The Confidence-man: His Masquerade

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Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, 1857 - 354 pages
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The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade is the ninth book and final novel by American writer Herman Melville, first published in New York in 1857. The book was published on April 1, the exact day of the novel's setting. The Confidence-Man portrays a Canterbury Tales-style group of steamboat passengers whose interlocking stories are told as they travel down the Mississippi River toward New Orleans. Scholar Robert Milder notes: "Long mistaken for a flawed novel, the book is now admired as a masterpiece of irony and control, though it continues to resist interpretive consensus."
 

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I will be honest here, please have confidence in me. I read this book for school. AN Eng Lit class. I found it mostly pretty boring, I have discovered Melville likes to take a LONG time describing things that rarely appeared to matter. I did enjoy the people getting conned though. Not something I would recommend to anyone. Now I must go write a report on why this book was so terrific... 

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The Missourian, who serves as the Everyman in Melville's satire, is laugh-out-loud funny. An American with no tolerance of the fraudsters he meets on the steamship Fidele, he tells them off in fine style. The various con men appear, each with different hints of the Devil in his costume and face or figure. A little familiarity with American literature, especially the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1800-1850) is helpful to appreciation. Melville seeks for Faith on the Fidele, but wrestles with an Atheism that was not permissible to be expressed at the time. 

Contents

I
III
V
4
VII
16
IX
26
XI
32
XIII
41
XIV
53
XLIII
176
XLV
188
XLVII
195
XLIX
206
LI
212
LIII
217
LIV
228
LVI
246

XVI
56
XVII
64
XIX
71
XXI
74
XXIII
79
XXV
86
XXVII
90
XXIX
97
XXXI
108
XXXIII
116
XXXV
121
XXXVI
132
XXXVIII
139
XXXIX
150
XLI
174
LIX
247
LXI
249
LXIII
251
LXV
254
LXVII
256
LXIX
268
LXXI
272
LXXIII
274
LXXV
283
LXXVII
303
LXXVIII
307
LXXX
316
LXXXII
327
LXXXIV
330

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About the author (1857)

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was born into a seemingly secure, prosperous world, a descendant of prominent Dutch and English families long established in New York State. That security vanished when first, the family business failed, and then, two years later, in young Melville's thirteenth year, his father died. Without enough money to gain the formal education that professions required, Melville was thrown on his own resources and in 1841 sailed off on a whaling ship bound for the South Seas. His experiences at sea during the next four years were to form in part the basis of his best fiction. Melville's first two books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), were partly romance and partly autobiographical travel books set in the South Seas. Both were popular successes, particularly Typee, which included a stay among cannibals and a romance with a South Sea maiden. During the next several years, Melville published three more romances that drew upon his experiences at sea: Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850), both fairly realistic accounts of the sailor's life and depicting the loss of innocence of central characters; and Mardi (1849), which, like the other two books, began as a romance of adventure but turned into an allegorical critique of contemporary American civilization. Moby Dick (1851) also began as an adventure story, based on Melville's experiences aboard the whaling ship. However, in the writing of it inspired in part by conversations with his friend and neighbor Hawthorne and partly by his own irrepressible imagination and reading of Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists Melville turned the book into something so strange that, when it appeared in print, many of his readers and critics were dumbfounded, even outraged. By the mid-1850s, Melville's literary reputation was all but destroyed, and he was obliged to live the rest of his life taking whatever jobs he could find and borrowing money from relatives, who fortunately were always in a position to help him. He continued to write, however, and published some marvelous short fiction pieces Benito Cereno" (1855) and "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853) are the best. He also published several volumes of poetry, the most important of which was Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), poems of occasionally great power that were written in response to the moral challenge of the Civil War. His posthumously published work, Billy Budd (1924), on which he worked up until the time of his death, became Melville's last significant literary work, a brilliant short novel that movingly describes a young sailor's imprisonment and death. Melville's reputation, however, rests most solidly on his great epic romance, Moby Dick. It is a difficult as well as a brilliant book, and many critics have offered interpretations of its complicated ambiguous symbolism. Darrel Abel briefly summed up Moby Dick as "the story of an attempt to search the unsearchable ways of God," although the book has historical, political, and moral implications as well. Melville died at his home in New York City early on the morning of September 28, 1891, at age 72. The doctor listed "cardiac dilation" on the death certificate. He was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, along with his wife, Elizabeth Shaw Melville.

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