A scathing, razor-sharp satire set on a New Orleansboundriverboat, The Confidence-Man exposesthe fraudulent optimism of so many American idolsand idealists?Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry DavidThoreau, and P. T. Barnum, in particular'and drawsa dark vision of a country being swallowed by itsillusions of progress. It begins with a mute boardinga Mississippi boat and ends without a conclusion:?Something further may follow of this Masquerade.'In between, the ?confidence man,? so well disguisedas to avoid clear identification even by the reader,meets and tricks a boatful of unusual characters.The culmination of Herman Melville's brilliant careeras a novelist, and the introduction of a particularlyAmerican brand of satire that is as caustic as it isfunny, The Confidence-Man creates an elaborate andneautiful masquerade that asks: who in this world isworth our confidence?
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