbDoctor
89
A soldier of fortune
93
Reappearance of one who may be remembered
101
A hard case
106
In the polite spirit of the Tusculan disputations
114
In which the powerful effect of natural scenery is evinced in the case
129
Showing that the age of magic and magicians is not yet over
180
Which may pass for whatever it may prove to be worth
182
In which the Cosmopolitan tells the story of the gentlemanmadman
184
In which the Cosmopolitan strikingly evinces the artlessness of his
187
In which the Cosmopolitan is accosted by a mystic whereupon
189
The mystical master introduces the practical disciple
197
The disciple unbends and consents to act a social part
200
The hypothetical friends
202
In which the story of China Aster is at secondhand told by one
208
Ending with a rupture of the hypothesis
221
Upon the heel of the last scene the Cosmopolitan enters the barbers
225
Very charming
231
In which the last three words of the last chapter are made the text of
238
The Cosmopolitan increases in seriousness
240
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About the author (1988)

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.