Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville

An American Book of Job or Canterbury Tales (Antebellum Tales?) filled with Melville’s erudite musings, digressions, and ability to stretch a metaphor into unusual and contradictory shapes. Also a kin to Gogol’s Dead Souls but a little more successful than that book, but, to Gogol’s credit he did go nuts and not finish the book; and also Melville hits closer to home with concerns over the medical industry, credit based economy, genocide of the Indians, and man’s place in the universe, than does Gogol’s parade of Russian weirdos and grotesques. This book is a pretty rough read; no central character, almost no names for the characters, dense prose, and at least one character is a shape changing “devil” or trickster spirit (Or an “angel” as it implies). A wild sense of humor pervades the proceedings especially in the chapter headings (if you do nothing else flip through a copy of this book for them).

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