The Confidence Man: His Masquerade


Herman Melville's The Confindence-Man: His Masquerade was the tenth, last, and most perplexing book of his decade as a professional man of letters. After it he gave up his ambitious effort to write works that would be both popular and profound and turned to poetry. The book was published on April 1--the very day of its title character's April Fools' Day masquerade on a Mississippi River Steamboat.
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The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

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Herman Melville's The Confindence-Man: His Masquerade was the tenth, last, and most perplexing book of his decade as a professional man of letters. After it he gave up his ambitious effort to write works that would be both popular and profound and turned to poetry. The book was published on April 1--the very day of its title character's April Fools' Day masquerade on a Mississippi River Steamboat.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564784544
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: American Literature Series
  • Pages: 355
  • Sales rank: 1,228,883
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Melville (1819-1891), novelist and poet, was born in New York City. Working with Romantic materials of primitivism, individualism, nature and the Gothic, Melville produced a body of fiction that analyzed reality in both its social and metaphysical dimensions. He is best known for his masterpiece, Moby Dick.

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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

Table of Contents

1. A mute goes aboard a boat on the Mississippi.

2. Showing that many men have many minds.

3. In which a variety of characters appear.

4. Renewal of old acquaintance.

5. The man with the weed makes it an even question whether he be a great sage or a great simpleton.

6. At the outset of which certain passengers prove deaf to the call of charity.

7. A gentleman with gold sleeve-buttons.

8. A charitable lady.

9. Two business men transact a little business.

10. In the cabin.

11. Only a page or so.

12. The story of the unfortunate man, from which may be gathered whether or no he has been justly so entitled.

13. The man with the traveling-cap evinces much humanity, and in a way which would seem to show him to be one of the most logical of optimists.

14. Worth the consideration of those to whom it may prove worth considering.

15. An old miser, upon suitable representations, is prevailed upon to venture an investment.

16. A sick man, after some impatience, is induced to become a patient.

17. Towards the end of which the Herb-Doctor proves himself a forgiver of injuries.

18. Inquest into the true character of the Herb-Doctor.

19. A soldier of fortune.

20. Reappearance of one who may be remembered.

21. A hard case.

22. In the polite spirit of the Tusculan disputations.

23. In which the powerful effect of natural scenery is evidenced in the case of the Missourian, who, in view of the region roundabout Cairo, has a return of his chilly fit.

24. A philanthropist undertakes to convert a misanthrope, but does not get beyond confuting him.

25. The Cosmopolitan makes an acquaintance.

26. Containing the metaphysics of Indian-hating, according to the views of one evidently not so prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages.

27. Some account of a man of questionable morality, but who, nevertheless, would seem entitled to the esteem of that eminent English moralist who said he liked a good hater.

28. Moot points touching the late colonel John Moredock.

29. The boon companions.

30. Opening with a poetical eulogy of the Press, and continuing with talk inspired by the same.

31. A metamorphosis more surprising than any in Ovid.

32. Showing that the age of magic and magicians is not yet over.

33. Which may pass for whatever it may prove to be worth.

34. In which the Cosmopolitan tells the story of the gentleman-madman.

35. In which the Cosmopolitan strikingly evinces the artlessness of his nature.

36. In which the Cosmopolitan is accosted by a mystic, whereupon ensues pretty much such talk as might be expected.

37. The mystical master introduces the practical disciple.

38. The disciple unbends, and consents to act a social part.

39. The hypothetical friends.

40. In which the story of China Aster is at secondhand told by one who, while not disapproving the moral, disclaims the spirit of the style.

41. Ending with a rupture of the hypothesis.

42. Upon the heel of the last scene the Cosmopolitan enters the barber's shop, a benediction on his lips.

43. Very charming.

44. In which the last three words of the last chapter are made the text of the discourse, which will be sure of receiving more or less attention from those readers who do not skip it.

45. The Cosmopolitan increases in seriousness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2003

    The Unreliable Narrator

    This is one of the most metaphysically profound books I've ever read. In it, Melville consistently challenges his reader's belief in the truth of his own narrative. He does this by presenting a protagonist so variable as to defy definition. He may, or may not, be the devil as the blurb here indicate. I suspect the real Confidence Man is the author himself. The question that the narrative constantly raises is, can this narrative be trusted? Maybe, Maybe not.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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