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Publisher's Summary

In his ninth and final novel, cultural observer, novelist, and poet Herman Melville gives us a picture of everything wrong with America in the decade preceding the Civil War.

Evoking Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this is a story of interlocking tales from a group of steamboat passengers traveling down the Mississippi toward New Orleans. Aboard the Fidèle can be found all manner of con men, from those selling stock in failing companies and herbal cure-all "medicines" to those who are raising money for supposed charitable organizations and those who simply ask for money outright. One man sneaks aboard ship to test the so-called confidence of the passengers, and everyone is forced to confront that in which he places his trust before journey's end.

Mixing his trademark satirical style with allegory and metaphysical treatise, Melville's The Confidence-Man is a precursor to the 20th-century literary preoccupations with nihilism, existentialism, and absurdism.

Public Domain (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Confidence-Man

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Trust and the confidence man

This piece of work by Melville is certainly entertaining if you have the patience for it. Like with other works there is slow build up but you will be rewarded for that patience. Have confidence. I think I’ll return to this book in the future because there are so many ideas at play that I’m sure I missed some.

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A Benchmark of American Literature

Characterization and human insight paralleling Tolstoy are the benchmarks of this amazing study in the effect of confidence or the lack thereof on the human psyche. The sheer number of different interactions and conversations Melville juggles is amazing. I could not stop reading this tale and kept thinking of Chaucer's earlier works.

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great themes and concepts, poor story

this review is almost solely based on Melville's narrative in this story. though capable of great works like Moby Dick and Bartleby the Scribner, this is almost like a rough, rough draft of those concepts. the story doesn't really go anywhere. it just repeats the same theme through conversations between various characters on a boat.

the narrator was alright but not great.

I can understand why Harold Bloom calls this story almost unreadable.

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  • MB
  • 01-18-20

Bad book.

Uninteresting and poorly narrated. Don't waste your time! it is not worth buying in my opinion.