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Pierre or The Ambiguities

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Overview


Initially dismissed as "a dead failure" and "a bad book," and declined by Melville's British publisher, Pierre, or The Ambiguities has since struck critics as modern in its psychological probings and literary technique--fit, as Carl Van Vechten said in 1922, to be ranked with The Golden Bowl, Women in Love, and Ulysses. None of Melville's other "secondary" works has so regularly been acknowledged by its most thorough critics as a work of genuine grandeur, however flawed.

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Pierre: or, The Ambiguities

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Overview


Initially dismissed as "a dead failure" and "a bad book," and declined by Melville's British publisher, Pierre, or The Ambiguities has since struck critics as modern in its psychological probings and literary technique--fit, as Carl Van Vechten said in 1922, to be ranked with The Golden Bowl, Women in Love, and Ulysses. None of Melville's other "secondary" works has so regularly been acknowledged by its most thorough critics as a work of genuine grandeur, however flawed.

This scholarly edition aims to present a text as close to the author's intention as the surviving evidence permits. Based on collations of the two issues and the two impressions of the single edition publishing in Melville's lifetime, it incorporates necessary emendations made by the series editors. This text of Pierre is an Approved Text of the Center for Editions of American Authors (Modern Language Association of America).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140434842
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 780,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.86 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Biography

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.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      August 1, 1819
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      September 28, 1891
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15

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