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." After the novel's publication, Melville turned from professional writing and became a professional lecturer, mainly addressing his worldwide travels, and later for nineteen years a federal government employee
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About the Author
Date of Birth:August 1, 1819
Date of Death:September 28, 1891
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Confidence Man: His Masquerade based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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.
Tough and enigmatic but entertaining. I'll have to reread this one, but my first impression is that this is much more tightly put together than Mardi and that just as good a case can be made that Melville was a closet Mormon as that he was (as some have asserted) a closet homosexual. For example, in chapter 45 the boy in the old yellow linen coat over his red flannel shirt "like...a victim in auto de fe" peddling a lock from behind a door (which recalls John 10:7,8) says to the Cosmopolitan: Sell you one, sir?". The Cosmopolitan rejoins " I never use such blacksmith's things" This exchange points to Isaiah 54:16 which is quoted by Jesus in his prophecies to the Nephites in 3 Nephi and which refers to the Prophet Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Later the boy says when urged sell his wisdom and buy a coat, "Faith that's what I did today, and this is the coat that the price of my wisdom bought." The martyrdom of Smith seems to be covertly referenced, at least to someone of my background. Any comments?
I thought this was a great work by Melville. Although the title character is on a boat for practically the entire novel, I think that Melville really stepped out of his seafaring comfort zone in this one. He showed that he is more than a one trick pony.We see a charlatan putting on various disguises and tricking people out of their money. The different scenarios are very amusing. I think it is a good read.
A post-modern masterpiece; a century ahead of its time. Aboard a Mississippi steamboat you can see a pubescent America in the confidence, and lack of it, asked of and offered by the various hucksters, pamphleteers and visionaries. And the novel itself tests the confidence of the reader as each character slides away beneath the muddy prose waters of the river: should I trust him? Will he come back to bite me? Is this the same person who...? And all the while Melville baits his tortuous sentences with crazy vocab and linguistic gems.Genius.