By Herman Melville
Onboard the Fidele, a steamboat floating down the Mississippi to New Orleans, a self assurance guy units out to defraud his fellow passengers. In quickly succession he assumes various guises - from a legless beggar and a cosmopolitan businessman to a collector for charitable motives and a cosmopolitan' gentleman, who easily swindles a barber out of the cost of a shave. Making little or no from his hoaxes, the excitement of trickery turns out an lead to itself for this slippery conman. Is he the satan? Is his chicanery in simple terms meant to reveal the mercenary issues of these round him? Set on April Fool's Day, The Confidence-Man (1857) is an interesting comedy of masquerades, digressions and moving identification, and a devastating satire at the American dream.
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Additional resources for The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade
Could death have eyed and pierced my body, could I have stood upon the nails an hour, would he take warning from his murdered shade Page 25 casting his fate in smoky runes with points of light like lips where death had fastened? I follow from sad limbo till death unfasten, till his rising unwind and wear me aureole choir crown II In the mirror a sword made descending briefer than image a stream carries beyond, I saw John old: eyes cold, hair silver. Freedman, stand free. I caught in two hands this unripe stormshaken fruit, by hate (by love) tossed down tasted at soul's root that wine's stream.
Abraham To see my small son running ahead: pausing above a flower, bringing some trifle of hedgerow wearying, sighing, seeking my hand unable in all his being to give death credence, his heart agile to prove youth upon a ditch or stile: to see this you must know my heart like kettledrums commanded alarms and marches, shook old age like treason from its majesty. I am sift of dust in that Hand unmercifully blown Love Me, His thunder never cried Love me my child's eyes never cried until this dawn and under under my knife Page 23 Saint Joseph She walked noon fields bearing the child in arms.
I Sing the star whose light my song makes steady, the face whose look was never but when my hand had found it, the word that lovelier stayed than trees unstressed by season, what on the earth was seldom less seldom for my speaking — pride, delight, deliverance. This is not greatness, no: not that consummate gesture from king whose fiat fiat is blue on distance blue. His treeend never dragged across my coward foothill: his manacles and thorns have never clawed or kinged me. But few and lonely the unregarded wait me to say their beautiful with breath and heart I borrowed: Page 11 who but for self I lent would like me fret and clutter and be themselves for never.