The text of The Confidence-Man reprinted here is again that of the first American edition (1857), slightly corrected.
The Second Edition features significantly expanded explanatory annotations, particularly of biblical allusions.
"Contemporary Reviews" includes nineteen commentaries on The Confidence-Man, eight of them new to the Second Edition. Better understood today are the concerted attacks on Melville by, especially, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Methodist reviewers.
A new section, "Biographical Overviews," embodies the transformation of knowledge about Melville’s life that has occurred over the last three decades. This section provides a wide range of readings of Melville’s life by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dennis Marnon, and Hershel Parker, among others.
"Sources, Backgrounds, and Criticism" is thematically organized to inform readers about movements and social developments central to Melville’s America and to this novel, including utopias, cults, cure-alls, Transcendentalism, Indian hating, the Bible, and popular literature.
A Selected Bibliography is also included.
About the Author
Hershel Parker is a co-editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, and of the Norton Critical Edition of Melville’s The Confidence-Man and Moby Dick. He is co-editor of the multi-volume The Writings of Herman Melville (Northwestern-Newberry).
Mark Niemeyer is Associate Professor of English at the Sorbonne. He is Associate Editor of the multi-volume Pléiade edition of Herman Melville, Oeuvres, Associate Editor of Literature on the Move: Comparing Diasporic Ethnicities in Europe and co-author of a French high school textbook on British and American history.
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
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 whetehr 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 bussiness men transact a little business
10. In th ecabin
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. Toward 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 evinced in the case of the Missourian, who, in view of the region round about 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 as 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 companiions
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 second-hand, 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 hte 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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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?