The Confidence-Man by Herman MelvilleThis is Herman Melvilles last strange novel and it is obvious why, a very nebulous plot doesnt help. A Mississippi steamboat leisurely floating down the river, picking up and disembarking passengers along the way, from St. Louis to New Orleans in the antebellum south before the Civil War. Set on April Fools Day ...a hint to the narrative, apparently on board is a confidence-man hence the title ( maybe more than one, possibly many) . A glimpse into the struggles of Americans on the edge of civilization the untamed West nearby, Manifest Destiny the 19th century doctrine of the nation, has come to fruition. However people on the Fidele the name of vessel are a gullible lot, believing nefarious characters with their sob stories and get -rich -quick schemes...as a person remarks A Ship of Fools. A cripple begs for alms but some do not believe the infirmity others even doubt the color of his skin, especially a man with a wooden leg no sympathy from him, a poor Mexican War veteran 1846- 1848, he says but is it quite true with a
hard heart, like his false appendage. An old miser gives money to a perfect stranger, a dubious conclusion follows in order to invest on the stock market and the slick speaking con man, a silver tongued devil absconds without leaving a receipt. Snake oil salesman promises cures for the hopelessly infirm, the overprice bottles are as effective as a fish on land. The Cosmopolitan man as he is known on board the grand Fedele , ( faithful in French) is very persuasive well dressed, a calm nature, a real gentleman in appearance somehow getting the boats cynical barber to trust his customers, giving credit and taking down a sign which states the opposite view, the businessman will regret this error soon. The passengers begin to ask questions but the man or men are great speakers and ill people want miracles, it still is true today sense goes out the window, only recovery of their health matters. Melville in the novel, makes fun of Emerson and his disciple Thoreau in an around about way the former whaler knows about life, not impressed by a silly philosophy. The book will infuriate numerous readers because of its hidden meanings and the unclear intrigues. Secrets never revealed who is the villain, yet humans are basically unchanged from era to era the good, the bad and the victims.
The Confidence-Man (1857)
The book was published on 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. The novel's title refers to its central character, an ambiguous figure who sneaks aboard a Mississippi steamboat on April Fool's Day. This stranger attempts to test the confidence of the passengers, whose varied reactions constitute the bulk of the text.
What does a medieval book from Switzerland filled with pictures of torture, suffering, and trifling hot messes getting their sin on have to do with the last—sometimes considered worst, sometimes best—work of Herman Melville? Well, in , Sebastian Brant, a devout theologian with a grim sense of humor, put together a collection of stories of sins and their dire consequences. His text, called Ship of Fools , pretty much put—as you can imagine—a bunch of fools on a boat and had them stand in for sinful, sinful humanity. Now, a lot happened on planet Earth between and , when Melville published The Confidence-Man , but no matter: Melville is all about updating this old story to the nineteenth century and using it to question the very foundation of his society's faith. That should clue you in to the kind of fun Melville is going to have with you in the book.
Philip Roth thinks so. A critical and commercial flop, it was published on April 1, The shape-shifting title character dons masquerade after masquerade, white and black, in his search for the confidence of his fellow passengers. Parts of it are elucidated brilliantly in this conversation between Cornel West and D. Graham Burnett. Whoever can make us believe all the way to the end has saved us. Meanwhile, Michael S.
Jul 02, ISBN Making very little from his hoaxes, the pleasure of trickery seems an end in itself for this slippery conman. Is he the Devil?
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