Read The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville Free Online

Ebook The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville read! Book Title: The Confidence-Man
The author of the book: Herman Melville
Edition: Oxford University Press
Date of issue: November 11th 1999
ISBN: 0192837621
ISBN 13: 9780192837622
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 888 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2471 times
Reader ratings: 5.6

Read full description of the books:

Short review: Complicated, dense, angry, and funny too (though in that depressing kind of way).

Longer, more rambling comments and some quotes:

If one is going to try and come up with some sort of definition of a "masterpiece" surely one of the criteria must be an almost permanent relevance - that something of what is said about our species remains as true now as it was when the author picked up his pen.

This wonderful book, and a quick google shows me I am far from the first to think this, speaks directly and clearly of our current Trumpian, islamaphobic age, of our conned and conning selves.

" Ah, sir, they may talk of the courage of truth, but my trade teaches me that truth sometimes is sheepish. Lies, lies, sir, brave lies are the lions!"

Current U.S politics in a nutshell.

"Oftener it falls, that this winged man, who will carry me into the heaven, whirls me into the clouds, then leaps and frisks about with me from cloud to cloud, still affirming that he is bound heavenward and I, being myself a novice, am slow in perceiving that he does not know the way into the heavens, and is merely bent that I should admire his skill to rise..."

Is almost too perfect a description of Trump.

And the extraordinary section on indian-hating (for which one can easily replace the word "indian" with "muslim") - (note that, in the following quote, these are not the words of our author, but those of a judge, as reported by another character - there are many layers here, in other words)

"..are all Indians like Mocmohoc?--Not all have proved such; but in the least harmful may lie his germ. There is an Indian nature. "Indian blood is in me," is the half-breed's threat.--But are not some Indians kind?--Yes, but kind Indians are mostly lazy, and reputed simple--at all events, are seldom chiefs; chiefs among the red men being taken from the active, and those accounted wise. Hence, with small promotion, kind Indians have but proportionate influence. And kind Indians may be forced to do unkind biddings. So "beware the Indian, kind or unkind," said Daniel Boone, who lost his sons by them.--But, have all you backwoodsmen been some way victimized by Indians?--No.--Well, and in certain cases may not at least some few of you be favored by them?--Yes, but scarce one among us so self-important, or so selfish-minded, as to hold his personal exemption from Indian outrage such a set-off against the contrary experience of so many others, as that he must needs, in a general way, think well of Indians; or, if he do, an arrow in his flank might suggest a pertinent doubt.

"'In short,' according to the judge, 'if we at all credit the backwoodsman, his feeling against Indians, to be taken aright, must be considered as being not so much on his own account as on others', or jointly on both accounts. True it is, scarce a family he knows but some member of it, or connection, has been by Indians maimed or scalped. What avails, then, that some one Indian, or some two or three, treat a backwoodsman friendly-like? He fears me, he thinks. Take my rifle from me, give him motive, and what will come? Or if not so, how know I what involuntary preparations may be going on in him for things as unbeknown in present time to him as me--a sort of chemical preparation in the soul for malice, as chemical preparation in the body for malady.'

"Not that the backwoodsman ever used those words, you see, but the judge found him expression for his meaning. And this point he would conclude with saying, that, 'what is called a "friendly Indian" is a very rare sort of creature; and well it was so, for no ruthlessness exceeds that of a "friendly Indian" turned enemy. A coward friend, he makes a valiant foe.”

And then, for those of you who prefer their novels to come seasoned with a little meta:

"If reason be judge, no writer has produced such inconsistent characters as nature herself has. It must call for no small sagacity in a reader unerringly to discriminate in a novel between the inconsistencies of conception and those of life as elsewhere. Experience is the only guide here; but as no one man can be coextensive with what is, it may be unwise in every case to rest upon it. When the duck-billed beaver of Australia was first brought stuffed to England, the naturalists, appealing to their classifications, maintained that there was, in reality, no such creature; the bill in the specimen must needs be, in some way, artificially stuck on.

But let nature, to the perplexity of the naturalists, produce her duck-billed beavers as she may, lesser authors some may hold, have no business to be perplexing readers with duck-billed characters. Always, they should represent human nature not in obscurity, but transparency, which, indeed, is the practice with most novelists, and is, perhaps, in certain cases, someway felt to be a kind of honor rendered by them to their kind. But, whether it involve honor or otherwise might be mooted, considering that, if these waters of human nature can be so readily seen through, it may be either that they are very pure or very shallow. ....But as, in spite of seeming discouragement, some mathematicians are yet in hopes of hitting upon an exact method of determining the longitude, the more earnest psychologists may, in the face of previous failures, still cherish expectations with regard to some mode of infallibly discovering the heart of man.

But enough has been said by way of apology for whatever may have seemed amiss or obscure in the character of the merchant; so nothing remains but to turn to our comedy, or, rather, to pass from the comedy of thought to that of action."

This is a difficult book. The sentence structure is complex - Melville seems to be under the impression he will be paid by the comma - and the focus of the critique is much more complex and subtle than it may appear. One has to read very carefully and closely (particularly in the second half) in order not to be led astray (to be conned as it were - there is most definitely a sense in which the con man being laid bare here is the writer, and us his victims.). The section on indian-hating can be, and has been, completely misread. Any reader of Melville must recognise where he stands when it comes to pedlars of race-hatred and, accordingly, should not be misled by words coming from his character's mouths.

I am far too lazy at present to bother to write more (and to whom would I possibly be rambling, when so much already exists on this book?). Suffice it to say that any of you curious about whether or not he has another masterpiece up his sleeve other than the Whale Book really should go give this a try...

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Ebook The Confidence-Man read Online! There is more than one author with this name

Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for Melville's fall from favor with the reading public — was rediscovered in the 20th century as one of the chief literary masterpieces of both American and world literature.

Reviews of the The Confidence-Man


The butterflies in my stomach have died ...


I read the whole book with a stupid smile on my face. General advice to everyone!


This story is going to be remembered for a long time.


The book has disappointed, little new, lots of water!


A wonderful piece

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