INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind

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That made him the perfect sidekick. I told him to call me Tom, and I called him Huck. I made a goal to not eat any food for seven days. No food for a whole week. Why would anybody do that? Well, I answer that question in an essay I wrote about it. People have been surprised when they read the essay. They say things like this: It is also full of really useful health concepts in an easy-to-understand format that still has me. Have you seen those things? Like pixels but in real life.

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I read The Anatomy of Peace every summer to celebrate my birthday. I've done this for the last 7 years or so. And I always invite my friends to join me. It's kind of a rare thing, but occasionally I ha. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. An excellent biography about the ten-dollar founding father and the building of America. Made me realize our nation is a miracle. If you love the Hamilton musical, read this: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Part 2.

That first book report was the essentials. Below are some side characters and tangents I wanted to comment on. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Long time no see! Man, this is such a story! Sometimes I think it must not have come from a mortal but some higher place. New book for sale: I have an announcement to make: My latest book is out! Or if you hate reading. Or if you hate Jerry Seinfeld. Did I mention fat? It's not really like anyth. We get to see her thoughts, worries, and awe though not tons of choosing or acting. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

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Melville himself, imploring toleration for three hundred and fifty-three pages of rambling, on the speculation of there being something to the purpose in the three hundred and fifty-fourth; which, by the way, there is not, unless the oracular announcement that "something further may follow of this masquerade," is to be regarded in that light. We are not denying that this tangled web of obscurity is shot with many a gleam of shrewd and subtle thought--that this caldron, so thick and slab with nonsense, often bursts into the bright, brief bubbles of fancy and wit.

The greater the pity to see these good things so thrown away. The following scene, in the first chapter, for example, seems to us sufficiently graphic to raise expectations very indifferently justified by the sequel It will be seen that Mr. Melville can still write powerfully when it pleases him. Even when most wayward, he yet gives evidence of much latent genius, which, however, like latent heat, is of little use either to him or to us. We should wish to meet him again in his legitimate department, as the prose-poet of the ocean; if, however, he will persist in indoctrinating us with his views concerning the vrai , we trust he will at least condescend to pay, for the future, some slight attention to the vraisemblable.

He has ruined this book, as he did 'Pierre,' by a strained effort after excessive originality. When will he discover that-- "Standing on the head makes not Either for ease or dignity? The Spectator [London] T he precise design of Mr. Satire on many American smartnesses, and on the gullibility of mankind which enables those smartnesses to succeed, is indeed an evident object of the author. He stops short of any continuous pungent effect; because his plan is not distinctly felt, and the framework is very inartistical; also because the execution is upon the whole flat, at least to an English reader, who does not appreciate what appear to be local allusions.

A Mississippi steam-boat is the scene of the piece; and the passengers are the actors, or rather the talkers. There is a misanthropist, looking like a dismissed official soured against the government and humanity, whose pleasure it is to regard the dark side of things and to infuse distrust into the compassionate mind. There is the President and Transfer Agent of the "Black Rapids Coal Company," who does a little business on board, by dint of some secret accomplices and his own pleasant plausibility and affected reluctance. A herb-doctor is a prominent person, who gets rid of his medicine by immutable patience and his dexterity in playing upon the fears and hopes of the sick.

The "Confidence-Man" is the character most continually before the reader. He is collecting subscriptions for a "Widow and Orphan Asylum recently founded among the Seminoles," and he succeeds greatly in fleecing the passengers by his quiet impudence and his insinuating fluency; the persons who effectually resist being middle-aged or elderly well-to-do gentlemen, who cut short his advances: Besides the defective plan and the general flatness of execution, there seems too great a success on the part of the rogues, from the great gullibility of the gulls.


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If implicit reliance could be placed on the fiction as a genuine sketch of American society, it might be said that poverty there as elsewhere goes to the wall, and that the freedom of the constitution does not extend to social intercourse unless where the arms and physical strength of some border man compel the fears of the genteel to grudgingly overcome their reluctance for the time. This reliance we cannot give. The spirit of the satire seems drawn from the European writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with some of Mr.

Melville's own Old World observations superadded. It sometimes becomes a question how much belongs to the New World, how much to the Old, and how much to exaggerated representation, impressing a received truth in the form of fiction. The power of wealth, connexion, and respectability, to overbear right, while poor and friendless innocence suffers, may be illustrated in the following story of a begging cripple, told to the herb-doctor; or it may instance the unscrupulous invention of vagrant impostors; but it can scarcely be taken as a true picture of justice towards the poor at New York.

But, in the t Confidence Man there is no attempt at a novel, or a romance, for MELVILLE has not the slightest qualifications for a novelist, and therefore he appears to much better advantage here than in his attempts at story books. It is, in short, a Rabelaisian piece of patch- -work without any of the Rabelaisian indecency. And here it may be well to remark v that one of the distinguishing traits of the Young American literature is its perfect decency. You can read any of these books aloud to your grandmother or your daughter, which is more than can be done by d the majority of British books.

Some of the local descriptions in the Confidence Man are as striking and picturesque as the best things in Typee , and the oddities of thought, felicities of expression, the wit, humor, and rollicking inspirations are as abundant and original as in any of the productions of this most remarkable writer. The volume has an end, but there is no conclusion to the book; the last chapter might have been the first, and the author in- timates that there is more of the same sort to come.

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Philadelphia Evening Bulletin A n eccentric, somewhat amusing and of course a rather more than somewhat indifferently digested novel. Like all of Melville's works, it contains material for suggesting thought to intelligent minds--and like all his works, too, its artistic or mechanical execution is wretched. Yet with all this it is curious, spirited, and well worth reading. Critic [London] H erman Melville, hitherto known to us as one of the brightest and most poetical word-painters of places, here adventures into quite a new field, and treats us, under the form of a fiction, to an analytical inquiry into a few social shams.

The machinery of the story, or drama, as it may perhaps be more accurately called, is simple enough; it is in the filling-up that the skill and ability are apparent. Louis to New Orleans, laden with its many-headed changing freight of human beings. Among these moves a philosopher, whose theory, or to use an Americanism notion, it is that there is not enough confidence in the world--not enough, that is to say, of the real sterling metals but, on the contrary, a great deal of paint and varnish and gilding, which looks so like it as to deceive the foolish and unwary. Accordingly he devotes his time during that voyage in sustaining a series of disguises under the cover of which he enacts a variety of scenes, and holds long disquisitions with various interlocutors, all which have for their object the impression of his principle, that confidence, and not distrust, is the foundation of happy human intercourse.

All this seems simple enough in the telling, and very likely to be prosy. That prosiness is the last crime of which Herman Melville can be accused, will be admitted by all who are familiar with "Omoo," "Typee," "Mardi," "White Jacket," and "Moby Dick. We are not quite sure whether we have cracked it ourselves--whether there is not another meaning hidden in the depths of the subject other than that which lies near the surface. There is a dry vein of sarcastic humour running throughout which makes us suspect this.

And besides, is there not a contradiction apparent in the principles of The Confidence Man himself, when he seeks to build his theory of Catholic charity upon a foundation of suspicion? Moreover, there are some parts of the story in which we feel half inclined to doubt whether this apostle of geniality is not, after all, an arch-imposter of the deepest dye; as for example, when he takes the twenty dollars from the miser upon a promise to treble them for him. Does the miser ever see the colour of his money again? Certainly the reader of the book never does.

And then, under what strange and trying disguises does The Confidence Man offer his ministrations. Who would ever think of putting confidence in a vendor of nostrums, even though he should talk such excellent wisdom as this? Better still is his reasoning with the grim cynic whom experience had brought to the sweeping conclusion that "all boys are rascals. You deny that a youth Augustine for an ostler. The contingency of having a St. Augustine for an ostler may be rather remote, but there is something in this which those Pharisees who frown mercilessly upon the follies of youth may profit by.

Taking another aspect of this book, who does not perceive a touch of the finest humour in the application of the touchstone whereby the Confidence Man proves the hollowness of his genial friend "the Mississippi Operator. Cadmus glided into the snake. New York Day Book W e remember the quaint, curious story of "Typee," and how puzzled and interested we were over its pages. We do not think Mr. Melville has greatly improved, or else we have lost an interest in his rather queer way of telling a story.

The present one, however, is a clever delineation of western characteristics, and will please many readers. Without being really a great or philosophical novelist, Mr. London Examiner M r. Herman Melville, a clever American author, whose Marquesas Island story no reader can have forgotten, has published a fanciful work which he calls a "Masquerade," entitled the Confidence Man , consisting not so much of a single narrative as of a connected series of dialogues, quaintly playing upon the character of that confidence of man in man which is or ought to be the basis of all dealing.

It is not altogether what it ought to be, hints Mr. Melville by his satire. We are only ready with a blind trust in the man who has raised mists of self-interest before our eyes. We have not much confidence in any man who wants to borrow money with his honour as security. New York Atlas W e do not think this book will add anything to the reputation of the author of "Typee. Here and there are passages, and whole pages, even, worthy of Melville, when he seems to wake from his drowsiness, and be himself; but as regards the general character of the book, we should say it was a remarkably lazy one.

We do not wish to infer that the book is not worth attention; but we are sorry that the author has expended so much labor to so little purpose, when we have a right to expect from him better things. It looks too much like a job of book making, instead of a work of love stimulated by the best faculties of the intellect. Troy [NY] Budget I t is an unfortunate thing, sometimes, to do too well at the start.

The tune pitched too high, labors all the way through. A brilliant first appearance, not seldom prefaces a fail- ure or a partial success.

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Herman Melville has never given the world the peer of "Typee. It has many points of interest, is readable, sketchy and in many places original. It is not a novel. It wants the connection, the regular plot and great part of the machinery that is found in the regular novel. The main character is only made the central object of various sketches, that are pleasant, humorous or pathetic, but might just as well have appeared anywhere else as in their immediate connection.

The Confidence-Man is a peripatetic philosopher who accomplishes his purposes by most singular means, and raises wrath or a laugh with about equal facility. Worcester [MA] Palladium T here is a great deal of material in the work; material which deserves better setting than the author has given it. Even the most partial of Mr. Melville's friends must allow that the book is not wholly worthy of him. It has a careless and rambling style which would seem to have been easier for the author to write than his readers to peruse. There are bright flashes in it; scintillations of poetic light, and much common sense well expressed, but the book as a whole is somewhat heavy.

Still, there are minds with which it will chord; and, as it pictures nineteenth century notions it will command attention. We see him every day, and often in the same light as does our author. Burlington Sentinel A new volume by the author of "Typee," "Omo" [sic] and the "Piazza Tale," [sic] promises something out of the way of hackneyed literature.

The present book of Mr. Melville is a recital of an imaginary voyage on the Mississippi, one of the greatest inland thoroughfares in the world, and the reader is introduced to all sorts of characters, is treated to all sorts of scenes, and to witness all sorts of incident, and if the reader is not pleased it is not for the want of variety. It is quaint in its style, exhibiting no small degree of literary search, or out of the way learning, and is interspersed with many shrewd exposures of human folly.

But taken as a whole, it is inferior to former works of the same author which have fell under our notice. It is intended as a satire upon American character and society, and while some of it is sharp and pungent, there are portions of it dull; yet as a whole it exhibits powers, if put to earnest endeavor, that can produce a really excellent book. His former works were read with an interest that sharpened the appetite for almost anything his pen might indite.

Though the "Confidence Man" is a book exhibiting close observations of human nature and a judicious and careful estimate of human virtues and frailties, we cannot accord to it the interest possessed by his less pretentious stories. It differs materially in manner from his other books, and lacks in geniality. Its philosophy is of a character that perhaps calls for too much exertion to fully enjoy, and the agents used in presenting it are of a class that seem to forbid an acquaintance.

Burlington Free Press T he story of the chap who managed to diddle many out of their property lamenting their want of confidence in him till they were willing to prove its reality by trusting him with a watch, a gold pencil case or a five dollar bill, never to be seen again by their owners, has furnished the hint on which the volume is made up. In a jingle of traveller's incidents and stories, the confidence man and his dupes are presented under a great variety of masks. The reader finds himself amused with some of the presentations, but as a whole he will be apt to think there is rather too much of it.

The world is not made up of cheats and their victims. The book will not add to the reputation of the author of "Omoo" and "Typee. London Illustrated Times W e can make nothing of this masquerade, which, indeed, savours very much of a mystification. We began the book at the beginning, and, after reading ten or twelve chapters, some of which contained scenes of admirable dramatic power, while others presented pages of the most vivid description, found, in spite of all this, that we had not yet obtained the slightest clue to the meaning in case there should happen to be any of the work before us.

This novel, comedy, collection of dialogues, repertory of anecdotes, or whatever it is, opens and opens brilliantly, too on the deck of a Mississippi steamer. It appeared an excellent idea to lay the opening of a fiction for the work is a fiction, at all events on the deck of a Mississippi steamer.

The advantage of selecting a steamer, and above all a Mississippi steamer, for such a purpose, is evident: For an opening, the Mississippi steamer is excellent; and we had read at least eight chapters of the work, which opens so excellently, before we were at all struck with the desirability of going ashore. But after the tenth chapter, the steamer began to be rather too much for us; and with the twelfth we experienced symptoms of a feeling slightly resembling nausea.

Besides this, we were really getting anxious to know whether there was a story to the book; and, if the contrary should be the case, whether the characters were intended--as seemed probable--not for actual living beings, but for philosophical abstractions, such as might be introduced with more propriety, or with less impropriety, floating about in the atmosphere of the planet Sirius, than on the deck and in the cabin of a Mississippi steamer, drinking, smoking, gambling, and talking about "confidence.

Indeed, if the negative of "all's well that ends well" be true, the "Confidence- man" is certainly a very bad book.

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After reading the work forwards for twelve chapters and backwards for five, we attacked it in the middle, gnawing at it like Rabelais's dog at the bone, in the hope of extracting something from it at last. But the book is without form and void. We cannot continue the chaotic comparison and say, that "darkness is on the face thereof;" for, although a sad jumble, the book is nevertheless the jumble of a very clever man, and of one who proves himself to be such even in the jumble of which we are speaking.

As a last resource, we read the work from beginning to end, and the result was we liked it even less than before--for then we had at all events not suffered from it. Such a book might have been called "Imaginary Conversations," and the scene should be laid in Tartarus, Hades, Tophet, Purgatory, or at all events some place of which the manners, customs, and mode of speech are unknown to the living. Perhaps, as we cannot make the reader acquainted with the whole plot or scheme of the work before us, he may expect us to tell him at least why it is called the "Confidence- Man.

Sometimes the "Confidence- Man" succeeds in begging or borrowing money from his collocutors; at other times he ignominiously fails. But it is not always very evident why he fails, nor in the other cases is it an atom clearer why he succeeds. For the rest, no one can say whence the "Confidence- Man" comes, nor whither he is going. The principal characters in the book are-- 1. The "Confidence Man" himself, whom, if we mistake not, is a melancholy individual attired in mourning, who distributes "Odes on Confidence" about the steamer, and talks on his favourite subject and with his favourite motive to everyone on board; but we dare not affirm positively that the "Confidence-Man" is identified with the man in mouming, and with the one who distributes "Odes on Confidence," or indeed with either--the character generally being deficient in substance and indistinct in outline.

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A lame black man we are sure there is a lame black man. A misanthropic, unconfidential white man with a wooden leg, who denies with ferocity that the lame black man is lame. A student who reads Tacitus, and takes shares in a coal company. The President and Transfer Agent of the Rapids Coal Company, who declares his determination to transact no business aboard the steamer, and who transacts it accordingly. A realist barber--who is moreover real--indeed almost the only real human being in the book, if we except, perhaps, the lame black man for we still maintain he was lame in spite of the assertions of the white man with the wooden leg.

The description of the barber opening his shop on the deck of the steamer, hoisting his pole, and putting forth his label bearing the inscription "No trust! We should also mention an interesting conversation over a bottle of wine, in which one man receiving earnest assurances of friendship from another, ventures on the strength of it to apply for a loan, which is refused with insult--not a very novel situation, but in this case well written up to, and altogether excellently treated.

Some of the stories introduced in the course of the work are interesting enough that of Colonel John Murdock, the Indian-hater, for instance , and all are well told. The anecdotes, too, are highly amusing, especially the one narrated by the misanthrope regarding the "confidence-husband," as Mr. Melville might call him. A certain Frenchman from New Orleans being at the theatre, was so charmed with the character of a faithful wife, that he determined forthwith to get married. Accordingly, he married a beautiful girl from Tennessee, "who had at first attracted his attention by her liberal mould, and who was subsequently recommended to him, through her kin, for her equally liberal education and disposition.

Though large, the praise proved not too much; for ere long rumour more than corroborated it--whispering that the lady was liberal to a fault. But though various circumstances, which by most persons would have been deemed all but conclusive, were duly recited to the old Frenchman by his friends, yet such was his confidence that not a syllable would he credit, till, chancing one night to return unexpectedly from a journey, upon entering his apart- ment, a stranger burst from the alcove.

In conclusion, the "Confidence-Man" contains a mass of anecdotes, stories, scenes, and sketches undigested, and, in our opinion, indigestible. The more voracious reader may, of course, find them acceptable; but we confess that we have not "stomach for them all. The author in his last line promises "something more of this masquerade. New York Churchman T his is the latest of Mr. Melville's works, and appeared originally, we believe, in the pages of Putnam's Monthly. It is marked by the characteristic--we might say, defect-- of the author's later works--a disposition to metaphysical speculation, for which the subject affords him a wide scope.

Louis to New Orleans is not ill-chosen; and Mr. Herman Melville makes an excellent master of the ceremonies, rushing hither and thither among the motley crowd, with no ostensible object saving that of making himself agreeable to everybody, and turning everybody to account for his own jaunty purpose. As for a thread of a story to tie together the pen-and-ink sketches of American life with which the volume is crowded, he that should look for it, would assuredly look in vain.

Yet there is a vein of philosophy that runs through the whole; and the conflict between the feeling of trust, enjoined by every nobler sentiment and higher principle, and the feeling of distrust engendered by the experience of life, of which every human breast is, however unconsciously, the perpetual battle-field, has not often been so forcibly as well as amusingly illustrated as it is in the incoherent ramblings of "the confidence-man. Melville some ten years ago, by means of the book "Typee,''--in which he represents himself, autobiographically, as one of the vilest of those runaway sailors who escape from work, and from the disagreeable things of civilization, and give themselves to the indulgences of a brutish life among the savage inhabitants of the islands in the Pacific.

A worse book than that, in its moral tone and tendency, has rarely been published. We have desired, since then, no farther acquaintance with the author. Of this new work we have read enough to show us that though Mr. Herman Melville may have learned some decency since the time of his experiments in living on the Marquesas Islands, there is no prospect of any good to be got by reading farther. His Masquerade , gives title to a new work from the pen of Herman Melville--the oddest, most unique, and the most ingenious thing he has yet done.

Under various disguises he introduces the same character who, in some form or other, is engaged evermore in cheating. The book is very interesting, and very well written, but it seems to us like the work of one not in love or sympathy with his kind. Under his masquerade, human nature--the author's nature--gets badly "cut up.

London Era A strange book, the object of which is difficult to detect, unless it be to prove this wicked world still more full of wickedness than even the most gloomy philosophers have supposed. The scene is entirely laid on board a Mississippi steamer, where, amidst the crowds assembled on deck, appears a man who acts in such a manner that he is supposed to be deaf and dumb.

Falling asleep, and being at last forgotten, the next person brought before our notice is a crippled Negro begging for alms. The deaf and dumb man had commenced teaching "confi- dence" as a principle, by writing on a slate, and holding up for public teaching the scriptural account of charity as found in St. To him succeeds "a man with a weed," i.

And to the man with the weed succeed other characters, among whom we find an admirable quack doctor and herb seller, each and all professing to be engaged in some work of benevolence for the human race, which combines the practical benefit of putting money into the proposer's pocket. It is evident, after a time, to the reader, that each and all of these characters from the mute who wrote "charity" on the slate, to the cosmopolitan whom we leave at the end leading to his bed the old man with his money belt, are the masquerades of one man--the "Confidence Man," in fact; the villain who, with the Scripture in his mouth, has mammon in his heart, and a fiendish principle of deceiving all men influencing his every word.

In the course of the various scenes of the book one or two call him imposter, and scorn him, but as he turns up immediately after in a fresh character, no result follows these detections. Melville have us learn and believe from his book? That no one lives who acts up to Christian principle? That such is often the case we fear there is no doubt.

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And that vice conceals itself most cleverly, under the guise of virtue, is but too true. But surely the reverse of this is not so uncommon as "The Confidence Man" might induce us to suppose. The book is thoroughly original in its plot, and is written in that brilliant and masterly style which the author has already exhibited so well in "Omoo" and "Typee. Saturday Review [London] T here are some books which it is almost impossible to review seriously or in a very critical spirit. They occupy among books the same position as Autolycus, or Falstaff, or Flibbertigibbet do among men.

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Of course they are quite wrong--there are other people in the world besides those who cheat and those who are cheated--all pleasant folks are not rogues, and all good men are not dull and disagreeable. On the contrary, the truth is for the most part, we are thankful to say, the exact opposite of this, and therefore Mr. Melville's view of life, were it gravely intended, should no doubt be gravely condemned. But that he has no such intention we quote his own words to show.

There is another class, and with this class we side, who sit down to a work of amusement tolerably as they sit at a play, and with much the same expectations and feeling. Whether this is a very high aim, is another question. All we can say is that it has been fully attained in the volume before us; and we lay our frowns aside, and give our- selves up to watch the eccentric transformations of the Confidence-Man, in much the same spirit as we listen to the first verse of the song of Autolycus.

The scene of this comedy is one of the large American steamers on the Mississippi--the time of its action, one day--and its hero a clever impostor, who, under the successive disguises of a deaf mute, a crippled negro, a disconsolate widower, a charitable collector, a transfer agent, a herb doctor, a servant of the "Philosophical Intelligence Office," and a cosmopolitan traveller, contrives to take in almost every one with whom he comes in contact, and to make a good deal of money by these transactions. The characters are all wonderfully well sustained and linked together; and the scene of his exploits gives unlimited scope for the introduction of as many others as Mr.

Melville's satirical pencil likes to sketch, from the good simple country merchant to the wretched miser, or the wild Missourian who had been worried into misanthropy by the pranks of thirty-five boys--and no wonder, poor man, if they were all like the one whose portrait we subjoin. We likewise recommend to those readers who like tales of terror the story of Colonel John Moredock, the Indian hater. It opens up a dark page in American history, and throws some light on the feelings with which the backwoodsmen and red men mutually regard each other, and apparently with very good reason.

INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind
INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind INKLINGS: A Headlong Plunge into an Authors Mind

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