Herman Melville-The Confidence Man

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From the latest issue:


One night, while out with her at a graduate student party, I got to talking with a group of PhD candidates reading in American Literature who to my utter shock and astonishment had never read Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. In blinded amazement and energetic fury I directed them to sit down and give American Literature a read!

Never studied lit (just read some) so I was a tad surprised that postgrads ignore it.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 7 March 2015 09:48 (four years ago) link

canon ain't what it used to be

ryan, Saturday, 7 March 2015 14:15 (four years ago) link

no gaps in the literature to fill

j., Saturday, 7 March 2015 15:23 (four years ago) link

I doubt that it's all that ignored. The guy just needed a cool way to motivate his review.

jmm, Saturday, 7 March 2015 15:27 (four years ago) link


Cartesian Dual in the Sun (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 7 March 2015 15:49 (four years ago) link

Edmund White on Jean Giono. Features quite a bit of Melville (Giono translated MD to French).

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 14 March 2015 00:20 (four years ago) link

That is amazing, thanks. And re White saying that Faulkner* was maybe improved by translation into French, reminds me of Melville maybe influenced by Poe (who was also said to be improved by Baudelaire's translations)
*Don't agree with White that Faulkner is never funny; maybe he's just not that into Faulkner.

dow, Saturday, 14 March 2015 01:10 (four years ago) link

Didn't know want to comment o Faulkner as he is a blind spot for me. Looking at the NYRB site and there were no letters about this. From what White is saying you could go on and argue that his translator took out the risk from Faulkner's writing, ultimately making him safe for the Nobel..

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 14 March 2015 09:40 (four years ago) link

[...] he commits himself to the forest primeval; there, so long as life shall be his, to act upon a calm, cloistered scheme of strategical, implacable, and lonesome vengeance. Ever on the noiseless trail; cool, collected, patient; less seen than felt; snuffing, smelling—a Leather-stocking Nemesis. In the settlements he will not be seen again; in eyes of old companions tears may start at some chance thing that speaks of him; but they never look for him, nor call; they know he will not come. Suns and seasons fleet; the tiger-lily blows and falls; babes are born and leap in their mothers' arms; but, the Indian-hater is good as gone to his long home, and "Terror" is his epitaph.'

hot doug stamper (||||||||), Friday, 20 March 2015 13:24 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

OK I should check it out, yes?

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 21 November 2016 03:13 (two years ago) link

What's the worst that could happen?

a little too mature to be cute (Aimless), Monday, 21 November 2016 05:29 (two years ago) link

it's great

velko, Monday, 21 November 2016 05:33 (two years ago) link

I should pick this up again.

lol @ Wikipedia on Pierre: "One review which ran in the New York Day Book bore the title "Herman Melville Crazy" while the American Whig Review wrote that Melville's "fancy is diseased".[17]"

JoeStork, Monday, 21 November 2016 06:32 (two years ago) link

Need to reup my subscription to American Whig Review

JoeStork, Monday, 21 November 2016 06:32 (two years ago) link

Alfred alfred alfred you need this book in your life

I hear from this arsehole again, he's going in the river (James Morrison), Monday, 21 November 2016 07:27 (two years ago) link

Yes - Melville had his magical writerly chops till the end.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 21 November 2016 09:14 (two years ago) link

Inspired by reading Battle-Pieces and rereading "Las Encantadas."

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 21 November 2016 11:27 (two years ago) link

love this book

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Monday, 21 November 2016 17:35 (two years ago) link

Co-sign on the above-expressed opinion that the best way to read this book is chapter-by-chapter, once with all the footnotes interrupting, then a second time just reading the straight prose

fgti, Monday, 21 November 2016 18:00 (two years ago) link

On Chapter Four!

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 21 November 2016 20:07 (two years ago) link

I checked out the Norton critical edition from the library.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 21 November 2016 20:08 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

started Redburn, which has a scene in a homosexual brothel!

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 18 April 2018 14:42 (one year ago) link

Any good? I see the Penguin edition has one of those generic 'Nobody buys this so we can't be fucked doing a cover' covers.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 19 April 2018 01:32 (one year ago) link

Perhaps trying to give Dover Thrift Editions a run for their money.

We’ll Take Chanhassen (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:13 (one year ago) link

It's the easiest novel he ever wrote -- few of those flourishes and ponderosities we expect. Apparently he regarded as hack work.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:17 (one year ago) link

Hmm nothing gay there, nope

valorous wokelord (silby), Saturday, 21 April 2018 20:20 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

found this at longform.org the other day -- it's a pretty deep critical look at HM's entire career. skimmed some of it to avoid getting too much info about a couple books (pierre) i haven't read, but there's some tremendous writing here:


(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 16 August 2019 17:44 (two months ago) link

Saw that you when you linked there on the other thread and have been meaning to read, thanks.

TS: “8:05” vs. “905” (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 16 August 2019 17:47 (two months ago) link

geoffrey o'brien i remember from back in the 80s at VV (esp.the voice lit supp): one of the critics i always enjoyed w/o knowing anything abt his deal

mark s, Friday, 16 August 2019 17:55 (two months ago) link

Pretending to have finished reading “the confidence man” got me my place on an American Lit BA in the mid 90s

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 16 August 2019 23:55 (two months ago) link

It also got me rejected from a UEA interview in 1997. “Ugh, The Confidence Man, minor Melville” the interviewer actually said to me.

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 16 August 2019 23:56 (two months ago) link


TS: “8:05” vs. “905” (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 16 August 2019 23:58 (two months ago) link

It upset me at the time, but what a jerky/hilarious thing to a bookish 17 year old

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:07 (two months ago) link

* thing to say to a bookish etc

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:08 (two months ago) link

Right. Originally I was going to type “lol/ouch!”

TS: “8:05” vs. “905” (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:09 (two months ago) link

I think the interviewer accurately assessed my fraudulence. I literally got on a train to each university interview with copies of crying of lot 49, white noise, confidence man and palimpsest stuffed in my backpack, thinking “fuck, i’ll cram what I can until the train stops”. I do remember bringing up Civilwarland (which, unlike the rest, I’d actually read) and the interviewer being, like, “George who?”

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:28 (two months ago) link

Anyway. I’ve been reading Moby Dick with my partner and we both feel like Melville is 1000x better read aloud than read on the page. It’s just so smooth. I can’t remember if the confidence man is similar though.

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 17 August 2019 00:31 (two months ago) link

Last week's New Yorker published a solid Melville essay.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 August 2019 01:23 (two months ago) link

It prompted me to check Typee out of the library. I wasn't fond of Thte Confidence Man, but I must recommend Redburn if you love explicitly homoerotic/homosocial 19th century fiction. I may even tackle Pierre cuz Norton published a critical edition in 2017.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 August 2019 01:24 (two months ago) link

bbbbbbut Confidence Man is great!

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Saturday, 17 August 2019 02:43 (two months ago) link

That New Yorker essay was good. I’m not that far of a drive away from Melville’s Arrowhead estate, it made me resolve that this is the year I trek out there.

Pierre is a truly wild read, completely off the deep end but very fun imo.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Saturday, 17 August 2019 02:53 (two months ago) link

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