Pierre: or, The Ambiguities

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Penguin, Jan 1, 1996 - Fiction - 416 pages
24 Reviews
'Ambiguities indeed! One long brain-muddling, soul-bewildering ambiguity (to borrow Mr. Melville's style), like Melchisedeck, without beginning or end-a labyrinth without a clue - an Irish bog without so much as a Jack o'the'lantern to guide the wanderer's footsteps - the dream of a distempered stomach, disordered by a hasty supper on half-cooked pork chops." So judged the New York Herald when Pierre was first published in 1852, with most contemporary reviewers joining in the general condemnation: 'a dead failure,' 'this crazy rigmarole,' and "a literary mare's nest." Latter-day critics have recognized in the story of Melville's idealistic young hero a corrosive satire of the sentimental-Gothic novel, and a revolutionary foray into modernist literary techniques.

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From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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Review: Pierre: or, the Ambiguities (The Kraken Edition)

User Review  - Alex - Goodreads

Melville is a genius. Pierre is not good. You can tell he has gotten lost in his own novel: the coherency just falls apart. It isn't quite clear what it wants to be, and the parody often comes ... Read full review

Review: Pierre: or, the Ambiguities (The Kraken Edition)

User Review  - Robby Hunter - Goodreads

Five stars because Melville is my boy forreal. Dude kills it. This book is not as good as Moby Dick, in my opinion, but only because this book feels "greasy." There are certain books that make me feel ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
vii
Suggestions for Further Reading
xxi
A Note on the Text and Acknowledgments
xxiii
Pierre Just Emerging from His Teens
3
Love Delight and Alarm
21
The Presentiment and the Verification
43
Retrospective
67
Misgivings and Preparations
86
The Journey and the Pamphlet
204
The Cousins
216
First Night of Their Arrival in the City
229
Young America in Literature
244
Pierre as a Juvenile Author Reconsidered
257
The Church of the Apostles
265
Charlie Millthorpe
275
Pierre Immaturely Attempts a Mature Work Tidings from the Meadows Plinlimmon
282

Isabel and the First Part of the Story of Isabel
109
Intermediate between Pierres Two Interviews with Isabel at the Farmhouse
128
The Second Interview and the Second Part of the Story of Isabel Their Immediate Impulsive Effect upon Pierre
143
More Light and the Gloom of That Light More Gloom and the Light of That Gloom
165
The Unprecedented Final Resolution of Pierre
172
He Crosses the Rubicon
182
Isabel Mrs Glendinning the Portrait and Lucy
188
They Depart the Meadows
201
The FlowerCurtain Lifted from before a Tropical Author with Some Remarks on the Transcendental FleshBrush Philosophy
295
A Letter for Pierre Isabel Arrival of Lucys Easel and Trunks at the Apostles
307
Lucy at the Apostles
322
Lucy Isabel and Pierre Pierre at His Book Enceladus
330
A Walk a Foreign Portrait a Sail And the End
348
Explanatory Notes
363
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Herman Melville was born in August 1, 1819, in New York City, the son of a merchant. Only twelve when his father died bankrupt, young Herman tried work as a bank clerk, as a cabin-boy on a trip to Liverpool, and as an elementary schoolteacher, before shipping in January 1841 on the whaler Acushnet, bound for the Pacific. Deserting ship the following year in the Marquesas, he made his way to Tahiti and Honolulu, returning as ordinary seaman on the frigate United States to Boston, where he was discharged in October 1844. Books based on these adventures won him immediate success. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts (where he was the impetuous friend and neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Literary success soon faded; his complexity increasingly alienated readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died. A draft of a final prose work, Billy Budd, Sailor, was left unfinished and uncollated, packed tidily away by his widow, where it remained until its rediscovery and publication in 1924.


William C. Spengemann is the Hale Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College. He edited the Penguin Classics edition of Nineteenth-Century American Poetry.


William C. Spengemann is the Hale Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College. He edited the Penguin Classics edition of Nineteenth-Century American Poetry.

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