The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (Paperback)
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Onboard the Fidele, a steamboat floating down the Mississippi to New Orleans, a confidence man sets out to defraud his fellow passengers. In quick succession he assumes numerous guises - from a legless beggar and a worldly businessman to a collector for charitable causes and a 'cosmopolitan' gentleman, who simply swindles a barber out of the price of a shave. Making very little from his hoaxes, the pleasure of trickery seems an end in itself for this slippery conman. Is he the Devil? Is his chicanery merely intended to expose the mercenary concerns of those around him? Set on April Fool's Day, "The Confidence-Man" (1857) is an engaging comedy of masquerades, digressions and shifting identity, and a devastating satire on the American dream.
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About the Author
Herman Melville was an American novelist, poet, and lecturer best known for his classic novel Moby-Dick, as well as for his short fiction "Bartleby, the Scrivener," and the unfinished "Billy Budd, Sailor." Educated as a teacher and later as an engineer, Melville s writing was heavily influenced by his time aboard the whaling ship Acushnet, and his month-long captivity by Typee natives on Nuka Hiva island. Although Melville experienced success early in his writing career, public indifference to his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, resulted in waning attention, and his work was almost entirely disregarded by the time of this death in 1891. Melville s work experienced a revival in the early twentieth century, and he is now considered one of the pre-eminent American writers of his time. He is also one of the most-studied novelists, and was the first writer to be collected and published by the Library of America.
Stephen Matterson is Head of the English Department at Trinity College, Dublin.